I’ve written several blogs in the past about how rude and cruel kids can be on a playground to James. They will walk up to him, stare for a bit, then utter something like,
“Why does he look funny?”
Most of the time I can handle it with grace. Give them the benefit of the doubt saying things to myself like, “They are young. They are not informed. They are scared of different.” And then when the grace leaves I say things like, “Where the hell are your parents and why aren’t they teaching you!” Oh, because they are young and not informed and scared of different.
At any rate, I find myself so on edge when I walk to into the maze of wood and plastic, like I’m going into a boxing ring or battle, as I did the other day.
We weren’t there five minutes when this adorable, and I mean adorable, four-year-old blonde girl walks right up to us. She stares at James for the longest time. Then back at me. Then back at James. I can feel the adrenaline kick in. I tell myself she’s only four. I tell myself that I’m the adult.
I tell myself that whatever she says is not going to hurt James because he doesn’t understand it anyway, and it’s only going to hurt me.
But I can handle it. I am strong enough, seasoned enough, wise enough to handle ANYTHING she can throw at me. I imagined her words bouncing off my invisible coat of armor.
After what seemed like forever, she looks right at me and says,
“Are you somebody’s Grandma?”
White towel thrown. Flag raised.
Not everything in life is about “hitting it out of the park”. Sometimes, it’s just about showing up and connecting.
Special need parent warriors will understand my excitement… WE GOT HIM TO HOLD THE BAT!!!
I met some long-time friends, Kent and Maureen Wildman, for dinner last night at a restaurant in Franklin. As we were walking in, I noticed this sign on the window of the store next door. It stopped me dead in my tracks.
Three simple words… We Will Listen.
Maureen approached the owner so I followed. When she asked why the sign, he answered, “Cause we do.” Three more simple words. I told him, “I don’t own a bike but I just may buy one now, so I can come in this store. All because of your sign.”
I was challenged to ask myself where I am on the listening scale?
James doesn’t talk much because of his disabilities, so I don’t have to listen much, at least on an audible level. But what about listening with my heart? To James, or to anyone for that matter. What are my friends saying (or not saying) that I should be hearing? And do they all know that I am someone that will listen?
Years ago, before acceptance was a part of my daily vocabulary with James, I would cry because I felt so lost and afraid and angry.
And one of the most comforting things someone once said to me was, “I hear you.”
That’s it. Those words lingered in the air around me and for a moment, lifted the heavy burden off my heart and held it ever so briefly. They didn’t try to fix it, or make me feel better, they just said, “I hear you.”
We had a lovely meal and fabulous conversation. We laughed and cried and they let me babble about my crazy life. And they listened. Old friends, the ones who knew you when you barely knew yourself, and stuck with you when you always thought you were right when you couldn’t have been more wrong – those friends – yeah, they rock.
On my drive home after dinner, I realized that, as usual, I did most of the talking. (Us creative types usually just want to make sure the mic is on so we can be heard.)
So today, I want to hang a sign on the window of my heart.
This is my prayer; to listen more closely to James, to my friends and to the conversation that life itself is trying to have with me.