When Erez was born in Israel, doctors didn't know how to tell the mom her son's condition.
Parents know that the world can be cold and cruel sometimes. It is easy and natural to want to shelter kids from mean-spirited children and immature adults. The reality, unfortunately, is that we cannot be there 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect them.
For children living with a physical or medical condition that is visible for others to see, it can mean a lifetime of taunting and bullying. Still, there are some kids that either want to see the good in others or simply learn to forgive a wrongdoing as soon as it happens.
Ruth Gaon thought she had grown accustomed at people looking at her eight-year-old son, Erez Gaon. Erez was born with congenital melanocytic nevus, a condition where birthmarks of all sizes appear through-out the body. This time, however, the mother of three felt like she was about to lose her temper. Ironically, it was her son who taught her how to react to bullies.Instead, they wrapped him around in blankets to conceal his birthmarks.
Congenital melanocytic nevus appears in 1 per cent of babies born worldwide.
This occurs due to a mutation in the body's cells, usually in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Ruthi noticed her newborn had a huge mole on his back.
Ruthi and her husband are parents to another boy and a girl.
Erez's condition worried doctors as the moles were internally in his spine and brain.
This was a concern as it may cause epileptic seizures. The baby boy has gone through several surgeries.
Erez attends a special needs school and is in grade three.
To ensure Erez is socially included he also attends a public school once a week. Ruthi points out Erez is a happy boy who is a social butterfly.
Still, Erez has not been spared from strangers staring at him.
Ruthi, refuses to change their life and that of Erez. Nonetheless, the older he gets the more Erez understands when he is being bullied.
While out with Erez, both her and her son noticed a mother and daughter making fun of Erez and laughing.
Ruthi took to Facebook to explain to Erez how she felt about the experience. "I swear I got used to people staring at you, the comments behind our back; the sad fact is that no matter how much we talk of inclusion and acceptance the different one remains excluded and will always draw attention," she wrote.
Faces of Israel
She included photos of Erez and herself covered in spots, making silly faces.
"Sometimes it is even amusing. But it is hard for me when people are just mean. How can someone laugh about you, my beloved son?" she asked.
Ruthi Gaon / Facebook
Ruthi was ready to lose her temper on the stranger but Erez had something else in mind.
"Erezi, the easiest thing would have been to explode at that mother, laughing at her young daughter’s insulting remarks about your unique look (things I can’t even put in writing). I swear that at that moment I felt as if I would squash her face (and much more). But you just smiled, took my hand and just kept on walking," she revealed.
When they got home, she asked her son to draw dots on her face so they could take selfies together.
Ruthi then posted her message along with the photos on Facebook. "A magical touch you have, my child. It’s a fact that instead of me wanting to strangle her I have decided to show everyone that I am so proud of you and your many dots," she wrote. "Especially that dot which is really close to your beautiful eye that manages to see all the goodness in this world and disregard all the rest."
Within a day her post had gone viral with Israelis and people around the globe painting dots on their faces.
Every photo came with the hashtag #FriendsofErez. Local children's entertainer Twiigy uploaded a photo of himself covered in spots.
Ruthi wants to point out that Erez's condition is not contagious.
"There are brave children and adults who are challenged by it all over the world." Their new social media friends bombarded Erez with words of encouragement, love, and support.
As for the woman who laughed at her son with her daughter?
"I choose to forgive you, not only because it is the days of forgiveness of Rosh Hashana but because of my treasure, Erez, who teaches me every day how to be a better person,” admits Ruthi.