Once upon a time there was a little Arab boy who flew from Dammam to Muscat late one evening. It was a short flight, 1 hour 20 minutes. There was nothing special about the boy, just an average looking kid around 9 years old. But he had one problem. He had a direct reaction to the seatbelt sign on a plane. When this light came on, instructing everyone to strap down and remain seated, he simply wouldn’t. The light didn’t went on due to turbulence but to the decent of the plane coming in to land. Obviously this implies danger when not strapped in, but the little boy could not care less. A travelling business man was intrigued by the scene that was playing out two rows in front of him.
The mean Asian hostess grumped and scoffed every time she passed their row, but to no avail. The poor Moslem mother had her hands full pushing him down not once or twice but tens of times. Every minute or so his head would pop up again and again and again. He was pulling at her headpiece and she had to constantly re-adjust it fearing the embarrassment of her son pulling it off.
Every parent knows that sometimes your kid just goes into the dreaded zombie-zone. This situation occurs when nothing a parent says or does can change the behaviour of your sweet little child. It normally happens in public. You have tried everything, even got to the point of threatening death, but no success. Little Joey simply does not want to listen. So in this scene there was a poor mother with her son in zombie-zone. What intrigued the businessman was the patience and calm nature of the mother, proof that God had a special place for them. She just never lost her temper, like all good mothers do, she would just pull him down and quietly talk to him.
The plane landed and the cabin lights were switched on. The businessman felt pity for the mother and was trying his best to lock eyes with the boy. He wanted to give the boy a stern look, in his mind helping the mother control the brat. The businessman thought that a disapproved look from a stranger might calm the kid down. Then it happened. The businessman realised that the little Arab boy who didn’t want to sit, actually couldn’t. Maybe it was ADHD or maybe it was Tourette syndrome or maybe even something more serious.
Shame spilled over the businessman like an avalanche. He ducked his head and disembarked as quickly as he could.
The moral of the story is obvious. Don’t judge or assume anything.
In fact take your prejudice and your assumptions and tie it down with a thick steel cable, attached to a heavy block of lead and throw it in the ocean. It does not belong in our society.
And this is how we learn. Tell your kids.