Mystery Lane

Mystery Lane

Friday, April 26, 2013


When I was growing up there was a boy in my class named Glenn.  Glenn had special needs.  Actually I think he might have had cerebral palsy but I’m not sure.  Glenn was never in any of my classes, he was always in the special education room.  Sometimes I would see Glenn in the hallways or sitting in his classroom, but that was the extent of my exposure to him.  I remember saying hi to him a few times and just getting a smile or a look from him.  I was curious about Glenn but he was so different I wasn’t really sure how to act around him.  It is really kind of sad to think about now.  Since having Jackson I have thought about Glenn more and more.  I wonder what his actual diagnosis is, if he was born with it or it was a result of something else, I wonder about his parents and their journey of raising Glenn.  I grew up in a very small town in the mountains of Colorado.  There were only 50 some kids in my class and they came from about 5 different towns.  Small town usually means not a lot of services for a kid with special needs. I wonder if there were even things such as physical and occupational therapy for Glenn.  One vision I can’t get out of my head is Glenn walking across the stage at our high school graduation.  He got a standing ovation and I remember thinking it was so cool that he graduated with us.  I wish I could go back in time and watch his parents that day.  I have no doubt there were tears and pride on their faces.  Most of all I wonder where Glenn is today and what his life is like. 
Recently, Jackson and I went to an elementary school to talk at an assembly about the Guild School (the school Jackson attended until he was 3) and to tell them Jackson’s story.  I love doing these presentations.  The kids always respond so positively to Jackson.  I was talking to them about how it is okay to be different, how if we were all the same that would be boring.  And that no matter how different we may all be, we all want the same kind of things – to be loved, to have friends, to be able to do the things we want to do.  This is always an important part of my speech to me because I want these children to know that Jackson is a person too, that he is just a kid like them.  I hope that by doing that they will someday remember Jackson when they see someone different than them and instead of being rude or bullying them, they will have a better understanding of and compassion for that person. 
I think the best thing we can do as parents is to expose our children, at a young age, to all kinds of people.  People with different colored skin, people with disabilities, people who have different interests than us, people who have different families than ours.  When children learn at a young age that people who are different from us is an okay and normal thing, they will grow up to be kindhearted and thoughtful human beings.  They won’t stare or be afraid when they see someone in a wheelchair.  They won’t grow up thinking different is bad.  And that is good.
I don’t know who wrote the following poem but I think it is fitting for this post. 

Here's to the kids who are different
The kids who don't always get A's.
The kids who have ears twice the size of their peers,
And noses that go on for days....
Here's to the kids who are different,
The kids they call crazy or dumb,
The kids who don't fit in,
with the guts and the grit,
Who dance to the beat of a different drum....
Here's to the kids who are different,
The kids with the mischievous streak,
For when they have grown,
as history's shown,
It’s their difference that makes them unique.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Spring Break

When I was a teacher I couldn’t wait for Spring Break to start.  As a new mom of 3 I couldn’t wait for Spring Break to be over!  Whew what an exhausting week it was.  I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through Monday, let alone a whole week.  But somehow I did.  Amidst all the whirlwind of moving the kids in, shopping for supplies for their rooms and school, numerous trips to the grocery store and Costco, getting them new shoes, Daniel developing some weird rash all over his upper body, getting a new pediatrician, finding a new daycare, piles of paperwork, piles of laundry, cooking, cooking, and cooking, we somehow managed to have some fun excursions.  It was a bit overwhelming but I enjoyed spending the week with the kids.
Since we have been spending time with the kids for the last 3 months I felt I knew them pretty well and was ready for them to move in.  Boy was I in lala land.  Ha!  Living with them is a bit different than visiting with them every weekend.  The most incredible thing I have discovered is sibling rivalry.  Oh how I’ve come to hate sibling rivalry!  “He’s touching me.”  “She’s looking at me.”  “He’s walking in front of me.”  “She is standing by the door.”  Good god.  I think it basically comes down to the fact that they each exist.  They both hate that about each other.  In all honestly I have come to truly appreciate Jackson’s lack of ability to speak.  His little noises are music to my ears.  I even resorted to the “no talking for 5 minutes” game.  It didn’t work.  Daniel found a way to still make noise with his fake sneezes and fake coughs.  Which then lead to Sylvia proclaiming “He’s sneezing!” “He’s coughing!”  “No fair!”  Which then lead Daniel to proclaim he had to cough/sneeze, it was all innocent of course.  Which then lead me to realize my mistake in not planning some kind of discipline tactics.  I’m discovering all new joys (or should I say distress) of parenting.  The mind boggling thing is that one day we have non-stop sibling rivalry, then the next day we have two really great kids who play quietly and nicely together. I guess that is nature’s way of preventing parents from institutionalizing themselves. 
In all fairness the kids are actually pretty great.  They are funny, sweet, caring, energetic and just plain fun.  We are really enjoying having them in our home, making new memories and becoming a family.  Our lives are definitely different, no more quiet house, no more free time to just hang out and watch TV or check Facebook, no more, no more, no more.  But the truth is I like it this way.  Oh I do miss the free time and quiet time for sure, but our house is more lively and fun now.  Even Jackson seems to like the new craziness in the house.  It’s been an adjustment for all of us, but adjusting we are.  The kids seem happy, relaxed and secure.  Daniel’s teacher told me this week that you wouldn’t have known he went through a big transition, he hasn’t shown any signs of it in class.  Great news!  I want the kids to trust us and have a sense of security that we are there for them.  So far I think they know that and that is important progress for them after all they have been through over the last few years.  I think it will be a continual work of progress for the near future.
It’s funny to think that just a few short months ago it was just me and my 2 boys with no idea what was in store for us.  Within 3 months we fell in love with 2 kids, built 2 bedrooms in our house, moved them in, and are now a family of 5.  As Douglas Adams said “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.”