One night when my son was playing Jr. High basketball, I took my yarn and knitting needles so I could knit between games. I was in the stands, concentrating on the project in my lap when a little boy from my class came to sit beside me. He is a beautiful 10-year-old with fabulous charm and wit. His translucent blue eyes watched me carefully. "Hey, can you teach me how to do that?"
I looked at him, this enthusiastic ball of energy and smiled. Because there is a story behind this little guy.
He was born with hydrocephalus and has had many surgeries to place and work on a shunt which drains the fluid from his brain. Due to these circumstances and having missed so much school, he is in our class for learning disabled students. When I came here four years ago, I immediately fell in love with his charisma and perpetual grin; a ornery, happy-go-lucky child who is never afraid to tackle a project and put himself completely in the moment.
"Of course I can," I said. "I'll tell you what. Tomorrow I'll bring some larger needles and some yarn to the game and we can learn right here."
A heart-stopping smile. "Okay!" he said. We had a date.
The next night, true to form, there he was. His eyes found me in the crowd immediately as he worked his way up the bleachers and plopped down beside me. "I'm ready to learn!"
Teaching an exuberant little boy how to knit is difficult enough...but I had forgotten he was left-handed. He watched as I cast on a few stitches and began the knit stitch, then became impatient to try himself. He is definitely a participant in life and doesn't have a moment to waste on watching it pass him by. Needles flashed awkwardly and stitches were dropped. I watched as a usually patient little boy grew in frustration, beginning again and again as he breathed, "This is really hard!"
Then suddenly...he had it. The light came on, enthusiasm peaked....and he was off. He excitedly took his new found skill to share with others and I watched as he used his own technique to make the yarn grow and expand into something of his own making. He asked for help a few times and I would get him back on track, but I was amazed at how he proceeded with confidence and determination.
"I can't" are not words in his vocabulary. He is open to learning new things and is always ready with willingness and an undaunted spirit. A little boy who learns differently than most in this world teaches me often the power and loveliness of "I think I can!"
(August 2, 2005)