Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I am the child

My friend Susan, mum to the gorgeous Molly, posted this poem on facebook last week, and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since.  Usually I find a lot of those types of poems a bit cheesy even if I can relate to them (eg Welcome to Holland), but not this one.

This one is different. This one describes Ashlea so perfectly.  When you read it, you could easily substitute the words "I am" for "Ashlea is".

Ashlea - my Ashlea - is that child.

The whole poem relates to Ashlea, but the part that stood out for me the most (as determined by the number of tears it elicited) is the verse that starts "I am the child who cannot walk".  At the moment Ashlea is getting really frustrated by her lack of mobility.  I think that is why she was so frustrated at the animal farm on the weekend.  It wasn't that she didn't want to be there, it was that she didn't want to be there in her wheelchair.  She wanted to be able to go where she wanted, when she wanted.  Independently.

She has even started saying the devestating little phrase:

I want to walk

I don't think she means she wants to walk like the other children, because I don't think it occurs to her yet that that could be possible.  I think she means she wants me to hold her hands and help her take a few steps, or she wants to use the walking frame.

But still, it is pretty hard to hear your wheelchair-bound child say 'I want to walk'.

I Am The Child

I am the child who cannot talk.
You often pity me, I see it in your eyes.
You wonder how much I am aware of -- I see that as well.
I am aware of much, whether you are happy or sad or fearful,
patient or impatient, full of love and desire,
or if you are just doing your duty by me.
I marvel at your frustration, knowing mine to be far greater,
for I cannot express myself or my needs as you do.

You cannot conceive my isolation, so complete it is at times.
I do not gift you with clever conversation, cute remarks to be laughed over and repeated.
I do not give you answers to your everyday questions,
responses over my well-being, sharing my needs,
or comments about the world about me.

I do not give you rewards as defined by the world's standards -- great strides in
development that you can credit yourself;
I do not give you understanding as you know it.
What I give you is so much more valuable -- I give you instead opportunities.
Opportunities to discover the depth of your character, not mine;
the depth of your love, your commitment, your patience, your abilities;
the opportunity to explore your spirit more deeply than you imagined possible.
I drive you further than you would ever go on your own, working harder,
seeking answers to your many questions with no answers.
I am the child who cannot talk.

I am the child who cannot walk.
The world seems to pass me by.
You see the longing in my eyes to get out of this chair, to run and play like other children.
There is much you take for granted.
I want the toys on the shelf, I need to go to the bathroom, oh I've dropped my fork again.
I am dependent on you in these ways.
My gift to you is to make you more aware of your great fortune,
your healthy back and legs, your ability to do for yourself.
Sometimes people appear not to notice me; I always notice them.
I feel not so much envy as desire, desire to stand upright,
to put one foot in front of the other, to be independent.
I give you awareness.
I am the child who cannot walk.

I am the child who is mentally impaired.
I don't learn easily, if you judge me by the world's measuring stick,
what I do know is infinite joy in simple things.
I am not burdened as you are with the strife's and conflicts of a more complicated life.
My gift to you is to grant you the freedom to enjoy things as a child,
to teach you how much your arms around me mean, to give you love.
I give you the gift of simplicity.
I am the child who is mentally impaired.

I am the disabled child.
I am your teacher. If you allow me,
I will teach you what is really important in life.
I will give you and teach you unconditional love.
I gift you with my innocent trust, my dependency upon you.
I teach you about how precious this life is and about not taking things for granted.
I teach you about forgetting your own needs and desires and dreams.
I teach you giving.
Most of all I teach you hope and faith.
I am the disabled child.

(Author Unknown)

Source: http://www.oafccd.com/lanark/poems/child1.htm


Sarah said...

Oh Alison, what a lovely, yet teary poem! I agree I find most of the poems normally cheesy too, not this one!

Thanks for sharing

Susan, Mum to Molly said...

Beautiful Alison. Glad it struck a chord for you.

Thank you for sharing it with a wider audience (prob should get me a blog one of these days...)

Also, should admit that I first saw it on Melanie's btn blog:

How heartbreaking for you to hear Ashlea saying she wants to walk (reminds me of the heartache of seeing Molly watch Wendy learn to walk...)

So pleased to see you guys made it to the beach. I note that the weather has been lovely, the only exception being last Friday!

Territory Mom said...

This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

Alison said...

Susan...you should definitely start a blog!!

Belinda said...

This is lovely Alison. xx.

Sarah said...

I agree Alison...Susan should definitely start blogging!

Anonymous said...

Hi, just wanted to let you know my wife Linda Hayes wrote this for my son, Daryl Hayes Jr. Thanks for sharing it.