"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Things at work are not fun right now. The kids are just getting over the sugar chaos of Halloween - in time to start getting geared up for the Santa chaos of Christmas. Report cards need to be done before the Thanksgiving break. Conferences are the week after Thanksgiving. One of my teammates  is creating dramas right and left. I go to work in the dark. I come home in the dark. In between feels like its own special kind of darkness.

The year that wasn't supposed to be is getting harder and harder to appreciate.

Except that I have Lars in my life.

We have a kindergarten buddy class. A couple of times a month we get together and my little third graders become big guy teachers for the even littler kindergartners. The kids are matched in buddy pairs, and for the hour they're together, the kindergarten teacher and I sit back and marvel at the joyous, busy, nurturing noise that fills the room.

Whenever my class passes the buddies in the hall, the kindergartners become wild fans and my babies the celebrity recipients of their hero worship. I of course get to be the head celebrity and there is little to compare to the unsolicited adoration of twenty-some five year olds.

Lars is one of our buddies. He has the sweetest corn silk hair. He has the brightest and readiest of  smiles. He has Down Syndrome.

It takes me a while to learn the buddies' names. Those little guys do in fact all look alike from the top down. But Lars I learned early, because his third grade buddy wanted a new buddy right away - something that rarely happens. 

He was frustrated because Lars, who has a full time assistant, wouldn't do what my student asked. Lars is cheerfully unbound by the restrictions of guilt or fear of consequences. Once I explained to the third grader that Lars learned differently, and that it was okay to not complete the day's tasks, they've been inseparable. In fact, in a twist of irony this is not uncommon with these buddies, the two boys look like they could be brothers.

Every time I come into a room Lars' face turns to me like a flower to the sun. And breaks into a smile like the sun through clouds. I can walk into our crowded and riotously noisy cafeteria, and somehow his smile finds me. Now, of course I look for it. And I'm never disappointed. I make a point to walk up and say hi, and his whole body smiles. Much the same way Toby smiles when we come home at the end of the day. It's pure, and clean and sweet.

I'm not sure why he seems drawn to me. I don't think it matters. I wish there was a way to let this little creature of undiluted light and love know how much he means to me. How much my dreary days are brightened by his powerfully gentle smile.

As I continue to search for the gifts and lessons this year has to offer, I'm beginning to think that Lars might just be enough of a gift all by himself. I'm in love in the light of his presence.

photo from Flickr


kario said...

Love the concept of the buddies.
Love that the teachers get to witness it.
Love that Lars is in your life right now.

Love you.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

You're not sure why Lars is drawn to you? Let me count the ways. Of course you know you're hitting me where I live. These kids are living/breathing/walking amongst us angels. The sooner we embrace their inherent wisdom, the better.

There is knowledge and then there is wisdom. They are not confused. We are.

M said...

I loved this story...I guess because it hit pretty close to home in the sense of where I used to work. I have to admit I started to tear up when you first described Lars and how his buddy wanted someone else. The truth is...all of us are a Lars to someone until they get to know us. I'm glad that God brought Lars into your life and that you recognize what a gift he is. And I'm doubly glad that God brought you into Lars' life so that he would have a teacher who is wise enough to see the value creating opportunities for relationships to develop and blossom between kids who are different...and those that are alike. I know you want to get out of the classroom...but God may want you to stick around and do His work there for a while longer.


Amber said...

What a sweet post. It made me smile, to read of Lars...

...I was reading recently about how the rate of children with Downs is going down so much. Few of these children get to be born, with the early tests they have now... And although I would never want a child to have such "difficulty", I wonder what the rest of us are going to miss out on. What kind of wisdom, as Carrie says, and what kind of PURE love...


Nancy said...

I often think these children are the gifted as they know only love, pure and genuine. No accident that he crossed your path.

She said...

What joy you describe! I'm glad you have Lars. I'm glad Lars has you!

Ditto on what Carrie says!

Jerri said...

Lars is drawn to your purity of spirit as you are drawn to his.

Blessings for this year.

FrecklesandDeb said...

Sometimes we don't recognize the gifts that come to us in life. Looks like you've identified this one!