I am a very lucky person.
I grew up in a wonderland. My mom runs an in-home-family childcare, and she had done so since before I was born. That meant that, as a child, my home was filled with children and experience. Every day was a rich tapestry of possibilities to learn and to teach. The value of this is that a lesson is truly internalized once you have actively passed it on to another, and I was able to engage in this practice over and over again throughout my life.
I saw so many different cultures, so many different ways of living, and I was able to actively participate in helping so many people just by getting up in the morning and leaving my bedroom. I can’t count the number of times I skipped school to stay home and partake in this adventure.
There are so many stories I could tell, and I’m going to share one with you now. It is one that I hold very dear in my heart, and my love for this little boy (who isn’t so little now, given that this happened quite a while ago) still causes my heart to swell whenever I think of him.
This child came to us at the age of two with the functioning capacities of a newborn infant. I will call him Kurtis. He lay there, on my mother’s couch, staring blankly at the world around him and completely failing to notice it. Though he was two years of age, he was no bigger than a baby. The technical term for this is failure to thrive.
My mom is an exceptional woman. She never accepts things at face value, so when she was told there was no hope for this boy she simply decided she would–as she always has–ignore this advice and help him anyway. I love her for this stubborn and loving spirit, it has saved so many lives.
Kurtis was not with his parents at this time, though he would be happily reunited with them within months of being in my mother’s care. She had so little time with this soul, but she set about doing whatever she could to help immediately. I remember both her and I taking turns carrying him around our small, wood-frame house, nestled in the crook of an arm as one would an infant. We did this so he would be around the other children and the day’s activity, not lying on the couch where he would be completely removed from the action.
This did not seem to do much.
Our house was always bustling. Art projects, science projects, dramatic play, music time, dance time, happy times all around. The laughter of children blissfully at play was never far from my ears. Our house sat on an acre of land, almost squarely in the middle, meaning there was a decent-sized front and back yard for the children’s activities. One day, while I was at school, something changed in little Kurtis’s world. One day, quite by accident, my mom found the key to solving his dilemma.
The children, in top form, had set out a T-ball stand. They, being ever the organized lot, were hustling and bustling behind each other–awaiting their turns at bat as patiently as a group of rambunctious children let loose in the sunshine are capable of doing. My mom was sitting apart from them, holding little Kurtis in her lap. She noticed something, he began to squirm ever so slightly. Paying close attention now, while also managing the others, she realized that he was doing something else new–he was paying attention too.
This was it, the key! T-ball and, as she would later discover, baseball. She set forth engaging him with this as often as possible. She would put baseball games on television because Kurtis would pay attention to it! She played T-ball with the children on an almost daily basis because Kurtis would become excited by it! Soon little Kurtis was noticing all sorts of things, soon little Kurtis wasn’t so passive when we carried him about the house in the crooks of our arms, suddenly little Kurtis was a part of the world.
The human spirit is truly a courageous thing. Soon Kurtis was not content to merely watch the other children play, it became evident that he was hell-bent on playing T-ball with them. So began his learning process, and it happened quickly. I saw a determination in that two-year-old child that many adults do not have. Nothing was going to stand in his way.
We had the joy of being a part of Kurtis’s life for no more than six months. By the end of those months he was doing much more than noticing: he was playing T-ball. He was running, he was laughing, he was starting to make the first noises that later become language, he was living. I will never, ever, forget holding his little hands in my own and walking him through our yard to collect Easter eggs with the other children. There was a quiet joy in that moment that will stay with me forever. I will always know that I had a hand in directly changing a life. That is the moment I truly realized the full power of working miracles. It is the moment I knew that, no matter what anyone says–most especially the experts–love and dedication combined are an unstoppable force for change and nothing can stand in the way of the triumph of the human spirit.
I do not know where Kurtis or his family is today, or how they are doing. Like so many others, he came into our lives for a beautiful moment–a bright ray of sunshine I will carry with me always.
***Note: I realize this doesn’t fit the B4Peace theme for the month from EverydayGurus (forgiveness), I just felt like it was a really good example of spreading peace in the world–I hope you all will forgive me =).
Lend your voice to the peace movement, find the details here. Once you’ve joined (if you don’t already participate) give these other peace posts a read: