April 24, 2013

Lessons from a Third Grader

Sandy blond hair askew, he stood there just to the left of the classroom door. Stationed on the end of the second of three rows, he fixated on the back classroom wall at some obscure spot. It seemed as though he was oblivious to the babbling of voices creating a singsong echo around him.

He waited.

As part of the third grade historical wax museum he stood wearing his "press my button to hear my story" button. Each time your button was pushed you were to recite your story.

I stood in front him wishing I hadn't stopped. The blue of his eyes glistened behind the pools of tears they held as he averted my gaze. His nose ran adding more tear streams to his cheeks.

I looked at the teacher and asked, "Does he want me to push his button?" 

"We are encouraging him to participate," she said. 

Hesitantly, I reached out and gently touched his left shoulder where his button was.

Immediately, more tears streamed down his face. He took a deep, deep breath, started shaking, and immediately launched into his story. His gaze never left the back classroom wall. His voice remained a constant tone, even as more and more tears fell from his eyes.

I held back my own tears and smiled.

I have no idea what he said. I was too overcome with emotion to hear anything.

When he finished I bent down and looked at his beautiful face, trying to find him in his blue eyes. I grasped my hands behind my back so I did not wipe his tears away, smiled and said, "wonderful job." He remained wherever he had gone.

I watched others come up to this same boy, press his button, and wait. Through his tears and fear he shared his story. Every single time.

What made this more extraordinary is that this beautiful boy is autistic.

This was not his comfort zone and yet he stood there and participated. He couldn't help but show his fear, but no one minded. I imagine when they day was over he was elated and I hope he was so very proud of himself.

And I pray that those of us who are hindered by our fears, allow ourselves to stand in the midst of uncomfortable and find the courage to participate. When we muster up the strength to take the first step forward. When I will do this tomorrow, becomes today. When this can't work develops into well maybe. 

It is a beautiful thing to witness, an even more beautiful thing to be part of.

For there is a scared holiness touched when we take our "I can't do this..." and try. 

1 comment:

Rachel said...

Love love love! Definitely teared up; kids crying like that breaks my heart. But so proud that he participated! You are an awesome writer btw. :)