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I am the Child

22 Aug

After jumping onto my soapbox earlier this week about the use of the word “retarded”, I thought I’d share something that I’ve had on Sammy’s website for several years now.

I am the Child (Author Unknown)

Photo by JJ Kaplan, Color My World Studios

I am the child who cannot talk. You often pity me, I see it in your eyes. You wonder how much I am aware of — I see that as well. I am aware of much, whether you are happy or sad or fearful, patient or impatient, full of love and desire, or if you are just doing your duty by me. I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater, for I cannot express myself or my needs as you do.You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times. I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated. I do not give you answers to your everyday questions, responses over my well-being, sharing my needs, or comments about the world about me. I do not give you rewards as defined by the world’s standards — great strides in development that you can credit yourself; I do not give you understanding as you know it.  What I give you is so much more valuable — I give you instead opportunities. Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine; the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities; the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible. I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder, seeking answers to your many questions with no answers. I am the child who cannot talk.

I am the child who cannot walk. The world seems to pass me by. You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children. There is much you take for granted. I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, oh I’ve dropped my fork again. I am dependent on you in these ways. My gift to you is to make you more aware of your great fortune, your healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself. Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them. I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright, to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent. I give you awareness. I am the child who cannot walk.

I am the child who is mentally impaired. I don’t learn easily, if you judge me by the world’s measuring stick, what I do know is infinite joy in simple things. I am not burdened as you are with the strifes and conflicts of a more complicated life. My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child, to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love. I give you the gift of simplicity. I am the child who is mentally impaired.

I am the disabled child. I am your teacher. If you allow me, I will teach you what is really important in life. I will give you and teach you unconditional love. I gift you with my innocent trust, my dependency upon you. I teach you about how precious this life is and about not taking things for granted. I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams. I teach you giving. Most of all I teach you hope and faith. I am the disabled child.

Some Mothers Get Babies With Something More

16 Aug

Physical therapy with Miss Gayle

Written by: Lori Borgman
Columnist and Speaker

My friend is expecting her first child. People keep asking what she wants. She smiles demurely, shakes her head and gives the answer mothers have given throughout the pages of time. She says it doesn’t matter whether it’s a boy or a girl. She just wants it to have ten fingers and ten toes.

Of course, that’s what she says. That’s what mothers have always said. Mothers lie. Truth be told, every mother wants a whole lot more. Every mother wants a perfectly healthy baby with a round head, rosebud lips, button nose, beautiful eyes, satin skin and straight feet.

Every mother wants a baby so gorgeous that people will pity the Gerber baby for being flat-out ugly. Every mother wants a baby that will roll over, sit up and take those first steps right on schedule (according to the baby development chart on page 57, column two). Every mother wants a baby that can see, hear, run, jump and fire neurons by the billions. She wants a kid that can smack the ball out of the park and do toe points that are the envy of  the entire ballet class.

Call it greed if you want, but we mothers want what we want. Some mothers get babies with something more.

Some mothers get babies with conditions they can’t pronounce, a spine that didn’t fuse, a missing chromosome, a palette that didn’t close or a tiny crooked foot or two.

Most of those mothers can remember the time, the place, the shoes they were wearing and the color of the walls in the small, suffocating room where the doctor uttered the words that took their breath away. It felt like recess in the fourth grade when you didn’t see the kick ball coming and it knocked the wind clean out of you.

Some mothers leave the hospital with a healthy bundle, then, months, even years later, take him in for a routine visit, or schedule her for a well check, and crash head first into a brick wall as they bear the brunt of devastating news.
It can’t be possible! That doesn’t run in our family. Can this really be happening in our lifetime?

I am a woman who watches the Olympics for the sheer thrill of seeing finely sculpted bodies. It’s not a lust thing; it’s a wondrous thing. The athletes appear as specimens without flaw — rippling muscles with nary an ounce of flab or fat, virtual powerhouses of strength with lungs and limbs working in perfect harmony. Then the athlete walks over to a tote bag, rustles through the contents and pulls out an inhaler.

As I’ve told my own kids, be it on the way to physical therapy after a third knee surgery, or on a trip home from an echo cardiogram, there’s no such thing as a perfect body. Every body will bear something at some time or another. Maybe the affliction will be apparent to curious eyes, or maybe it will be unseen, quietly treated with trips to the doctor, medication or surgery.

The health problems our children have experienced have been minimal and manageable, so I watch with keen interest and great admiration the mothers of children with serious disabilities, and wonder how they do it.

Frankly, sometimes you mothers scare me. How you lift that child in and out of a wheelchair 20 times a day. How you monitor tests, track medications, regulate diet and serve as the gatekeeper to a hundred specialists yammering in your ear.

I wonder how you endure the clichés and the platitudes, well-intentioned souls explaining how God is at work when you’ve occasionally questioned if God is on strike.

I even wonder how you endure schmaltzy pieces like this one — saluting you, painting you as hero and saint, when you know you’re ordinary. You snap, you bark, you bite. You didn’t volunteer for this, you didn’t jump up and down in the motherhood line yelling, “Choose me, God. Choose me! I’ve got what it takes.” You’re a woman who doesn’t have time to step back and put things in perspective, so, please, let me do it for you.

From where I sit, you’re way ahead of the pack. You’ve developed the strength of a draft horse while holding onto the delicacy of a daffodil. You have a heart that melts like chocolate in a glove box in July, carefully counter-balanced against the stubbornness of an Ozark mule.

You can be warm and tender one minute, and when circumstances require, intense and aggressive the next. You are the mother, advocate and protector of a child with a disability. You’re a neighbor, a friend, a stranger I pass at the mall. You’re the woman I sit next to at church, my cousin and my sister-in-law. You’re a woman who wanted ten fingers and ten toes, and got something more. You’re a wonder.

What do children do in heaven?

13 Feb

We have been amazed at the number of messages we have received from total strangers who have stumbled across Sammy’s website. Last week, Monica from Alexandria, Indiana, sent us a passage from a book entitled, “Letter from Heaven”. This passage is a fictional answer to the question of “What do children do in heaven?”

…The first thing you might have noticed is that heaven is filled with their singing and laughter. They play together in grassy fields, catching bright-colored butterflies, giving them a quick kiss, and watching them fly away. In heaven, children can soar with the birds over a rainbow. Their laughter rings out like silver bells. Small groups of children sometimes spread out on their tummies on the velvet grass, coloring pictures with crayons of iridescent colors only seen in heaven.

During my long walk, I passed one little boy who was lying in a flower-covered meadow reading a book with his head resting on the back of a lion. A tiny lamb, pure and clean as snow, was curled up next to him. What a picture of total peace, security, and contentment. I saw the pleasure the animals bring to the children as they played together. Rosy-cheeked children were shouting merrily as they played hide-and-go-seek with baby kangaroos. Two little boys were taking a ride on the back of a graceful tiger. Another pair of adventuresome little girls were soaring through the cloudless sky on the wings of an eagle. Their hair was blowing straight out behind them as their joyous laughter rang through the pristine air. What a sight!

Are you surprised we have animals here in heaven? Why wouldn’t there be? When God first created the human race, He put the animals under our protective care. Animals are very special to God. The children are able to enjoy their playfulness without any trace of harm or danger just as God intended when He created them. Never forget that animals had a special place in the garden, they have a special place there on earth, and they have a special place here in heaven where you can enjoy them in complete safety forever.

…..Children in heaven are joyfully cared for and tenderly loved by Jesus, the angels, and their many friends. As part of God’s family, they’re never sad or lonely. They love their family on earth but now with an intense, perfected love that is eternal. And one day, as they are swinging on the garden gate, they will see their parents and other loved ones who accepted God’s gift of forgiveness step over the border into heaven!