Mekdes sleeping sweetly at her brothers' soccer game
And so it begins.
My daughter Mekdes, on the playground, waiting for big siblings to be done with their weekly homeschool coop.
Running, climbing, sliding down the slide, giggling with her younger sister Mary.
But then a bigger (though probably not older) girl, who we don't know, shoves her down.
I assumed it was an accident. It happens.
But after two more times I realize it's deliberate.
My precious girl, bullied by someone who was just plain in the mood to be mean. I'm sure she's normally a nice enough kid, but I'm also sure that it's easy to bully someone who doesn't speak your language, whose skin is darker than yours, and who struggles to keep her balance.
Everything in me wanted to go yell at that girl--and tell her all about the life Mekdes has lived: how she was born with a heart that doesn't work (and had to have risky open heart surgery), how her birth mother relinquished her and how she lived in an orphanage for two years, how she has an extra chromosome that translates into her taking longer to do things...and how brave she is in spite of it all.
But I didn't. Immediately after pushing Mekdes down, the girl left with her mom. So I sat and watched my daughter stand back up, dust herself off (again), and return to the slide--where her little wispy blonde-haired, blue-eyed sister was waiting for her.
As infuriating as the whole thing was for this mama bear, it was also a good reminder of why children need parents. When we were in the discernment process of this adoption, discussing whether we would be a good fit for two sweeties with Down syndrome, something we kept coming back to was that our crazy, noisy, huge, crazy (yes I said crazy twice) family might actually be a really safe place for a child with an extra chromosome. Yes, it seemed daunting. But. Instant friends, strong community, lots of little buddies to hang out with and learn from and nurture too. People looking out for you and accepting you just as you are. People who see you for who God made you to be. People who just plain love you, and who think that goofy face you make when you're having a tic is the cutest thing ever.
I truly believe God knew what He was doing when He dreamed up the whole "family" thing. Because there is something that siblings bring to the table that, as hard as I might try as a mama, I just plain can't. Security, comfort, and love unique to the bonds that brothers and sisters share. Yes, my house more closely resembles a scene from Lord of the Flies than a Hallmark commercial, but by golly, you better believe my kids love and look out for each other.
Seeing my daughter bullied today made me angry, and sadly I know it won't be the last time. But you know what? It reinforced my view that family is where it's at, and my family is committed to being a safe place for each one of my children--especially my two little ones with Down syndrome. They will always have a full table at their birthday parties, and will always have six friends-for-life. No matter what.
I can't control what other people do, and I can't make life easy for my Mekdes. But I can love her, and along with my family, make her feel safe.
What a gift, this opportunity for us. May I always see it as such.