Last night Gloria was invited to go trick-or-treating. There was no doubt in the child’s mind that she would be a cow, a baby cow. She rode in the stroller with his little sister. He just knew that was the right costume for Gloria. He was right. Not only did Gloria go trick-or-treating, she was part of the family’s Diwali celebration over the weekend. And, she was welcomed into the family with big arms.
Few moments within the classroom leave me searching for the words that are deep enough to tell the story. Gloria does that.
Years ago, Erin asked to take Gloria home for the weekend and include her in trick-or-treating. What a surprise! This was a first for Gloria. What happened next was a page-turner for me: On the following day, Erin’s mother arrived at school very upset. Her words went something like this:
“Jennie, I just don’t understand people (she stamped her foot). It was so frustrating last night. Everyone kept asking me why a witch was dressed up like Minnie Mouse. I kept telling them she is not a witch. They didn’t get it. They just didn’t understand!”
It never occurred to Erin and her mom that Gloria was anything but a person, and a shy person. Since then, Gloria has been trick-or treating many times. She has been a dragon, a pumpkin, a lamb… years of different costumes alongside children and their families.
Over the years children have come to embrace Gloria as a true friend. They see her for what she is, deep down inside, not for how she looks. She has become a role model because every day children play with her, unconsciously accepting and including. They care for her.
In years to come, children in my class will be humanitarians, thanks to Gloria.