Not everything has changed since I was a kid.
When I was in 5th grade, the boys and the girls voluntarily sat separately during lunch time. Why? Just because.
Well, it isn't much different for my 5th grader but they are now getting pretty close to starting middle school and things start, only just a little bit at first, to look a little different between the boys and girls.
Yesterday for some unknown reason, a few boys came over to sit with Molly and the other girls. Something about getting away from a messy table or some other such excuse. They larked about, making jokes but one boy began being snarky about a 4th grade boy who was not around at the time and calling him a retard.
Molly piped right up and said, "He has autism, he is not retarded just a bit special."
The boys took that in but continued to snark, "He is so special with his specialness." Jokingly, probably not meaning real harm, maybe just intending to amateurishly flirt with the girls, just trying to get their attention in a ham handed pre-pubescent boy sort of way.
My Molly, my wonderful, intuitive, insightful, empathic big sister to Shea said, "You probably shouldn't say that kind of thing around me because my brother is special too and they can't help it."
That stopped them up short. "Is he retarded?", they soberly ask. "No." says Molly.
"Is he autistic?"
"What's wrong with him?"
"He has a real hard time speaking. He has to work really hard to make the words come out and still they sometimes sound different. He can't help it. He is special."
"How old is he?"
"Wow. That must be hard."
And, then they all moved onto other subjects with a bit more knowledge and hopefully a little bit more compassion.
There are times where I would give absolutely anything to be a fly on the wall or an ant on the lunch table. This was one of the those times.