With Mother's Day hovering on the horizon, I find it odd that an old memory surfaced and now bears consideration. Do you remember Children's Day? I do. Back in the fifties, when I was a child, there was one. I am sure of it.
I think it was sandwiched somewhere between Mother's Day and Father's Day. Rather appropriate, somehow, as that was the way we sat in the pew in church, sandwiched between Mom and Dad. My father with his arm draped across the back of the pew with me nuzzled up against the scratchy wool of his suit. Next to me, my brothers huddled over a rumpled church bulletin, surreptitiously playing a game of Hang Man, while my mother, to their right, averted her eyes and sighed.
Children's Day. Children assuming all the grown up roles. Children's choir. An "elder" child sermonizing from the pulpit while standing on a box to reach the microphone. Kids, young people, babes-in-arms singing their favorite hymns. Boys with spit- slicked hair boasting carnations on their lapels, ushering parents to their seats, while little girls in patent leather Mary Janes stood meeting and greeting.
Children's Day with the knee-high-to-a-grasshopper generation leading the celebration.
I must have blinked, because one day I noticed Children's Day had disappeared from the calendar. I vaguely recall someone fussing that "children" didn't need a special day because children are special everyday.
Children too special? Special children?
I miss it.
I know about special children.
You do too.
You mothers and fathers everywhere.
You know about the special children.
I was a special education teacher in my former life. I used a yardstick to measure progress and to post benchmarks. My yardstick, however, allowed for steps to be taken forward on all those infinite little spaces between an inch and a foot. At the end of the year, when others stood in line for spelling trophies, debate ribbons, and scholastic honors, I celebrated Children's Day with my own special children honors. I wrote for them. Each one.
Award: Rising To the Top
Red hair is no guarantee that you will set the world on fire. Red hair does mean that you WILL be noticed. That you WILL stand out in a crowd. That people will remember you. HOW people remember you and what they remember you for...takes COURAGE. Especially when learning means lots of bumps and bruises. When you fall and you must get up again and again. People will forget that you fell. They will honor your courage in rising to try once more. T. has GREAT COURAGE, GREAT RED HAIR and a GREAT BIG SMILE. Why? Because he finished the year not only on his feet, but ON TOP OF THE WORLD.
Award: Most Promising Author
A storyteller. A teller of tales. A master of words. A designer of fantasy. J. creates a world of his own through the wonder of his imagination and lets it all trickle down to the paper before him. Then with one magic breath, he gives the story life. He catches us, one by one, like flies on sticky paper. A good author adds a page to our lives. Perhaps one day we will find his works on the shelves in the library.
Award: The Power Of Determination
A. is the most determined person I know. A. is careful, methodical, and cautious. She knows all the rules forward and back. She keeps me on my toes and at attention. She reminds me when I skip a page or forget a number. A. is my Daily Planner. Some people think being determined means being STUBBORN, or TOUGH or HARD-HEADED. Yup. That's exactly what it means. And that is exactly what A. needed to be. When you're in the BATTLE for your life and your body says ...quit...that's when being determined gets you through...the long hours in the hospital...and the pokes and the ouches and the BIGGER ouches...and forgetting things you used to know and being STUBBORN enough to keep looking for them, long after others might have given up. Life is TOUGH...but A. has been TOUGHER. She was DETERMINED to make this a wonderful year. Together we itched some places that needed to be scratched...we found out how wonderful it can be...to not give up...and we even found out how to laugh along the way.
Award: Faced the Challenge
I don't think everyone understands as well as J. does, that life is a struggle. What separates her from the rest of us is not that she falls nor that she falls many times...it is that she keeps getting back on her feet...no complaint..no pity..no thank you. All she wanted to do this year was to get around without her wheelchair and after doing that, she went on to do what she has always wanted most...to do things on her own and to have someone to do those things with beside her and not behind her.
Award: Character and A Sense of Humor
D. would make an excellent gardener. He would handle each and every seed with wonder. He would dream of the possibilities of what that seed could become. He would be gentle placing it in the ground and each day lean down and tell it a joke. He would watch it grow. He would never stand in the way of the sun. If the seeds were stubborn and refused to come out of the ground, D. would make them giggle. If they grew taller than the others, he would teach them to bend down to be with the other flowers once in awhile. And if there was one flower, less beautiful, or one that had turned from the sun, D. would put it in the center of the bouquet. D. has a twinkle in his eye. I think he was born with it. I think his job is to remind us that life is short. That life is precious. That life is wonderful. He is wonderful. D. helps us all grow.
Special children all.
Special Children's Day.
A fortnight ago, I was in the company of a relatively new Mom and Dad, their son eighteen months old. He began to cry. Not hungry. Not wet. Not sick. Not talking. In that second, I rode the time train backwards to those difficult days, when children are too young to tell you what they need. When there are no books to read, no manual to follow, just your instincts which tell you to hold...to sit...to rock back and forth...to soothe.
Happy Children's Day.