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.

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