Recently, a friend sent around a feel-good story that is recorded on snopes in a slightly altered form at http://www.snopes.com/glurge/chush.asp
The story is cute; the version I read was even more poignant, with the little boy dying at the end, having until his last day recalled the one time he had been a hero at the ballpark.
What bothered me was the reaction of the person at snopes.
In this story a group of boys playing baseball let a disabled child who cannot hit a ball make a run and win the game for his team.
The author at Snopes writes: “Can a disabled boy hit a ball as well as a perfectly-abled one? No. But can that same child learn to work within his disabilities to the point of achieving real accomplishments he can take honest pride in? Absolutely. And that beats all the pity-driven home runs in the world.”
I am certainly in favor of given all children the best chance we can, and of helping them — able and disable — to find their way in the world. But, I think there comes a point when our politically correct motivated desire to help goes overboard. It may be that you let your ten year old lose and learn from it, but you let your toddler run the bases to find out the joy of it and to encourage him to try again.
In this case, it sounded (at least in the version I read) like Shaya was more like the toddler than the ten-year old
I know a lot of little boys. Little boys are selfish, thoughtful, active, and sometimes loving…but pity? I have never yet seen a little boy who understood the meaning of pity.
Little boys love to win. The fact that those boys stepped back to support Shaya showed a sense of them standing up for something greater than just themselves. That alone is worth a great deal.
I know quite a few little boys something like Shaya. I just threw a party where the invitation list included eight autistic children. None of those children would have gained anything from being shown ‘the limits of their disability.’ They are not at the point yet where that would be a lesson of any value to them.
Or rather it is a lesson they face every day. Succeeding and feeling the joy of friendship and teamwork…now that’s a lesson they could use more of!