Jaime Bairaktaris is a compassionate, caring and cool “06880” reader. He works as a volunteer EMS crew chief, environmental program teacher, public school para-educator, and ice cream scooper.
Jaime is also very observant. Last weekend, he saw something disturbing. He wants to share it with all “06880” readers. I’m honored to pass his message along.
This is for all the parents of fidgety, different, and “normal” kids.
On Saturday morning I began to eavesdrop on the booth behind me at Rye Ridge Deli. Sitting in back of me was a kid (I assumed he’s a middle schooler). Across the table from him was a man (I assumed it was his father). My booth shook slightly as the kid moved around.
The boy stopped moving. The booth became still.
“Some kids, they can’t sit still. They can’t control themselves,” the man continued.
I could not help but listen.
“One kid gets angry and gets a whole teacher to themself,” the man said. “Imagine there’s 25 kids in a class with one teacher. That’s ‘normal.’ Now imagine every kid gets their own teacher because they can’t control themself.”
I grew angry. I was listening to a child learn about how to look at other kids as abnormal, in a world where no one is “normal.”
“Imagine you want to get a set of textbooks for the whole class, but instead one kid gets their own teacher,” he said curtly.
“Now it’s more expensive for everyone else.”
This child was being taught to look at other kids as “expenses.”
The man plunged on. “We try to make these kids as ‘normal’ as possible now. We used to just keep them home if we knew it wouldn’t work out.”
My coffee grew cold. I could not imagine the harm he had done. He had just taught a child a mindset that many people have fought over 7 decades to change.
I listened as he chewed his words for a second, then spilled out: “But I’m not saying what’s wrong or right. These are big decisions.”
Man at the deli: These are not decisions. These are children.
My heart hurt for the child who had to listen to this.
My heart hurt for the kids who may now be looked at as expenses — and for the teachers who were equated to text books.
My heart hurt that I chose to eavesdrop and judge this man’s parenting, but did not stand up and stop it.
Parents: Please talk to your kids — at the deli, at home, in the car, before bed — and make sure they know to love all of their friends the same.
Kids: Please never think that you are an expense or a waste. You are the best asset our town will ever be prized with. Please keep fidgeting.
A fidgety, abnormal, 21-year-old