This week in class I’m teaching my first graders all about finding the moral or lesson of a story. Yesterday we read a book called Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, discovering that the moral of the story was to be thankful for what you have. One of my students also said another lesson to learn is to never give up (they are such astute little kids). Two very important lessons in life, I’d say. Two lessons that I make sure to remember on a daily basis.
As if reading my mind, Quang texts me about a friend from Texas that he is donating money to. He tells me that the sister has cerebral palsy and they are trying to raise money for a disability van. This of course makes me thankful that Carter doesn’t have a more severe disability. But with being thankful for what I have comes the thoughts of what we don’t have. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a natural, common thought. And in my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with wishing for more, as long as you don’t lose sight of what’s right in front of you.
As I sit with Carter eating breakfast in my classroom, I look at his sweet little face and think about what I’m thankful for. I’m thankful he’s here. I’m thankful that he’s happy and healthy. I’m thankful that he’s making progress. I’m thankful that he’s a sweet kid. I could write a whole book on what I’m thankful for. In turn, of course I think about what could have been if Autism weren’t a factor. I think about all the things Carter misses out on. I think about all the things other kids do. Of course, I compare. Because why wouldn’t I? Carter lacks what a lot of kids his age have and can do. I think about my other kids in my class. They can read, they can write, they can have conversations about finding the moral of a story. They can throw a ball, ride a bike, and they can pretend play.
Knowing Carter is healthy and happy is very important to me, but it doesn’t make everything else unimportant. I want him to experience life to the fullest. I want him to have everything. Every little thing. The feeling of freedom from riding on a ferris wheel when you make it to the top. The excitement of hitting a ball with a baseball bat. The anticipation of meeting your favorite super hero or TV character. The joy of your favorite book in your hands. The thrill of your team winning the Superbowl (Go Saints!). The awe of mother nature at her best and at her worst. All those things. The only thing I can do is hope all those things come with a little more time. A little more development. A little more patience. Even with all the frustration and the negative and the stress, I’ll never give up on this kid. How could I? He has so much potential and deserves the time, the encouragement, the patience, the understanding, and the optimism. He deserves it all.
Not wanting everything to be a sad story, allow me to say that I am thankful.
As the time to bring Carter to class gets closer, he understands that it’s time to pick up and get ready for class. He walks up to me, puts his face right in front of mine, our noses touching, and he softly touches my cheeks. He looks directly into my eyes and squeezes my face. As his long lashes close over his eyes, he smiles. It’s like he’s taking it all in. Love. Full of pure, innocent, nonjudgmental love.
The moral of the story is….. even with all the negatives, the wishes for things we don’t have and can’t control, and all the doubt you have -just be thankful for what you do have. Even when it seems like something so small. To others, it might mean something bigger.