On my way to school each morning, I pass a house maybe a half-block from the school. There are times when I see a young man and his dad waiting for the bus. The student is developmentally and cognitively disabled, and my assumption is that this young man goes to a shelter for training.
A special bus comes to pick the young man up and the father walks with his son and waits until he is seated, and then stands at the edge of the driveway and waves as the bus pulls away. It is only then that the father slowly, with a limp, walks back to his house. It happens each day, every day.
It is touching and moving and no matter what I have planned for the day that faces me, no matter how much in a hurry I might be, that scene played out each morning calms me somehow and seems to put me in a better place.
A Parent’s Love.
My father-in-law and mother-in-law, Kim’s parents, are raising my nephew, Shannon, a fifteen year old cognitively and physically challenged boy. Chronologically, Shannon is a year younger than my daughter, Emily, but cognitively, much younger than that. Kim’s sister, died a few years ago from a massive seizure, leaving her son, in the care of her parents.
For parents in their seventies . . . for parents of any age . . . they do a remarkable job providing for Shannon’s emotional and physical needs. They take Shannon to and from a special baseball league just for kids and adults like Shannon. They take him to and from physical therapy and speech therapy, and even a special training center where Shannon learns life skills. They treat him as their own son, not as a grandchild, and the love they have for him and the love he has for them is readily apparent to anyone who takes the time to notice.
A Parent’s Love.
I watch teachers in my building work with kids with autism, Down’s syndrome, and kids with other cognitive and physical disabilities, and their patience and love for our kids is astounding and actually, humbling. They are patient, kind, and nurturing. They truly care about and love these kids as if these kids were their own.
Linda is an art teacher who came to me a year or so ago with an idea. She wanted to develop an art class for kids who are cognitively and physically challenged. And she did. These kids do amazing work. Other regular education students buddy up with one of the other kids and they work as a team. I’m not sure who has more fun, but I do know that without Linda, it wouldn’t have happened for any of them.
Scott is a young man I got to know many years ago when I coached summer basketball camps. Nice young man, a leader, quiet, and humble. Years later, he became an adaptive physical education teacher because he wanted to. “His calling,” he said. When I had commented that he was a gift to these kids, Scott thought about it, smiled, and said, “I think they are a gift to me.”
A Parent’s Love.
You know, there many examples of parents, teachers, coaches, paraprofessionals and volunteers who care for and love their kids, our kids. They don’t view these kids as someone else’s kids. No, not at all. Each of them will tell you that these are their kids. And like Scott, they will tell you that these kids are gifts to them.
Challenging? Yes. Some days tougher than others? Yes. But I have to believe that in each case, after watching these wonderful men and women both young and old, that there are many more good days than bad days. Sort of makes my bad days seem less. Sort of makes my bad days seem not so bad after all. In fact, just thinking about these wonderful men and women, and having the opportunity to give them a shout out, causes me to smile and lightens my load a bit. Something to think about . . .