Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Special Needs Child

This week has been very rough. It's been one of those weeks when I begin to wonder if teaching is what God really wants me to do. Am I in the right place? Am I doing a good job? I'm sure every teacher has those kind of weeks. My breakdown came on Tuesday. Pretty much a day like any other day, got up, went to school and began working with the children in my class. They are usually a pretty normal bunch of 5 year olds but that day I felt like I was drowning. It felt like they weren't listening. It seemed that they did nothing they were asked to do. It felt like I wasn't even speaking and that they had forgotten everything they had been taught over the past months. One child in particular was being particularly frustrating. We'll call her K. Now you have to understand that on K's best days she is a challenge to work with. K has a special needs brother and sometimes despite K's parents best efforts the special needs sibling demands most of their attention and she doesn't get much attention. So Tuesday was one of those days that K and I were really not on the same page. We were stuck in a power struggle... and she was winning. By the time I took my lunch break I was nearly in tears. Feeling pretty sorry for myself I have to say... doing the whole pity party thing.. complaining to co-workers the whole nine yards and then I went to the parking lot and talked to God.. I just laid it all out there... poured out all my feelings of helplessness and frustration and then I went and poured it all out to my director. Had myself a good cry on her shoulder and got some of the feelings out so that I could at least finish the day. Well K and I made it through the rest of the week in one piece and tonight as I was sitting here playing some silly game I had an epiphany or perhaps it was God speaking to me. This thought came into my mind... K is a special needs child too... she may not having a physical disability that you can see but deep in her heart she has special needs too. She needs your love... for you to love her like I love you... She needs your hugs... She needs your patience... She needs your mercy... She needs you to listen! Not exactly the answer I was looking for there God. You know I was thinking more along the lines of "You poor baby" "your having such a rough time" you know sympathy.. and what I got was the realization that I am special needs child... we are all God's special needs children... I may not throw myself down on the floor and cry and scream like K does or roll around on the floor instead of sitting in my chair like K does to get attention but I do other things that express my need for attention that probably looks like throwing a tantrum to God. But does He ever push me away when my behavior is inappropriate.. No He stands there with His arms open waiting for me to come back to Him... When I "kick, scream, cry and throw a fit" He is waiting there to gather me up in His arms... loving me and taking me back every time... His love is unconditional. He loves me no matter what.. Not just when I'm "sitting in the chair" and doing what He tells me to... He loves me even when I'm in the midst of a tantrum... even when I'm at my most unlovable... He loves me and pleads with me to come back to Him... May He give me that kind of love to show to K. I pray that the next time she throws a fit... instead of reacting with frustration, that I will act with love... that I will take the time to give her one more hug, a kind word, let her sit on my lap for that extra few minutes... I pray that I will love her daily the way the Lord loves me.. unconditionally and fully.
Do you have a "special needs" child? Are you a "special needs" child? Well take heart God loves His special needs children and wants us to love them too.


Ali said...

that was beautiful Kathy. I'm here with tears rolling down my cheeks. Thanks for that reminder... and yes I am and know special needs children that I don't react to with the kindness and love of Christ...
Can i share this with my ladies bible study class? thanks

Kathryn Ponder said...

Okay...short and sweet and to the point...It was very nice what you wrote. We are all special needs children in the Lords eyes. Thank you for recognizing that and showing it to us.

But I want to offer a suggestion. To duplicate God's love is what we strive for, so I have a way that has helped me in the past. Have your read the book, Love and Logic? It is a way to work with difficult children without raising your voice or stressing yourself out. It is a way of giving choices and consequences that you and the child can live with. I have seen it work wonders in my classroom...and the child and I go home respecting each other.

I, too, believe God gave you this epiphany and wanted you to share it with others. I think God gave me the Love and Logic to share with you.

Keep praying. Keep believing. Keep loving!