Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Tooth Fairy, Evil Gnomes, the Coach and the Cheerleader

Today is Halloween, a celebration with which I have a real love/hate relationship. I have never liked celebrating spooky, evil spirits, and I don’t like having kids ‘beg’ candy from strangers. I do, however, like the dressing in costumes, and especially enjoy the creativity as the costumes get better and better each year. (One of my favorites is watching the Today Show on Halloween morning – always great costumes!).

My kids always dressed in costume for Halloween when they were younger, but I wouldn’t allow evil or scary costumes. And, instead of trick or treating door to door, we would always go to the Harvest Festival held at church. But today I started wondering if I could choose a costume for some of the significant people in Ashley’s life, what would those costumes be?

Amy was easy – she would be the tooth fairy. The tooth fairy works on a reward system, something to which my kids have always responded, but the tooth fairy rewards are easy to earn. Kids don’t have to do anything special, but rather just do what they do best – grow up. The tooth fairy doesn’t favor one child over another – she is a magical creature that loves each child for who they uniquely are – no discrimination, just one snaggle-toothed child after another.

My 17 year old son, Chip, would dress as a coach. He has spent his life coaching his dear sister, Ashley. He was the one who taught her to burp like a boy, ‘moon’ people, eat Cheetos, and make zerberts on his tummy. He draws out the best in Ashley, and is by her side whenever she needs a hug or a kiss. He encourages her to do the things others would say she can’t do. He is her big brother and her life coach!

Alex, Ashley’s speech therapist, would be a cheerleader in a bright uniform waving her pom poms to celebrate Ashley’s every success. There is no reward better for Ashley than praise and acknowledgement of her unique abilities. Alex recognized that from the first moment she began working with Ashley, and as a result, their relationship is rooted in mutual love and respect.

I couldn’t think of any costume better for Ashley’s teacher, Mrs. Artis, than that of a teacher. Mrs. Artis is one of those gems that children find along the way of their educational paths, and Ashley is very blessed to have her this year. Mrs. Artis is open to trying new things, recognizes each child’s uniqueness and tailors her teaching to those unique qualities. She is kind and patient, encouraging and loving. She is the teacher that as adults we always remember and always wish we could go back and thank years later.

Jonathan, the attorney who has fought many battles to ensure Ashley’s rights are respected, would be costumed as a knight. In my mind’s eye, he is always riding fiercely into battle on his mighty steed, ready to do whatever he must to win the rights of the fair Ashley. He is strong and committed with a heart full of compassion. Justice is his code of chivalry, and knowledge is his weapon.

I’ll leave to your imagination the group of people who would costumed as evil gnomes though anyone with a child receiving special education services from their school district would probably not have to imagine long.

And as for me, I think I will dress up as a very tired but extremely happy mother!


Carl Anderson said...

Let's not forget Mom. Her costume must be an angel, Ashley's guardian angel. Where would Ashley be without your care and guidance.

Anonymous said...

This was the sweetest thing! You are such an amazing woman surrounded by so many amazing people. Thank you so much for the kind words. My goal was to be the best teacher these students ever had. With parents like you helping me along the way, I know I will reach that goal! Thank you so much!
-Carlye Artis