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Learning the Different Differences of People

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There isn’t just one single point that every parent experiences with their kid learning about the difference of other people. Because they’re all different, in usual and in unique ways, you’ll run into several experiences.

Little ones don’t tend to get too caught up in the abstract differences of character and personality, so they tend to focus on the physical: race, attire, height or weight, you name it.

I don’t want to spoil this animated short film’s touching twist, so watch and then read on.

(Winning 59 awards, “The Present” is a thesis short film from the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany.)

 

I thought of this sweet video after something I experienced with my son…

A few weeks ago, I was sitting at the car wash with my 7-year-old son, killing time by playing cards. We heard the whistle and looked up to see our car gleaming in the sun.

As we strolled over, I tipped the guy who was applying the finishing wipes. He was an elderly black man who was missing most of his left arm. I tipped him and got in, wondering if my son had noticed.

7yo: That man has no arm.

Me: Yeah, he’s ok.

7: I hope he has a good life.

Me: He’s old so he probably has.

7: Yeah he’s like you. But like, one arm.

Well thanks, kid. Hah!

I was pleased that he was so thoughtful about it, and that his first impulse was care and concern and not to cringe or recoil at someone’s less common difference.

I did my daddy duty, going on to explain that some people are born with different bodies, which he made clear he already knew. I then mentioned that sometimes people have injuries they can’t fully fix, to which he added that he also already totally knew. “Ugh, Dad!”

So, OF COURSE, I wasn’t really teaching him anything new (eye roll). But even if so, at least I was reminding him of the plain and normal truth of a physical difference he’d focused on in that moment.

As we drove home, I couldn’t help smiling every now and then, so pleased with my little guy and his big, smart heart.
 

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