I’m a little…actually, a lot…fired up right now because of an article I just read. Apparently, a special-needs teacher in Indiana decided on award night to present one of her male students with the Most Annoying Male award. Yes, you read that correctly. She did this in front of all the other students and their parents, including the parents of this young boy.
OK. You have the background now for why I’m upset. To publicly humiliate this boy and his parents is inexcusable. To do it in this fashion is heartless. And the fact that this woman actually teaches special-needs students is beyond belief.
Yesterday evening, after we ate supper and as I was cleaning the kitchen, I looked over at our kitchen table. The evening sun was shining in the windows beside our table, highlighting the beautiful flowers that Gary brought to me last week for our anniversary. The flowers still look so gorgeous, so bright and cheerful, that I just had to snap a picture.
When I look at those pretty flowers, I’m reminded of Gary’s love for me over all these years, and how he showed it on this particular occasion. Gary shows his love for me every day in so many ways, but he knew that these flowers would be a very special way to demonstrate his love on our special #40 anniversary.
Later, I went out to the garage to talk to Gary while he whittled on a walking-stick he’s finishing. It wasn’t long, though, before we heard the familiar sound of Aaron’s fast walking headed in our direction through the house. He loudly opened the door and barreled into the garage, primed to talk about whatever was on his mind. So much for our quiet conversation, Gary and I both said without speaking as we looked at each other.
I became occupied with some things that needed my attention, soon realizing that Aaron had disappeared but had not gone back into the house. I stepped out on the driveway and sure enough saw Aaron at our neighbor’s house. He was standing at their pool talking to them as they were, I’m sure, trying to have a few moments of conversation without interruption from either of their young boys. After calling to him a few times, Aaron turned to come home, and I turned back into our garage.
A few seconds later, Aaron rounded the corner and ran excitedly into the garage. “Here, Mom!!!” he exclaimed. Into my face he thrust his gift…a decrepit looking and closed-up Dandelion.
Aaron was all smiles as he awaited my reaction, holding this unimpressive Dandelion under my nose. Honestly, my first initial impulse was to say something like this: “Oh Aaron, how sweet, but I don’t need a Dandelion in the house.”
Yet something stopped me as I saw Aaron’s huge smile and looked at how his eyes were sparkling with delight. So, I took the little Dandelion and instead thanked Aaron. When I did, Aaron spontaneously put his arm around me and gave me the sweetest side hug! If you know Aaron, you know how unusual this was! I hugged him back, a little awkwardly because I had been turning to walk away and because I was so surprised at his hug.
Aaron chuckled, full of satisfaction at his good deed. I told him to come with me and we would put this special flower in some water. This made Aaron very happy! When I put the browning and unimpressive Dandelion in a small plastic glass of water, you would have thought I had put a gorgeous bouquet in a crystal vase. Aaron grinned from ear to ear as he bounded back outside to talk some more to Gary.
I decided to put Aaron’s little gift beside Gary’s big gift, which only accentuated the smallness of this meager Dandelion. Yet, in no way was Aaron’s intent any smaller than Gary’s. Both were full of love, expressed in two different and yet two very sweet ways.
This is Aaron. He does, in the midst of his often perplexing and annoying ways, show us his love. He shows love on his terms and in his times, not usually on ours. But in allowing him this freedom we are also allowing him to be expressive in manners that suit him and that come from deep in his heart. It’s beautiful to see!
You notice I did say that Aaron can be annoying. Aren’t all of our children, at times? Yet never would I publicly shame Aaron as this teacher did to her student. Our special children often find it impossible to function as expected in our complex world, but they are rarely setting out to purposely be annoying. It’s up to us as parents and as teachers to understand this and to respond appropriately.
I don’t always understand, and I don’t always respond as I should. Like last night as I said goodnight to Aaron, why did I choose that time to mention his need of improving his showering skills? It took him a while to wind down from that, just when I am most tired, but what did I expect? There are times I need a lip zipper, for real!!
This morning I saw that Aaron’s closed and rather ugly Dandelion had opened fully and was a bright yellow. I showed Aaron, and he smiled a smile that was as bright as his Dandelion gift.
Our special children…ALL of our children…will open and thrive if given the opportunity. A little water and some light totally changed my little Dandelion. He still looked small beside the larger vase of flowers, but he has quite a large place in my heart.
Just like our Aaron. If given the chance, he can shine along with the biggest and the best. It’s just going to be in HIS way, and I need to know that this is a good thing. A very good thing!
I also need to remember to point out to Aaron his own progress and accomplishments. He loves hearing affirmation, just like he loved seeing his Dandelion gift sitting there looking brand new. It reminded him that he had made a very good choice!
I pray that Indiana special-needs teacher will understand this someday, too. And I especially pray that her student will be nurtured and will open up to his full potential…and that someone certainly threw away that awful “award!”