I was a government employee in Washington D.C. for 22 1/2 years. I have volumes of memorable moments such as seeing in person three of our Presidents, three White House tours, and had the opportunity to attend a speech given by Shirley Temple. By the way, for those who saw Shirley Temple movies, she still had her dimples.
All those moments were unforgettable but yet can’t hold a candle to a moment that occurred a few years after leaving D.C. behind. It was in a special education classroom where I was subbing as a teacher’s aide. Like myself, most of the students are living on the autism spectrum.
One is short for her age and quite thin. She has brown hair and wears dark-framed glasses. Her voice reminded me of a “Little Professor” with a personality to match. I gathered she was Daddy’s girl because her Dad is on top of her list of subjects to talk about. He is often out of town and she misses him so.
When I first met this charming little girl, she came up, shook my hand, and introduced herself. This is not how it usually happens. Most students do not give me a formal greeting, if one at all. She was small for her age, but she acted as if she was twenty-nine going on thirty.
This young lady has had more illness than I’ve had in my entire 58 years of living. One wouldn’t know by looking at her that she has health issues. I’m only reminded when she tires easily and has to take a nap. Her autism is one of a number of challenges she has on her plate. She is more familiar than any child should ever be of the inside of a hospital room and the feel of a hospital bed. She knows what it is to have a transplant and knows what it is to be close to death.
As we were lined up to go home at the end of the school day, this sweet child takes my hand. She says to me, “I like you.” I still get teary-eyed whenever that memory pops into my mind. It still means the world to me that the “Little Professor” likes me.