Archive for September, 2011

Down, Set, Hut!

Here he is!  My football player!

I’m so proud of him.

He’s playing defensive end.

He’s practicing hard.  He’s taking the hits.

He’s blocking.  He’s recovering fumbles.

He’s improving.

He’s going regularly to the chiropractor to “fix” what got jostled.

He’s lost his lock for his athletics locker.

He’s lost one of his cleats.

He’s put up with a lot of disorganization and frustration in the program.

But he’s loving it and doing well.

#22.

(Actually he was #46 in last week’s game so I won’t fall in love with the number just yet.)

Left at the Curb

I had another painful experience today.  But this time it didn’t involve one of my children.  But it sure could have been one of mine!

I arrived at Elliot’s school around 9:00 this morning to pick him up for a chiropractor appointment.  There were at least 8 buses lined up in front of the school.  And as I made my way into the building to sign Elliot out, all of the 8th graders were heading down the sidewalk towards the buses.  With the group of 8th graders was a girl who is in a wheelchair that I have noticed several times before.  I always see her daddy bring her to school and pick her up in the afternoons.

Anyway, all the 8th graders and their teachers quickly moved to their assigned buses and headed on their way.

I signed Elliot out at the office and then stepped outside to wait on him.  I watched the last of the buses pull out of the parking lot, heading out on the 8th grade field trip.

I was surprised to see the girl in the wheelchair still waiting at the end of the sidewalk.  No one was with her except the school secretary.  I quickly realized that someone had forgotten to order a wheelchair bus when they set up transportation for this field trip.  And every single one of this girl’s friends were well on their way, enjoying each other’s presence on the bus together.  No one had thought to order a wheelchair bus, and no one had thought to grab a handful of students to stick around and ride the bus with this student.

So because this girl is dependent on a wheelchair, she was going to have to ride all alone, accompanied only by the school secretary.  How many 8th graders do you know who would think that was fun??!!

The secretary and the 8th grade girl waited nearly 10 minutes for a wheelchair bus to arrive.  (Thankfully the school is close to the bus barn!)  The bus driver got out of the bus to let down the wheelchair lift but she couldn’t get it to work.  After another 5 minutes or so, Elliot came out and was ready to go.  We left to go to the chiropractor.  The bus driver was still losing her battle with the wheelchair lift.  And the girl still sat at the curb in her wheelchair . . . and all of her friends were 15 minutes down the road.

Un. be. lieve. able!

 

Excluded

Today Chloe came home early from school because she wasn’t feeling well.  Since she was home early, she was in the car with me when I picked Zippy up from school.  And since Texas’ temperatures have fallen out of the triple digits this week, I had the van windows down while we waited.

Right around 3, all the 3rd graders at this, our neighborhood elementary school, paraded past our van.  For those of you who don’t know, Chloe should have been one of those 3rd graders, but Chloe was not allowed to attend this school this year because of her disabilities.  All the 3rd graders walking past Chloe’s window knew Chloe; they liked and missed Chloe.  One by one, the children slowed their pace and greeted Chloe by name through her open window.

There was a chorus of “Hi, Chloe!”      “Hi, Chloe!”

Chloe silently waved at her friends as they passed by.

Several of the children slowed and stared at Chloe as they were surprised to be seeing her.  “Chloe!” was repeated a dozen times.

It was odd to see their initial excitement at seeing their friend turn quickly to questions as they wondered why they hadn’t seen her this year.  I’m sure they wondered why she was there  . . . and not here with them.

It was another painful and pathetic experience.  I choked back tears, wondering what Chloe and the other children were thinking.

“The difference between children with disabilities and children without disabilities has very little to do with the children but, instead, has to do with the way adults react to them.”           ~ John Hockenberry ~ 

Dumb Enough

Last night Zippy was in the living room floor playing with Coco, our little dog who somehow is still with us.  The dog and Zippy were both having a good time and using up some stored-up energy a little before bedtime.

Since I adore the dog so (please imagine MUCH sarcasm here), I bought him a new toy — a little squeaky stuffed raccoon or something or other.  Zippy grabbed the new toy from the dog and hid it behind his back, confusing the dumb little dog.

“I wonder if he’ll be dumb enough to do this!” Zippy said as he placed the beloved stuffed raccoon on his own head.  Before I even had time to redirect the whole lack of forethought thing, the dog went running full-force at Zippy’s face and plunged his 10-pound body, complete with pointy little paws directly into Zippy’s face.  Stunned, Zippy fell to his back holding his face and moaning.

Amazed at what I had just witnessed and trying to stifle a big ol laugh at Zippy’s expense, I just sat silently and stared.  I may have shook my head a little in disbelief.

“Whoa . . . ” Zippy said as he sat back up.  He sat stunned for a few seconds.  “I wonder if he’ll do it again,” Zippy said as he placed the raccoon back up on his own head.

Unable to watch it again, I left the room.  I have no idea how many times the dog waylaid Zippy and the raccoon.  I have no idea how many times Zippy continued to wonder.  I really don’t want to know.

What I do know is that less than 5 minutes later, Zippy filled a cup with ice cubes and plopped himself down on the couch.  Not surprisingly, he quickly got a big ol ice cube stuck onto his lips — frozen in place to both of Zippy’s lips.  I just shook my head in disbelief as he realized the ice was seriously stuck.

And then right before my eyes, Zippy grabbed that ice cube and ripped! it off of his lips.  And just like that, the ice cube was freed from Zippy’s face.

The first thing he noticed was the piece of lip on the ice cube.  The next thing he noticed was the taste of blood.  The next thing he noticed was his mama yelling at him to get a rag and go clean himself up.

It was a really amazing 7 minutes to witness.  Probably not the kid’s finest 7 minutes . . . .  I’m just sayin’.

And this morning when I saw the scab on his lip from the whole ice cube experience, I knew I had not made it up.  Really, I couldn’t have made that up.  The kid amazes me!

Giving Up

I had a sobering conversation with a friend recently.  He told me about a friend of his who has a child with a disability.  They had talked a little bit about my fight for inclusion for Chloe and the troubles that we face in that journey.

Not surprisingly, that journey was not unfamiliar to my friend’s friend.  She knew that journey well from walking it with her now-grown child many years ago.  But it was her words that made my heart hurt deeply.

“I gave up,” she admitted.

She had tried to fight the fight.  She had tried to rally the troops.  She had tried to educate and inform.  She had tried to advocate.  But she finally just gave up out of pure exhaustion.  She was spent, and she was done.  And she gave up nearly 2 decades ago.

“I finally realized that I was the only one who cared,” were some more of her painfully honest words.

<sigh>

She didn’t have the comraderie that I have today.  She didn’t have the ease of research and availability of support and information.  She was a pioneer.  And I think she was a brave one.  She tried.  And I salute her, and I thank her, and I mourn with her.  For her and for her child.

Do stories like hers make us falter and decide it’s just not worth the fight the tears and the stress?

Or do stories like hers strengthen us, adding to our resolve and our stamina?

While her story made me so sad and her words have invaded my thoughts often since that conversation, I think mostly I have added my friend’s friend and her grown child to my list of reasons to keep up the fight.  To keep on educating and informing and fighting for the rights of people with disabilities – namely my 9-year-old daughter.  For, ultimately, it is, of course, all about Chloe and all for Chloe.  But the truth of the matter is that every victory won for Chloe, every right that benefits Chloe, affects a whole group of individuals who are fighting for their rights.  And I am proud to be advocating for them . . . for her . . . for him. . . .

Caterpillar

The family piled into the car, headed to church.

The boys were frustrated with each other.  The parents were frustrated with their boys.  Zach and Mom both had a headache . . .   Yep!  A typical Sunday morning!

While backing out of the driveway, Chloe asked for her caterpillar toy.  She thought it was in the car.  Elliot unbuckled and looked around for Caterpillar.  Unfortunately, Caterpillar was nowhere to be found so Elliot explained to Chloe that it must be back at home.

About a half-mile down the road, I realized that I had forgotten something that I needed so I turned the car around and headed back home.

As I pulled in the driveway and prepared to hop out of the car and hustle back in the house, Chloe got my attention.  “Caterpillar!” she signed and vocalized.

I laughed out loud and agreed to grab Caterpillar while I was inside.

Again, it was just a simple, typical thing that cracked me up and took me by surprise.  Again, it was a regular ol’, typical thing that made me so happy and proud of Chloe.

It was just a “Hey, while you’re in there, would you grab Caterpillar?” kinda comment.

And it totally made my day!

A Knife for Zachary

(Love to grab your attention with a title like that!!  LOL!  I would love to hear what your thoughts were when you read the title!  Leave me a comment and let me know!!)

Finnish outdoor knife for fishing and hunting

Image via Wikipedia

Recently, a young boy rode in our van with us.  The boy is 10 and has a little brother who just turned 7.  The boy began sharing tales of his and his brother’s adventures out on  their land  . . . and the adventures involved knives.  REAL knives!  Apparently they both have a collection of REAL KNIVES!

Well, I have a child who loves swords and knives.  I have a child who drools with pleasure each time I open the knife drawer and choose a knife for slicing or dicing.  I have a child who was listening to this boy’s tales with disbelief and awe.

Yes, Zippy.  Zippy loves knives and swords and has since he was about 3.  I know for years all of our friends thought a little sword or knife was permanently implanted in his hand because it went everywhere Zippy went.

Zippy, excited about the tales he was hearing, began his spiel about how unfair it was that a 7-year-old has a real knife but Zippy doesn’t.  After all, Zippy’s 10 — plus a couple of months!  He wanted to know why he can’t have a knife.  He asked if he could have one for his birthday.  He chanted that he, too, wanted a knife.  And while we’re talking about it, he also wants a REAL sword for Christmas!!

Then Paul asked the question:  “Zippy, tell me 3 things you’d do with a knife.”

I instructed everyone to be quiet and not help him think of his 3 things.

Except for the uhs and ummmmms, Zippy was silent.  He was searching for some great knife ideas that would be practical and necessary.  But he was unable to find any.

Finally he piped up, “You know those woods by that red light?  I could find some pigs!”

“Yeah,” I agreed, suppressing laughter at picturing Zippy hunting wild boar with his knife.

What followed were more uhs and ummmmms as Zippy’s imagination was searching for more exciting ideas.

“Well, I would say fish except our lake is catch and release,” he explained.  Good point that a fish that had been stabbed with a knife by a young boy would not be a fish to release back into the lake.  Elliot reminded him that there are other lakes in which he could use his knife to catch fish.  Zippy liked that idea and chose “fish” as his second answer.

Again, there were uhs and ummmmmmms coming from the backseat.

“SNAKES!” Zippy exclaimed.  “I could use it for snakes!”

Paul and I agreed that those were 3 interesting ideas to consider for kniving activities.

“So, can I have one???!!!” Zippy wanted to know.

“Not today,” came his wise mother’s reply.  🙂

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