Thursday, January 6, 2011

I am the Child...

A couple of years ago I made a photobook for my mom, Ann, and Charlie's mom for Mother's Day and had Blake and Ellie write poems for it. For Tess, I searched the web.

I was looking for poems about children with special needs. And by the way, I hate that stupid label because ALL kids have special needs and there is nothing wrong with saying, 'I have a child with disabilities'. You are not saying that the child has no abilities at all, just saying what is, they cannot do every thing that most able-bodied people can do.

Wow, got off on a tangent there! Anyway, I found several of the cliched ones you would expect to find which always make me want to puke over their sappy, sugary, 'life is perfect even though it isn't' crap, and a few really good ones that made me say, "These people get it".

And then I got it. I'm not sure I truly did before reading this. I'm not sure I ever really got past my own feelings about Tessie to wonder about hers. I mean, sure, I wondered what she thought about or if she felt left out or was hurt. But I never really wondered about whether or not she could feel my frustrations about her situation or my lack of patience with certain things.

And I am so thankful that I stumbled across this poem because every time I feel that frustration and impatience creeping up on me, I look at Tessie and think, "Why am I getting so upset about this? Imagine how she feels." And it usually dials that attitude right back down.

I guess what I am trying to say is that what this particular little piece really did was to give a "voice" ,so to speak, to Tessie. And I really do believe that if she could, my little Toots would tell you all of this herself.

So please read the following carefully. I did not write it but I wish that I had...

I AM THE CHILD

(Author Unknown)

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 strife's 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.

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