One of my kids is out of school for a while with surgery to both of his legs. He was so brave about it! He never showed fear about the pain or discomfort that surely lie ahead for him. His wonderful parents let him know that all of this would be for his eventual good. He is mature enough to understand. He was actually kind of looking forward to it.
“You know,” he confided in me a few days ago. “I might come back to school in a wheelchair.”
“Yes. I figured as much. That’s some pretty serious stuff you are going to go through.”
“Mmm hmm. But you know what about the wheelchair?”
“People will think I’m a superstar.”
“You’re probably right, my friend. Not many kids get the chance to wheel around the school in one of those.”
“You know, you all could write to me while I’m gone. If you want to.”
“Oh, we’ll want to all right,” I said, smiling.
“And you could call. Here, I’ll give you my mom’s cell phone number. You could put it on the speaker phone and all gather around so everyone could talk.”
“That’s just what we’ll do,” I said. And that’s just what we did.
I just love the fact that he didn’t think about the pain or the physical therapy, or even the fact that he’ll be so different from the rest of us when we have to wheel him around in a chair or that he’ll have casts on both of his legs for a while or that he may have to use a walker. He knows that the kids in his class love him.
The children in our class would do anything for him. And I think that is pretty much the way it is for the entire school. If anyone sees him having trouble with a door, or picking something up, or needing a book – it will be done. Without asking.
Here is a guy who accidentally hit a friend in the class last year playing dodge ball. He hit her hard. In the head. When she cried, he wrapped his arms around her and cried along with her, saying how sorry he was. She forgave him quickly.
Here is a guy who hugs me regularly and tells me how much I mean to him. And I tell him I love him right back.
And so on Monday, the day of his surgery, the class sat down with Miss Liz, our student teacher, and wrote letters to cheer him up, to tell him to feel better soon, to let him know that he is missed. The letters had colorful drawings with lots of stylized children playing O-Ball (our version of dodge ball), and peace signs, and rainbows, and sunglasses on suns. There were pictures of unicorns and fairies and books. And clouds, and butterflies, and silly faces with tongues sticking out.
Our class just started reading a biography together about Ann Frank. We are studying geometry and geology and writing our own biographies about famous South Carolinians. There is a lot going on. But he is on our minds all the time. His name seems to come up in nearly every conversation. So here are some bits of what they wrote in their letters and cards.
I dropped them off at the hospital on Monday afternoon. At the time he was still a little dopey from his medication, but he was happy that I came, happy to get the notes.
Kids say it so well.
I hope you feel better. That surgery must have hurt… We miss your laugh, your love for history, your funny jokes. Don’t worry. We’ll catch you up on Ann Frank… Tell me if you get lots of ice cream… I hope you feel better history freak! Just kidding. You’re not a history freak. You are a history wiz… I’ll miss playing O-Ball with you and I’ll miss your humor. This reminds me of when I gashed my leg… When you get back we’ll play stinky sock tag and we will be beasts in O-Ball… I’m sorry that you are missing the new literature study on Anne Frank. It is good. We will tell you what we have learned when we get back… Did you see the double rainbow after the storm?... I really want you to feel better because you are my best friend since kindergarten… I hope this won’t mess up our playdate… We will miss your happy face when you walk into the school. I will miss you so much. I love to learn from you… I bet you will be able to run faster now so you can run away from Mr. O. when he tries to get you in O-Ball… Oh, you will be the O-Ball star when you heal… I have a history joke for you. Q - Who was the sea creature in the Civil War? A- Robert Eel E… I miss your thirst for knowledge… You always add so much to our conversations… We are with you because we remember all the time you were with us when something was wrong…