Thursday, April 12, 2007


You can repeat a memorized truth heard because you believe it in your head; when you know it in your heart you tell others with a conviction that transcends belief.

I have known for years that children with Down's Syndrome are wonderful, but it is a truth I repeated because I was sure it was correct. Today, my heart opened to a boy with Down's Syndrome, and I know for a fact that Down's Syndrome children are pure delights.

Our school has a boy with Down's Syndrome in its Special Education program. He is in the fifth grade, is very small for his age, and everyone has great difficulty understanding him because of his language development. His mother, a very protective parent, finally acquiesed to the idea that her son be "mainstreamed" into a regular education classroom, and she chose mine. I made what I hoped was a powerful speech to my students about his physical problems and asked them to embrace this boy with warm frienship, thoughtfulness, and enthusiasm.

Our whole class has quickly grown to love little Stevie. The first thing we noticed was that he made friends with all the girls in the classroom, and the boys were somewhat envious of his willingness to hug and associate with the girls. I remember jokingly telling the class that he may have some academic and language problems, but he seemed to be more advanced in the boy/girl area. They all agreed.

Today little Stevie was walking with us to the cafeteria for lunch, and he had his left hand cupped over his left ear. I spoke to him, but he didn't respond. I spoke to him again, but again he didn't say anything. Then I noticed he was talking to himself. One of the astute and observant girls he adores informed me, "Mr. R., Stevie is talking on his cell phone."

I realized that Stevie was pretending to be engrossed in an imaginative phone conversation with someone on his cell phone hand. He would listen for an appropriate amount of time, respond with his animated gibberish, and was totally engrossed in his pretend conversation. He even glanced at his imaginative wristwatch to check the time, like a businessman takin' care o' business. He would listen and reply, then listen and reply.

I suddenly felt a love for this little fellow, and I knew I would be willing to die for him. It was an unusual and very private thought, but worth opening up about and passing onto you.

He didn't hang up his phone or turn it off; his conversation just abruptly ended, and he grinned his joyful grin at me, and I said, "You have a great smile, Stevie!" I didn't understand his reply, but I can tell you this. I used to say, "Children with Down's Syndrome are wonderful people," I said that because I believed it to be true. Now I can tell you for a fact, they are. I know it in my heart.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I was in the local Walgreen's drug store on Good Friday, and I noticed they had an awful lot of chocolate Easter candy that hadn't been sold yet. That got me to thinking, and here is what I thought:

Click on this highlighted link to see what I have learned after one year of blogging:

Easter chocolate

Sunday, April 01, 2007



Once upon a time there was a very great and powerful kingdom called Amaliaka. The Amaliakans were a hard-working people who valued freedom, courage, and justice. They were ashamed to admit they had used military force in their history to grow in strength and power, and they had tried unsuccessfully to wean themselves from doing that.

There came into their kingdom a visionary, a man who could see into the future. Sure enough, for quite some time all the prophet's predictions came true. Upon his death, some foolhardy Amaliakans used their persuasive powers to convince the Kingdom of Amaliaka that they too had visionary skills. They convinced the Amailakans to shape and mold their society so as to take advantage of future events to ensure wealth and power for themselves and their children.

One of the largest factories in their kingdom was named "Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing, Inc." and specialized in making productive, efficient, dependable, and sensible tools for the the great Amaliakan society. One day the King of Amaliaka, King Gush, and his all-powerful enemy, Prince Teedy, decided that Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing was causing a lot of problems for the future of the Kingdom.

"We must do something to make sure that the tools of our future meet our future needs," decreed King Gush.

"I agree," piped up Prince Teedy. "We don't often agree, King Gush, but on this one, I'm with you all the way. Something must be done to make sure that Amalgajusted Anacomical KidFacturing improves their product to ensure a great future for all Amaliakans!"

The Amaliakans cheered, for they too were worried about some of the tools being produced by the factory. For years, all their tools were wonderful, and made them the strongest kingdom in all the land. Stories abounded about the dazzling displays of dependability and craftsmanship demonstrated by Amaliakan tools, but lately there seemed to be some serious problems with the tools. Reports of tool failures were running rampant through the kingdom. Many Amaliakans were complaining that the tools didn't work and didn't seem to be up to the quality of tools that had been made by the same factory in the past.

Terrible rumors began to eat at the heart of the Amaliakan spirit, rumors that another small country on the other side of Lake Ubettaworrie called CopyCatville had perfected making tools superior to the Amaliakans. The CopyCatters were scaring the living daylights out of the Amaliakans, so the Amaliaknas were relieved to hear that their King and his enemies had banded together to force the factory to make better tools.

"Wait a minute!' insisted the Council that ran the factory. "We've been been doing a great job up until now, and we don't think we need to change a thing. We're doing our best and just leave us alone. We know more about making tools than you do."

"Naw, you don't know what you're doing," replied King Gush and Prince Teedy. "You're making tools the same old way you always have been making them, and we can see the future. The tools have to be better and better and better and better!"

"Well that's hogwash," said the factory Council. "In our defense, we'd like to say that the biggest problem our factory faces is the lousy supply of raw materials provided to us by the lackluster, lazy-ass Amaliakan society. We're doing the best we can with the materials we got!"

That didn't sit too well with the Amaliakans, so King Gush and Prince Teedy riled up the Amaliakans even more and convinced them that the Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing plant was not looking to the future. "Something must be done before it's too late! The CopyCatters are making tools much better than ours! Our great kingdom will be outperformed, overtaken, and overthrown by these other countries. Change is essential! I have a plan, and my plan is called Make Each Tool Better!"

The Amaliakans cheered and new laws, plans, and instructions were given to the Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing plant that made them make better tools.

That didn't sit too well with the Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing plant. "You're just keeping us busy going silly work that is meant to merely prove that we are doing our jobs! This isn't helping at all. This is horrible! Get rid of that stupid law called Make Each Tool Better!"

The Amaliakans were growing concerned because there didn't seem to be any improvement in the quality of the tools, and some of the factory workers at the Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing plant were telling everyone that the new laws were making things worse!

"What do we do?" they all cried. "Our tools are still not working! They break down! They aren't going to be worth a plugged nickel in twenty years or so!!"

"Oh shut up," said King Gush and Prince Teedy. "We are going to make our new law even better. We are going to tweak it and call it, "Make Each Tool Even Betterer Than Better!"

The Amaliakans cheered and voted for more laws to improve their tools, and eventually, King Gush and Prince Teedy passed a law that made it against the law to make a tool that wasn't a better tool than any tool that had ever been made.

"Out tools will be the finest tools that money can buy. Let some whippersnappers from across the lake try to compete with one of our Amalgajusted Anacomical Kidfacturing tools!"

Arguing in the Kingdom of Amaliakan began. It seemed that some of the rumors about the CopyCatters tools weren't true.

"I used a CopyCatter tool the other day and it broke down, too!" said one of the lowlier princes of the kingdom.

"That was just that once!" snapped King Gush. "I am convinced that our tools are worse than everybody else's. We must make them better!"

"Wait a minute," said some other citizens. "Are you tryin' to tell us that our tools aren't as good? We think they work just fine. Take care of them, don't leave them out in the yard, oil 'em and shine 'em up every now and then, and our tools are just as good as the CopyCatters! Take care of them, expect the most out of them, and they'll do great!"

The people cheered and quit listening to King Gush whenever he and Prince Teedy tried to get them all worked up over the future. Never once did King Gush or Prince Teedy ever admit that their tools were adequate. Instead, they kept tring to get the citizens of Amaliaka all steamed up over the tool situation, never knowing that the real problem facing the future of the Kingdom of Amaliaka was Bull Mascot and his reign of destruction on the Amaliakan currency.