Christmas morning was a little hectic. We opened Santa's gifts (you can see those pictures here) and then rushed to get ready for Church. Olivia was decked out in her Christmas best.
She wasn't, however, on her best behavior. Since we were going to Church with Grammy and Grampy, in a church where there was actually a cry room, we took advantage of the opportunity to keep her from disturbing everyone else.
We thought we'd have the cry room to ourselves, but just before Mass, another family came in. They had a little boy about 3 or 4 years old, and he seemed to have some sort of cerebral palsy (forgive me if that's wrong...I am not good at identifying disabilities by sight). He kept wandering up to us in the front pew of the cry room, and he would stand there and watch us, or sit on the floor or look out the window. I didn't mind. I know how hard it is to keep Olivia in one place, so I can imagine what it must be like for this family.
Well, Olivia loves other little kids, so as soon as I let her get down, she started following him around. She would walk behind him and even *gasp* SIT STILL on the floor when he did. I dare say he would be a calming influence on her at Mass if we sat by him every week.
As usual, Olivia (being the affectionate child she is) tried to give this little boy a hug. When he didn't reciprocate, she patted him on the back. And every time he came up to our pew, she tried again to hug him.
Mental disability is uncomfortable for many people. But what I saw here was a little girl expressing love and acceptance for another human being just because he happened to be there. She had none of the prejudices and hesitations that most of us have in handling disability. She just saw another child and wanted to be loving and affectionate.
I'd like to believe that we can see the face of Christ expressed in every human being, but it's not always easy for us to do. For Olivia, it's not hard at all. I pray that she keeps that childlike innocence and lovingness for as long as possible.