Ilyn Santos: “Kindness”
This I Believe
by Ilyn Santos
I believe everyone should be kind to one another despite what they look like. When I was around three years old, I was taught that I had to be nice to everyone. As I entered the room, I had to say hello to everyone. I was taught to play with every kid who wanted to play with me. I was taught that no matter the differences between me and another person we are all the same on the inside. My parents taught me that I shouldn’t judge anyone based on their looks and I believe kids should always be taught that.
When I was the age of three, I met my little cousin. I noticed he had his differences, but I ignored them. I remember that I was excited to meet him because I didn’t have a baby cousin. As I held him, I looked at him with a big smile. I smiled to see that he had beautiful big eyes, eyes that looked like they shined whenever I stared into them. I was so happy to see his cute little fingers, which melted my heart. He had such tiny feet that made me giggle because of how cute they were. As I stared at him, my mother and aunt explained to me that he was born with a cleft lip and that’s why he looked a bit different than us. As I grew up, I had so much love for my cousin and the way he looked did not embarrass me! He told me that he felt like he was being stared at so much, that he would start to feel sad and embarrassed. I wasn’t sure how to make him feel better so I wouldn’t say anything, but deep down I wished I could have done something.
When I was thirteen and he was ten he told me that he felt like everyone stared at him or either looked at him with curiosity, also that some of his classmates looked at him with fear. I then told him that those are kids who aren’t educated on what a cleft lip is and, as kids they stare a lot because of the questions they have and that he should just ask them nicely if they have any questions about his birth defect. I felt so sad because my cousin was the sweetest person. My cousin was always willing to talk and play with anyone. I did not like seeing him sad and I would sit and wonder if those children’s parents ever taught them that it’s not nice to stare and point at people.
As we got older, I tried to make sure he was okay since middle schoolers and high schoolers can say cruel things. My cousin would tell me how sometimes he acted like he was fine, but he wasn’t. He would be told, “you ain’t got no top lip,” “where yo top teeth at,” and they would end it with a laugh. That really broke my heart because, one, he’s my cousin, and second, he was never mean to anyone. It was so sad; he would take it all in and not say anything to them. There was a point in life where he said, “I wish I was dead,” and that is when I reminded him of how special he was to everyone, to those who loved him. I told him that the kids who said mean comments about him lacked what he has, which is love.
All the situations and feelings my cousin went through, which he decided to share with me, resulted in me believing that everyone should stop seeing peoples flaws and start liking people for their personalities and what’s on the inside, which is our heart. I believe parents should be more like my parents, who taught their kids how to be kind to people. We never know how badly words hurt people or if it can lead them to commit suicide or self-harm. Not everyone knows how to handle the bad comments. I believe we should teach kids to keep their mean comments to themselves, also we should ask them how it would feel if they had a birth defect, or any difference and someone made a mean comment about them. That question would change a child’s perspective and it will teach them how to be kind to one another despite their differences.
(Read all the pieces in This I Believe; featured image by Jennifer used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ilyn Santos is a 20-year-old female who was born and raised in Virginia. Ilyn comes from a really big Spanish speaking family. Her family is from a country in Central America, named Honduras. Ilyn is the youngest child out of 3. Her parents came to this country for a better future and they went straight into the work force, so they did not attend college. Ilyn’s siblings did not have the opportunity to attend college either, so she is the first. She is currently a college student at Northern Virginia Community College, which she is attending to pursue her dreams of becoming a Registered nurse.