When I was introduced to him a year ago, I was a little scared and a little unsure of myself. I wasn’t trained to teach special children. Watching movies and reading books and blogs about how to gel in with special kids doesn’t really help. I asked him what his name was. He refused to answer. I was worried. How was I supposed to make this child take interest in studies when he doesn’t even know how to write his own name? Will he ever trust me? But then one year is a long time and it has proved that anything can happen in a year. Not only did he come out of his shell, he emerged a more beautiful, confident and happy child. The year with the special child taught me three important things which have made my life a lot more easier and happier.
- Not falling for bribes or threats: One day, as I was struggling to make him write an essay, and he plainly said a big ‘no’ to my face. In a desperate attempt, I told him that if he listened to me I would take him to the petting zoo and show him the baby rabbits. He calmly replied that he liked baby rabbits but didn’t like them enough to write an essay. I felt stupid. I told him that if he didn’t finish the essay he can’t go home. That he has to be at school till dinnertime. He didn’t fall for that either. He replied that he doesn’t mind. And it made me wonder. Do I have the same guts to boldly refuse to do something that is difficult for me?
- Noticing love, not the lack of it: As a last attempt, I asked him who he loves the most. The answer was, obviously, his mother. I told him how worried she was about him and how happy she would be if he can complete the essay and get a star for it. He considered this for a moment. “I don’t want to make my mother sad.” he said, as he picked up his pencil and began to write. I understood how strong and productive love can be when one doesn’t rant and whine about the hundreds who do not show love. Rather think and care about the few who do.
- Laughing at myself: He took half an hour to finish it and before he could hand it to me, another student grabbed it and began to laugh at the mistakes and the handwriting. I told him to stop it and give it to me. He handed the worksheet to me, but didn’t stop laughing. The other students joined in. Before I could say anything, I heard another laughter, louder than the rest of the class. It was the special child. He began to point out his own mistakes and laughed aloud. This silenced the rest of the class. He taught me a very important lesson again. That the world can laugh at us for only as long as we try to shut our ears and hide. When we acknowledge our own mistakes/drawbacks and laugh them off, the world has to shut the F*** up.
They are called special children for a reason. It is not just because they have abilities that others don’t but also because they have a way of making everything around them special too, including the miserably normal lives like mine they happen to touch.