Tuesday, June 14, 2016
The last few weeks of school have been a whirlwind, as they always are. Anna had a class trip, pool party, awards ceremony. For Ethan it was Field Day, a music event, trip to his new school for next year, and gathering in the cafeteria for second graders to draw pictures of their new school and reminisce about their current one while ingesting popsicles.
The kids are coming home with backpacks laden down with whatever old papers and notebooks were residing in their desks and lockers. In the past I might have saved the vast majority of it. By the time Anna was in kindergarten I already had a good-size bin filled with papers and art projects. Over the years (and maybe after too many episodes of Hoarders) I've realized that is not going to work. Is it possible to save, say, the five most important papers from the entire year for each kiddo? Eeeek, the sentimental in me is protesting, but I think it must be done.
One paper I'm definitely saving is the one above. It came off the wall in Ethan's classroom. At some point in the year all of the kids were asked to use traits to describe each one of their classmates. This is what they came up with. I have to say, they're pretty accurate.
I love assignments like this. Even as an adult, I love taking part in things like this, whether it's being on the receiving or giving end. Words are so important. They can scar us or they can build us up. The kind of words we choose to meditate on can revive us or suck the life out of us. The types of things we believe about ourselves can make us, or break us.
When I look at these traits used to describe Ethan I can't help but notice some of them could be viewed as a positive spin on what we are sometimes not as positive traits. "Fair" and "Sportsmanship" for Ethan also can equate to being a real stickler for rules and desperate to win and to keep playing until he does. "Hardworking" is just that...but sometimes it means being so intensely focused on something that he has trouble making himself stop unless he's accomplished whatever he was trying to do.
As I look over these words I'm also reminded to see the GOOD in people. That doesn't mean to see that all people are essentially good. We are, in fact, spectacularly flawed. I don't know how many times I can say this, as it relates to my Christian beliefs: we are ALL human. We are all imperfect. We all do wrong things and make wrong choices. Believing that we are in need of redemption starts with ME. Believing we are all in need of redemption means loving people and seeing them as people.
We are NOT labels. The words above don't say "Autistic" anywhere. Even the most profoundly affected person is not an autistic person but a person. We are children of God. And we are worthy of love. That is the label I want to wear, above all else. That's the one I hope Ethan will wear, too.