Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Change of Heart

A change of heart is a wonderful thing to behold.

I’m a Resource Specialist in Special Education at an elementary school. Once a year I schedule a set of transitions meetings with the junior high staff. Because Special Education exists due to federal law, we have a lot of paperwork, but the bottom line is that we help kids who need extra help. Transition meetings are about paperwork and levels of help, minutes of service, degree of need.

It’s not always easy being the parent of a student with special needs. It’s also not always easy coming to the realization that your child needs more help than you thought. Some parents fight that reality, and in their denial they can become unreasonable.

My least favorite thing is dealing with militantly unreasonable people. Reason is my friend, my ally, and my main tool for reaching the consensus with others. I need that consensus in order to do my job, and to obtain signatures on the necessary forms.

But it’s not the paperwork that matters: it’s the kids.

Today, at one of my meetings, a parent had a change of heart. She’s been resisting the reality that her child needs more help in school. She finally decided that her child's problems are not all about being lazy. The student has a learning disability. That’s a tough reality for a parent to face, especially as you look into your child’s future.

I had anticipated a difficult meeting. I anticipated unreasonableness, but once again I presented my professional, honest, and caring opinion about levels of help this student would need at the junior high. It was not less than what the student was currently getting: it was more. (Some of my colleagues winced as I made the offer of support that we thought was appropriate because we anticipated she would resist as she had in the past.)

Then I asked the mom, “What do you think?”

She said, “I agree.”

I threw her a kiss, and we went forward from there.

It was the highlight of my day.

Over the course of the last year, I regarded the feelings and fears of this mom. I gave her the gift of time. I continued to help her child despite her misgivings. Her child appreciated the needed help, and eventually the mom had a change of heart.

It was an unexpected miracle in my day, a personal highlight, and a relief.


  1. You are just such a nice guy Don!!!
    Please continue to share the special love you have with the people who need it the most as you do. Stories like this restore my faith in humanity.
    You have an amazing heart dude.........

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  2. Dennis: I've heard grace defined as undeserved favor. It reminds me of the story where a king forgave a man a large debt, but the forgiven man was harsh with someone who owed him a small debt. I don't want to be that man. I've received grace, and I want to pass it on.

    Reggie: Thanks. Reviewing my high school annual six months or so ago, I realized that a lot of people thought I was a really nice guy. It can be more than a nice thing to say. It can be a great compliment in a world where nice guys can be a bit scarce.

    Thanks for commenting!


  3. So many people suffer when parents refuse to recognize their child is different.

    Or that their child is a punk.

    (Obviously I'm nursing some war wounds)

  4. Saphron: I have to agree with you. It is difficult, I think, because it is unreasonable. So much evidence, so little persuasion. "Or that their child is a punk." Good one. (Thankfully, even in that area, some parents do acknowledge it, and even apologize.) It happens!