In Downtown Detroit is a large conference center, Cobo Hall. Many conferences and events are held there. Every holiday season they have a beautiful display of Christmas trees, decorations and holiday items. When PJ was four or five, his teacher had scheduled a field trip to take the class to see the holiday wonderland. She asked some of us parents to go along to help with the children.
That was the last thing that I wanted to do. I reluctantly agreed because I knew that my son was one of the most aggressive, hard to control students that she had. I thought about keeping him and me home and skipping the whole outing, but decided to support her efforts by going along.
Of course the trees and decorations were beautiful. I wondered if PJ even noticed them. He didn’t seem to be aware of any change in his environment during that time. I told myself that even if I was wasting my time that I was trying to be a good mother.
I started looking around at the other children who were there. I saw children in wheelchairs, walkers, braces, helmets. That brought me out of my PJ induced self pity. I had never seen so many children with disabilities in the same place at the same time. What is going on?
Then it hit me. Duh. That’s why you are here today. It is children with special needs day. I was surrounded by children with special needs. That meant that their parents also had special needs. I was not the only parent who had challenges in raising her child. I looked at each of these children and realized that they also had a mother who loved and protected them. If their mother could not love and protect them, I understood that. I’ve been there, too.
Blessings to all “special needs” parents. If I had not become the parent of a child with a disability, I would never have understood what you go through. I wrote this poem for PJ, but feel free to accept it for your own child.
“Special” Special Child (with thanks to Rogers and Hart)
You are my little special child / My funny valentine / An accident of Providence?/ Or are you by design?
It matters not the answer / for you are here with me. / That you’re not like the other kids is mighty plain to see.
But you are a worthy person / who has come a long, long way. / Helping you has helped me grow / to where I am today.
There’s something I must tell you / thought the words are nothing new./ They’ve been sung so many times / I say them now to you.
Is your figure less than Greek? Is your mouth a little weak? / When you open it to speak are you smart?
Though other folks may think you odd / you’re my favorite work of art. / My funny little valentine / you’ve slipped into my heart.
Until next time: May the Peace of God surround you; May the Love of God enfold you.