Monday, October 17, 2011

We're All Special

Ever since Sutton started kindergarten back in September, he has been coming home telling me about his friend, whom we will call "E." According to Sutt, E is awesome because he has a "little hand," with "these [indicating four] fingers stuck together", and "it's awesome" and SUTT "wants a little hand too because it's cool!"

Jump ahead to my first stint volunteering in Sutt's class.

I'm at the school. I'm sober. I'm wearing mascara and a shirt that doesn't show too much cleavage or have swear words on the front. I'm assisting children with their work and calling them "Sweetie" and "Honey" and "Darlin." I'm (begrudgingly) smiling. I'm SUPER-FUCKING-MOM (of course). And I'm also looking for this kid, E, to see what's up, as I'm sure he's just a regular kid with some weird webby fingers that make my kid jealous for the creepy side of life. But as I cut out construction paper apples and grade papers and help the minions take reading tests, I realize that there is no E and there is no weird hand.

What. The. Fuck?

I spend the next half hour wondering if Sutt has an imaginary friend. Does he have mental health issues? Did he inherit them from me? Should I get him a psychiatrist? Or a priest? Is this because one time when I was pregnant I had half a glass of wine and then cried for two hours because B wouldn't let me have more? Before long, I had myself pretty wound up. (Side note: It doesn't take much to wind me up. I get crazy and frantic at least 200 times a day, over random things like when the mail might come or if I accidentally packed Cheez-Its as Sutt's snack because I was talking on the phone when I packed snack but Sutt DOESN'T LIKE CHEEZ-ITS so DEAR JESUS what the HELL am I going to do if he's SNACKLESS?)

Until we went to lunch. I had promised Sutton that I would go to the cafeteria and sit with him while he ate lunch (because God knows I'm not eating that swill they serve in the cafeteria, and I'm not packing my lunch like I do for the kids because I LIKE LIQUID LUNCH. And, much like firearms and farm animals, vodka is not allowed in the cafeteria). We sat down and Sutt meandered into his Thermos of mac and cheese while I chatted up his classmates and counted down the minutes until I could get the HELL outta that sideshow, quit being so goddamn nice, and say "fuck" in a conversation without getting sent to the office. But as we were sitting there, Sutt started to shout, "Hey! There's my friend [E]! The guy with the cool hand! Hey, [E]! How are you today? This is my Mommy!" He was jumping up and down in his seat and pointing behind me, so I turned around. I wanted to see this kid E, and introduce myself as Sutt's Mom-- maybe instigate a playdate. And, for the first time, I saw E. E was not what I had expected. Not at all. E was in the Special Education class. E was severely physically and mentally handicapped. He had to have a special teacher JUST FOR HIM.

I realized then what I had been told early on but had forgotten-- my son was in the Inclusion Class for kindergarten, which meant that some of the kids in the class were more challenged than others, and that once a day for about an hour severely challenged kids were brought to the class also, if only to listen to a story or be around the "normal" kids. E was one of those kids, and frankly, his "little hand" with which Sutt was so enamored was likely the least of his problems. But Sutton hadn't even noticed that, he only knew that E was cool. Why? Because E liked to poke him "in the eyes to tell me where my eyes are!" and because his "little hand is like Nemo's!" Sutt realized that this kid wasn't broken, he was special. And that made me realize how special MY kid was. Sutt, my gifted, perfect, whip-smart little guy didn't notice E's weaknesses, he noticed his awesomeness. He wanted to BE LIKE E. And that made me think.

Yeah, a lot of us are fucked up. Some of us are way more fucked up than others (as I bow to my followers). But we're all people. We're intrinsically all the same (even if we live in a trailer with a meth lab and have been engaged to our cousin-- this is a shout out to my TN relatives). Sutt doesn't see the black and white, the odd, the different. He just sees a kid with a cool hand. He just sees another kid he would like to play with, and introduce to his Mommy. That makes me happy.

Maybe we should all be a little more like Sutt.

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