Peer to Peer

Michael had fogged up glasses that slid 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 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.

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 out and pulled Michael up. There was a father and son embrace. The bell rang.

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.

” She’s got autism” I read from their shrugged shoulders.

Though Goldi was settled on just watching, I insisted she ride just like her friends.
“No! I won’t! Don’t make me!” she cried. She shrieked, she yelled.
“She’s got autism.” I read from their shrugged shoulders.

“We will try this just like your friends!” I said. I nudged her into the fenced area and up the stair boost to seat her on Chloe. I held her and walked alongside.
“No! Don’t make me! Get me off! Goldi screamed.
“We will do this just like your friends!” I insisted.
Her friends had all had their turn and were probably waiting with annoying impatience for this to all be over. I looked down the whole ride around the area. There was silence.
Then as we slowly stopped, 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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