“Mommy, this little boy likes me!”

(We recently found a few hidden pages written by our mom & grandma. This one is especially poignant today, January 15th, the birthday of both Martin Luther King, Jr and Gladys I. Johnson. Not only did they share a birthday, but they shared God’s heart for teaching our children love and not hate. We hope you will enjoy these beautiful words.)

MOMMY, THIS LITTLE BOY LIKES ME

The vacant house across the street had been rented, and of course the neighborhood children (and their mothers) waited anxiously to see the new neighbors. Would there be a boy to play with? Would he have the two necessary ingredients for friendship – a bike and a dog? And since our neighborhood is bereft of girls, the boys all felt it would be a calamity if “one of those things” moved in.

So, in typical boy fashion, they banished such a thought from their minds. This family would have boys to play with, and to add to the football squad in the fall, and the baseball team in spring.

At last the movers’ truck pulled up and the men began unloading furnishings. But no sign of a boy. Odd, wasn’t it? thought the neighbors. If there were children, surely they would be under foot, hindering instead of helping, laughing merrily as they rediscovered things mother had hidden in packing.

A black car had been bustling back and forth over the streets, loading and unloading its cargo. The driver, obviously the woman of the house, stopping to tell the workmen where to put the furniture.

When all the furnishings were in, the black car came back, and from the front seat hobbled a small waif of a boy, walking with an effort on crutches. The few neighborhood children who had not given up their vigil, stared hard and turned away in disgust. This poor little fellow could not play football. He could never add the member needed for the baseball nine.

As the days passed, little Tommy was never included in the play of the other boys. When he got into the car that drove him to school in the mornings, passing children who would stop and stare. He was the unusual, not understood. Tommy often cried when, attracted by his toys, a small boy would enter his yard to play, only to stand and stare, not knowing quite how to cope with the thought of playing with a boy who walked with crutches. I noticed that the children, while not meaning to offend, would say cutting things – as children often do. As a result, Tommy would put up his own defense of bitterness and meanness.

One warm day, little Tommy came across the street to play with my son, and I hoped for Tommy’s sake they would be friends. My own son, while ordinarily no angel, took him in, if for no other reason than the fact that his other friends were scarce that day. But it delighted Tommy. When his mother came to get him later in the day, Tommy looked up with a smile of delight and said, “Mommy, this little boy likes me!”

In that moment I thought of all the little children in our world who suffer such injustice at the hands of others who do not understand why they seem so different. Would it not be a better world if each mother taught her children the meaning and beauty of each individual, and the willingness to accept the one who is different?

There is a little bigotry and racial hatred in all of us. It is learned, not birthed. We must teach our children that crippling the spirit is much worse than crippling the body.

written by: Gladys I. Johnson

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