Have you ever been a mamma bear and you watch someone bully your child or treat them differently because they are not the same as other children? I can understand that a child, may not understand, but adults do and need to set an example for their kids. Children learn what they see, hear, and are told. One of the first things that children are taught in the Bible is always ” I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14. They are also taught that Jesus loves the little children. So wouldn’t that mean that if a child has intellectual disabilities that they too are loved by Jesus? Are they not capable of being loved by others even if they are different?
I was moved today to write about an incident that to some may seem like an innocent gesture but to a mom who is tired from working 16 hour days as a nurse some weeks 7 days per week with a special needs child that has been distance learning for almost three months, and is now in virtual summer school, with lots of energy to give, it is hurtful. I sit writing with tears in my eyes not because my feelings were hurt, but because my little boy noticed that he was made to feel different and really can’t comprehend why.
My son was born 13 weeks early, he is a miracle. He was given a 5% chance of survival, he is immune-compromised due to his little lungs, he has 1 kidney, and is underweight. But guess what? He has a heart full of love for all that he meets, he loves people, and is the sweetest little boy. He does not know the color of skin, race, or disabilities, he only knows love. Why, because my husband and I instill the values in him to love everyone. But today on a zoom call made for kids, he was cut out of a video zoom class that was made for kids. We had him on silent because we know he can sometimes be chatty but he was making funny faces while he sat and looked at himself in the little video box honestly may have been a little bored because he is on these zoom calls daily for distance learning. But as a mom we always want our kids to get nurtured in groups that we think will make a difference in their lives.
All of Kaleb’s school teachers embrace him and know he is a handful but they love him just the same and find coping skills to help him. His hyperactivity is not something that can always be controlled, but trust me this little boy tries hard. If you told me ten years ago that we would be enduring this and would I want to terminate the pregnancy because we spent 162 days in the neonatal intensive care unit, with a little boy that is special needs, and only has 1 kidney, and may require help with making decisions later in life, I would say no. I would do it all over again. God placed this little boy in our lives for a reason. Through the test that we endured, we created The Gift of Life, an organization that supports parents of premature babies while they are in the neonatal intensive care unit. Through our hurt, we knew that we could take a mess and create a message that would reach many to help them find comfort in knowing that they are loved and supported no matter what race, religion, socioeconomic status, or nationality they are.
God never gives us more than we can handle and He knows who can tolerate a test. He really must think we can handle it because in these last three months, my test of trials has been huge. My husband and I vowed that we would do the best for our son and never let him down. We have my mom who lost her eyesight due to diabetes and a retinal detachment shortly after my dad passed away unexpectedly so therefore she stays with us. We have two puppies that keep us busy but fulfill our lives too. We wonder why all of this with COVID-19 surfaced and now with the Floyd murder and the violence that some groups are creating. With all of this, it is enough to send someone over the edge and totally give everything up, But I have had some strong women in my life.
Anitra Manning that is on our board tells me that I matter and what I am doing in the community matters so I need to hang in there, She loves our Kaleb so much, he is her “little buddy. “
Elisa Planellas our executive director who moved to Florida 1.5 years ago to help run the charity. She was running the charity for four years from a distance and then said she needed to move close to help us more. She takes care of our websites and gives freely of her time and never asks for a dime, on the contrary, she gives of her time and money to the charity through the services she purchases to run our digital website. She is another person that loves our Kaleb and keeps him entertained with her witty questions that make him think.
Ms. Melanie Johnson, Kaleb’s kindergarten teacher who always checks on Kaleb and me and sends me encouraging messages and support to hang in there. She was the first teacher to assure me that Kaleb will learn everything in his own time. She was so right!
Mrs. Nicole Pagan, Kaleb’s 2nd-grade teacher, this woman is a saint, there is so much that she has done throughout the years to go above and beyond the call of a teacher duty to help my family. She loves our Kaleb so much and looks out for his best interest always. She always includes me in her kiddos storytimes even after Kaleb has moved on beyond 2nd grade.
Alexia Rivera, God bless this girl, she has the patience of an angel with Kaleb. She supports me in every way that she can with her positive words and encouraging thoughts. She is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She has the gift of comfort and support. She loves our Kaleb as if he were her family.
Ms. Rosa, one of Kaleb’s teacher’s aides at school, you have to meet her. She loves our little miracle like her own. I never have to worry when he is in her care because she has just loved on him and me.
Ms. Kelly, this woman has been all that Kaleb talks about when it comes to his inflatables. She helps his creativity and looks for ways to bring his little heart joy. She is one of the aides in school that always has a watchful eye for our Kaleb.
I apologize for the long post, but I really wanted to point out that there are people that will love my son for who he is and not treat him differently because he is different. You just have to get to know him because he will melt your heart. Like my other favorite person in the world, Mrs. June Ings calls him, the little senator. He got this name when she attended our first charity gala and watched our little Kaleb, then 5 yrs old, greet people with a handshake like his dad in his little tuxedo and tell people that he was Kaleb with The Gift of Life. Mrs. June has always been there for me especially when I myself have experienced racism and bullying.
So today I leave you with these short verses:
John 7:24 “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
Acts 10:34-35 “So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
Romans 2:11 For God shows no partiality.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
So you see to the person that excluded a little boy today from a zoom call because he was making funny faces in an environment that was supposed to be fun for kids, I say, think about what Jesus would have done at that moment. Kids are not perfect by any means, but special needs kids are definitely not perfect either, but they have something that many wish they had, unbiased love for other people.