On my job as a substitute teacher’s assistant, I have the privilege of working with children who inspire me. Such as inspiring me to do less complaining and more thanking.
I celebrated my 59th birthday last October. I haven’t been a hospital patient since my grandmother carried me out of the hospital into the world. Hospitals are full of children who are not so fortunate. I have crossed paths with school children who know a hospital bed as well as their own bed at home. A sweet boy who survived a transplant at five will say whenever he gets so much as a sniffle, “I’ll probably have to go to the hospital for this.” Sometimes he does.
On a P.E. assignment in the gym, I saw one of the aides with one of his wheelchair-bound students. I teased the aide in saying, “There’s my favorite fella”, while rubbing the little boy’s head. The aide said, “Hey, what about me?” I assured the aide he was a favorite but the young fella was a special one.
The aide released the youngster from his wheelchair so the youngster could crawl around. He can’t stand on his own two feet without a pair of hands holding him up. He can’t say a word but he does make his own unique noises now and then. I met him a few years ago and he walked into my heart. I always look forward to visiting his class because his smile will give my heart a lift.
He has many limitations that prevent him from being in the mainstream. The Good Lord only knows if he’ll ever say his first word or write one. The odds of him not needing the wheelchair are not good. I have often wondered why it is that I was blessed with good health and someone like my little friend can’t use his legs to walk, run, and play. I do believe with all my heart that when its time for him to leave this earth, he will go to a place where he will have no need of a wheelchair and have full use of his legs.
He has won the hearts of his classmates who all have their own challenges too. Challenges that keep them in special ed classroom for however long they need. If he drops a toy, one of them is glad to pick it up. He’s not a burden, he’s one of them.
Outside the classroom, it is different. He is sometimes met with stares. The wheelchair seems to blind their view of the boy who resides in it. If a student gets out of line with staring or laughing, he or she is in big trouble if the boy’s teacher or one of the aides are within sight or earshot.
I don’t know what my favorite fella knows about his being different. He isn’t able to talk about what is on his mind. He has to depend on others to care for him and speak for him. He seems as far as I can tell to be content in the classroom playing with toys that make noise which he puts up to his ear.
I don’t think he would want my sympathy. If he could, I think he would say that a smile would do. One shouldn’t underestimate a smile. My favorite fella’s smile inspires me to do the same.