“The hard part is trying to answer the questions Walker raises in my mind every time I pick him up, What is the value of a life like his — a life lived in the twilight and often in pain? What is the cost of his life to those around him? … If Walker is so insubstantial, why does he feel so important? What is he trying to show me?” -excerpt from Ian Brown’s Memoir “ The Boy in the Moon: A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son“
Wouldn't it be easy if we could read minds? If we could see the inner spirit of the person standing in front of us? Maybe we would see that they have trouble with their knee, that it causes sleepless nights, painful mornings and the occasional missed walk with friends. We might look and see someone who is hurting, someone who wants something, anything to fill a void in their lives. We might look past the normal exterior and see a personal locked inside themselves, 'disabled', 'abnormal', 'challenged'? It is so frustrating to see how mean people can be. It is so hard to look at someone 'able bodied' and see with cruel irony that they are actually the 'abnormal', 'disabled' and 'challenged' ones. How can you look with anything but wonder at the miracles that make up special needs kids. Each one has fought the odds, at great cost and often pain, to be here today. They have faced so much more than we can imagine or would want to take on personally, they have the strength to continue on when it seems hopeless and to work harder than anyone else to achieve even the most basic things.
I watch the kids and Josh and I feel a lump growing in my throat because once upon a time I would have missed the wonder that these kids represent, I would have seen only the awkwardness, I would have struggled with what to say, I would have been the challenged one. My heart aches that I have to admit that, that it takes my own son to teach me such a valuable lesson on life.
I can see the strange glances Josh gets, the ones that people don't think anyone can see but always follow after Josh has struggled with a word, or when that word has come out sounding funny. When he won't answer them, or when he only repeats what they have said. The look that says 'how old is that child?' or worse 'poor thing'.
As the Mum of a special kid who happens to struggle can I tell you... we see the looks, we have a keen eye for anything negative towards our children and one small act of thoughtlessness causes us pain. I can only hope that I can teach my kids to love a person for who they are, how they treat you and not by the level of 'ability' or 'normalcy' they may or may not have.
While on the subject - my son is normal, and so are the kids he goes to school with, and so are all the other 'special needs kids' in the world, they are ALL normal, in fact, they are extraordinary, and miracles who have climbed higher, cried harder and felt more and still manage to smile. We could all do to take some lessons from those 'abnormal' kids.