In my second grade, there was a boy named Michael. He had fogged up glasses sliding down his runny nose. He didn’t walk or stride ….he hobbled like a baby taking his first steps. You knew he was coming near when you heard a tip toe sound. When Michael saw girls, he puckered up his lips and gave air kisses. We stayed clear of Michael.
One sunny recess, some friends and I were running around on perfect spring day. The scatterings of dandelions was like sunshine that had rained down from the sky. Then there he was.
“Well, Well …what ….DO we have here?” Michael said in his sly little voice. “One…..two…. three…. four girls.”
“EEEK! ” we screamed.
“It’s Michael, let’s get out of here.” I shouted.
But one of us didn’t turn to run. She picked up a dandelion and bravely walked close enough to rub that yellow staining flower under his chin.
“Do you like butter?” my friend asked Michael.
“Yes, on toast, pancakes, and waffles.” Michael answered.
“Good! Because here’s some!” yelled my friend.
We joined in and grabbed handfuls of dandelions rubbing his cheeks, forehead, and hands…. . Michael looked like he had splattered himself with mustard.
Then we all gathered around pelting him in the face causing him to fall to the ground.
“Stop that now!” yelled a booming voice. “You girls should be ashamed!”
The man reached his hand out to Michael and pulled him up. Michael immediately embraced him. We knew that man must have been Michael’s father. The bell rang and together with hands over shoulder, they turned and walked back to the school
As the rest of the swarm of kids raced to the line up, we stood frozen in shame.
Goldi and I were standing out in another field one not so springy day. We huddled close together as the winter wind haunted the promise that spring had really arrived. A school field trip had brought us outside to a certain horse farm.
Goldi watched with bright eyes as kids took turns taking a ride around the huge arena. She flapped and jumped when some she called “Friend” rode with ease. She hobbled along the bumpy ground and nearly stepped into a pile of manure.
It was the first year of Goldi’s involvement in her school’s peer to peer program. It was one of the first times I had seen interactions between my own quirky one and those more “typical”.
“That was so fun!” said a girl to Goldi who had just taken her turn on a horse.
“Don’t you want to try?” invited another.
“NO!” shrieked Goldi
“We will take our turn soon.” I said.
“No mom! Goldi said loudly yanking my arm.
Blank stares from Goldi’s peers seemed pressed against her full display of quirkiness.
Many walked away.” She’s got autism” I read from their shrugged shoulders.
As soon as Goldi had taken her place on Chloe the horse, and rode all the way around the perimeter of the arena, I heard not teasing nor laughing but ….clapping and cheering from her PEERS. I looked down to the grass to hide my tears. Face down , I noticed a a clump of dandelions. It was like sunshine rained down.
I know now that Michael’s quirkiness was autism and as peers to Michael we were staying in our own “I am better than you world.” Goldi’s autism invites the same response we gave to Michael. Only her peers are learning to realize she is a part of their world.
I wish I could see Michael today . I would offer him a fresh bouquet of dandelions in a vase tied in a gold ribbon. Make that two bouquets. I really need a big one for Goldi’s peers.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Philippians 2:3
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8