Love uses markers and crayons

It would not be an exaggeration to say that Monkey is not exactly the most popular kid in his class. He has his BFF, and a couple of other kids he likes, and then on a good day, he tolerates everyone else. (On a medium day, he doesn’t acknowledge anyone else’s existence, and on a bad day, he gets himself punched in the face.)

Monkey’s teachers, however, tend to adore him. We’ve been inundated with emails and phone calls throughout all of this, and both his parapro and his homeroom teacher have already paid him post-surgical visits. (This is why I bake cookies, y’all. Because I can’t afford to buy then all the pink, sparkly ponies they deserve.)

Perhaps you can imagine my surprise when his teacher showed up with a stack of homemade “get well” cards the class had made for Monkey. It was sweet of her to think to have the kids do it, but I was completely blown away by the cards themselves. “They’ve all been very concerned about him,” she said to me. Which was when I realized I had seriously underestimated the empathy of the average 5th grader.

Monkey started with the card Lemur had made for him, of course, which featured a large Pokemon character on the cover and inside was peppered with wisdom that makes sense only to the two of them. (“Brains. Who needs ‘em? I has a burrito!” and “AMEOBA!!!” featured prominently.)

But there was also the “Get Well SOON!” card from “the middle table”—whether that’s a lunch table or a classroom table or just a club I don’t quite get, I’m not sure—signed in careful handwriting and bright colors by a bunch of girls.

There was the card that opened up to reveal a Monkey-themed Jumble, which he unscrambled to spell Monkey, math, bugs, and other words he likes, which was then followed by:

Dear Monkey,
Get well soon!
I can’t wait till you come back! We are studying atoms in science. I think that is something you would enjoy! Sorry about the tonsils and adenoids.
(signed)
Really Sweet Girl Monkey Never Even Mentions

There were several “I hope it didn’t hurt that bad” cards, including the giggle-inducing “Too bad, your non-tonsil and adenoid mouth hurts so much” one. There was the encouraging “You will be ok when your DONE” one.

There was the rainbow-adorned:

MONKEY! MONKEY!
Come on!
U can do It!
MONKEY!
Monkey,
I hope you feel better real soon so you can come back!!
Love,
Another Really Sweet Girl

There was a ninja comic strip drawn for him by another buddy, depicting a bloody battle in which our hero was finally the victor, declaring “Rock and Roll!” and then, of course, “Get well Monkey!”

There were bug charts and homemade sudokus—all the more touching to me because these kids clearly know what Monkey loves, even though he often knows little or nothing about them.

There was the newsy letter:

Dear Monkey, I hope you fell better, you missed the spelling bee I bet you would have won. [Kid] and [Other Kid] won, well [Kid] was the winner, [Other Kid] was runner up. In our class [Third Kid] was the last person to get out.
Sincerly,
Yet Another Very Nice Girl I’ve Never Heard Of

And—quite possibly my favorite—there was the card with a giant GET WELL SOON MONKEY BUGS on the front, and this missive in beautiful cursive:

Monkey, I hope you have fun recover from your tonsils. I really know that Lemur misses you and without you he is very lonely.
Sincerely,
Perfectly Lovely-Seeming Girl Who Monkey Assures Me Once Pushed Him On The Playground, Not That He’s Holding A Grudge Or Anything

As Otto is good enough to keep reminding me, despite the various challenges and hurdles of this particular school district, there is way more right happening here than wrong.

Happy Love Thursday, everyone.

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63 Responses to “Love uses markers and crayons”

  1. 1
    Fabs January 27, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    How sweet! Kids always amaze me.

  2. 2
    Jess January 27, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    That really is so sweet. Good for the teacher for having the kids do that, and good for the kids for doing such a great job!

    Hope Monkey’s non-tonsil-and-adenoid-mouth feels better soon. ;)

  3. 3
    Jamie January 27, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

    Awwww!!!

  4. 4
    Karen January 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    I’m curious (and maybe you’ve said this before and I’m just not remembering…) – do the teachers or other professionals at your school try to explain to Monkey’s classmates the realities of autism/aspergers to help them understand why things are so hard for him sometimes and why he responds the way he does to situations? I would think that would be helpful in providing them wtih empathy but I know they’re still young and may not understand (and there may be things you don’t wish to share with some many others).

  5. 5
    Chuck January 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Awesome.

  6. 6
    Kathy January 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    That is so wonderful.

    I hope Monkey is feeling better soon.

  7. 7
    Asha {Parent Hacks} January 27, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    WOW. My son would DIE (of happiness) to get a pile of cards like that. So wonderful. For kids who have a hard time with mind-reading and unspoken assumptions, getting a tangible handful of evidence that says “we like you!” (even if some is only just polite) means everything. He won’t forget this.

  8. 8
    Katherine January 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm #

    So nice! of the teacher and the kids. I hope it makes Monkey’s day. How long is he going to be on homebound for?

  9. 9
    Mamadragon January 27, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    This is so sweet! I often run into this situation with my Aspie-girl. A parent will assure me that their child (whom I have heard my daughter mention maybe once and not necessarily in a positive context) thinks my daughter is a very good friend and their child cares deeply about mine.

    Aspies. I love mine to bits but I have learned not to take her word about anything in the social realm. Sigh.

  10. 10
    Jen January 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    With all the stories you hear these days of kids being bullied and just general meanness, this? This made me cry with happiness. It made me feel hopeful.

    Thanks, Mir and hope Monkey is feeling better!

  11. 11
    ClumberKim January 27, 2011 at 1:03 pm #

    Just when I start thinking most kids are kind of awful (really — the mean girl crap should not start at age 3, dammit), I read something like this. Thanks for sharing!

  12. 12
    Megan January 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Fantastic. Makes me think of the “goodbye, we’ll miss you” book my class made for me when we had to move back to the USA from England – every kid did a page. I’ve dragged that thing through three countries and five states and if I can’t be sensible and put it in storage it’s going to follow me to another country in a few months. I hope Monkey finds his cards just as inspirational!

  13. 13
    joaaanna January 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    That is so incredibly sweet. Many moons ago when my stepson (also Asperger’s) was about Monkey’s age, he was made to leave his elementary school due to his behavior problems and the school was unable to provide him the help he needed. His entire class wrote notes all over a shirt with the school’s logo on it. There was everything to ‘Good Luck’ to ‘I’ll Miss You!’ to ‘I’m sorry I wasn’t nicer to you.’ These were from kids that he had verbally and physically abused, pestered non-stop and made many of them very unhappy and afraid. He was SO proud of that shirt and I think still has it at age 21. It absolutely broke my heart. It just goes to show you that kids are awesome. We should all have such forgiving and kind hearts. I’m so happy that your Monkey has amazing people in his life.

  14. 14
    TC January 27, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

    You know, N’s teacher was telling us something the other day during a meeting, about just how AWARE so many of the kids are of N’s particular quirks, and how they work around them. As an example, she told us that N has been doing much better lately on the Accelerated Reader tests the kids all take; the teacher announces when someone hits a point-based milestone, and the class always applauds. “Except everyone knows N hates being applauded,” the teacher said. “So when I mention N’s name, they all stay quiet, but the girls tend to put their hands up in the air and make kind of ‘twinkly finger’ movements.”

    That just about did me in. You assume that there’s just no way these kids could have any tolerance left for your child, and then you see something that tells you that–at least now and again, at least to the best of their own abilities–they can be sweet and supportive and just AWESOME.

    Way to go, Monkey’s class.

  15. 15
    Karen January 27, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    So nice to hear about acts of kindness – good to know they are keeping Monkey in the loop too -

  16. 16
    Lucinda January 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    It is amazing to me how kids rally around each other when it’s really needed. My kids are gluten-intolerant and their classmates are always speaking up for them and making sure that the adults handing out food are aware of the needs of my children. They make a bigger deal out of it than my kids do. These classmates continually astound me.

    I am so glad that Monkey is getting to experience that same empathy at a time when you all need it so much. Hooray for the honesty and beauty of children.

  17. 17
    Jen January 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm #

    Oh Mir, I’m all teary now. This was so good to read, and I can only imagine how good it made you feel. :)

  18. 18
    Headless Mom January 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm #

    Those cards are awesomeness squared. Yes, there is good there, even if you don’t see it too often.

  19. 19
    Lylah January 27, 2011 at 1:51 pm #

    That made me choke up. Kids can be so amazing and wonderful. I’m so glad it turned out that they’re rallying around Monkey, and that more right than wrong is happening at school.

  20. 20
    Beth R January 27, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

    Darn allergies – my eyes are watering and my nose is running. Must be allergies.

    That is one of the sweetest things I’ve heard in a long time – and it must make everyone feel a little better :)

  21. 21
    liz January 27, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    Pardon me for blubbing.

  22. 22
    Billie January 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

    That is so sweet! I love how kids do things like that.

    Last year I helped out at my son’s school for their Field Day (2nd to last day of school which also happened to be my birthday). My son’s class all signed a handmade card wishing me a happy birthday. It’s definitely something I will keep.

  23. 23
    Katie in MA January 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I am heartglad for Monkey and doubly-glad for you. Finally there is the rainbow and all that jazz. I’m glad it came in so many pretty colors and with lots of laughs.

    Happy Love Thursday!

  24. 24
    Jodie January 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Yay for lovely 5th graders who reestablish our belief in humanity. There grace goes, popping up where you least expect it :)

  25. 25
    KGP January 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    How sweet! My mom saved the cards that my third grade class made me when I had an ear operation and recently gave them all to me. The messages are adorable!

  26. 26
    elz January 27, 2011 at 2:40 pm #

    That is so incredibly sweet. I know he may not fully appreciate what these kids did for him, but you do. My faith in 5th graders has been restored.

  27. 27
    ramblin red January 27, 2011 at 3:08 pm #

    beauty comes in the most unexpected things, eh?

  28. 28
    Kristine N January 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    I am teary eyed reading this, very SWEET!!!! Yea for Monkey

  29. 29
    Lynne January 27, 2011 at 4:13 pm #

    Ya’ know, sometimes folks just surprise you with kindness. Glad that is the case for Monkey.

  30. 30
    Deirdre January 27, 2011 at 4:15 pm #

    That. Is. Awesome! Yay for nice 5th graders! (Can I say they’re pretty? Even the boys?) I have also noticed when I am feeling like none of the kids at my daughter’s school will ever be nice again (I am not really liking middle school), she’ll come home and tell me So-and-so brought in a birthday treat and made their mom promise to find something that my daughter with food allergies can eat. Which I know is a major pain for other kid’s mom, and really sweet that she did it anyway. Faith in future generation restored.

  31. 31
    Debbi January 27, 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    That is just beautiful. You have a wonderful teacher for your Monkey and a wonderful classroom. :-)

  32. 32
    Leslie January 27, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    As a Mom of a preschooler starting kindergarten in the fall, I have been terrified of the perpetual messages I hear referencing the cruelty of other kids. I have already been trying to steel myself for the first time my son comes home to tell me someone was mean to him, so I can resist the urge to hunt them down and punch them in the face in an extremely inappropriate and unproductive gesture of my love for my child. Hearing about this amazing outpouring of kindness to your son is a wonderful example that truly kids aren’t all bad, kindess exists and does periodically show itself and if nothing else I’ll just have my son go through surgery to get some peer love. (joking…mostly.)

  33. 33
    My Kids Mom January 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    Awww. Please keep those. Someday when he complains that “nobody loves me and everybody hates me – I think I’ll go eat worms” you can pull them out as proof that indeed, they do love him.

  34. 34
    Amy January 27, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

    *sniff*

    5th graders are awesome. :)

  35. 35
    Tracy B January 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm #

    Just when I thought all kids were cruel. Hope Monkey’s doing better!

  36. 36
    Alice January 27, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Oh!! That is just too damn sweet. Those are some really good teachers, and really good classmates he has. I’m so glad that he was able to experience this side of things.

  37. 37
    Beachgal January 27, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    awwww….how awesome.

  38. 38
    Varda (SquashedMom) January 27, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    Tat is just so wonderful. If Jacob were ever to leave a specialized school and intergrate into a regular classroom (unlikely, but you never know) I would hope it would be one just as caring and understanding as this. You must have felt warm and glowy all day after that.

    Hope Monkey continues to heal well and feel better every day.

  39. 39
    Susan January 27, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    That’s a thousand kinds of awesome! Keep feeling better, Monkey!

  40. 40
    Melanie January 27, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    What great teachers and kiddos! :) Get Well, Monkey!

  41. 41
    Kathy January 27, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Mad Props to that teacher! She is a hero in my book! She has created a FAMILY environment in her class … one where even though not everyone gets along all of the time, there is always love and respect for all the others! This is so wonderful! Good for Monkey to have such a wonderful teacher! Keep up the baking, Mir … it’s working!

    xoxo,
    kathy

  42. 42
    Julie January 27, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    Little kids are amazing, aren’t they?

  43. 43
    Heather January 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Awwww how utterly adorable!

  44. 44
    Leslie January 27, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    That’s awesome! How great for Monkey! (and you, Mom!)

  45. 45
    JC January 28, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    What a wonderful Love Thursday!

  46. 46
    Brigitte January 28, 2011 at 4:59 am #

    Those sound like keepers for the secret memories shoebox!

  47. 47
    Debra January 28, 2011 at 6:44 am #

    Wow that teacher totally deserves her own sparkly pony and maybe even a glittery unicorn as a bonus!

  48. 48
    Andrea January 28, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    **Sniff-sniff**
    I can’t help but think this not only brought happiness to Monkey but will also help bring additional tolerance from the other kids to each other knowing now that things are not always as they seem with their classmates. I imagine a number of them will carry this with them for some time too.

    I hope your Monkey is feeling better.

  49. 49
    getsheila January 28, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Reading that gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling. I just loved it! So happy to hear they’re all such caring and funny kids. Healing thoughts to Monkey for a speedy recovery from that pesky surgery thing. (I got addicted to Taco Bell Pinto’s ‘n Cheese after mine. Just a helpful, completely unsolicited suggestion in case, you know, he suddenly gets finicky.)

  50. 50
    12tequilas January 28, 2011 at 10:43 am #

    This is bringing back memories of my own tonsil/adenoid adventure in second grade (which converted me from strep strep strep to NEVER again in my entire life and I am 41 now). Not long after I got home from the hospital a stack of construction paper cards arrived. I don’t know if a teacher delivered them or sent them home with my sister, but I thought it was amazing that every single person in my class (including the 2 really mean boys) had made me a card. I saved them for some time and I remember that the girls tended to do things like draw cute ghosts or snowmen or cats or little people and attach word balloons that read “Oh no! Rebecca is away!”

    Then, years later I had major surgery and my the people in mother’s office all signed a get well card for me with their thoughts and prayers. Loved it! I think this stuff really helps. And now that I said that I have to resolve to send more get-well cards to people….

    Feel better, Monkey, and Happy Popsicles!

  51. 51
    Hally January 28, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Monkey’s Teacher – YOU’RE PRETTY…and you’re doing a pretty awesome job! Not only have you encouraged the class to be empathetic. You’re culturing kids who recognize in their friends what is the same – the need to be seen, heard, and friended.

    Monkey – Hang in there…some days will be tougher than others. On those days, hug Licorice!

    Otto – I love your point of view! And thank you for seeing that teachers can be handcuffed by the system, but they ARE trying. :)

    Chickadee – I really want you to go to Science Camp! It was ridiculously fun for me, and I so want it to be for you too!

    Mir – Look….look at all the love that surrounds you and the family! It’s everywhere. Even in crayola cards. With days like that who wants to pick up after a pink sparkly pony?!?!

  52. 52
    Aimee January 28, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    How awesome is THAT?!

  53. 53
    Anna Marie January 28, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I’ve been out of town for a week and just caught up on everything. And after reading 8 posts about surgery and pain and angst and love and family, this one made me burst into tears. I’m so very happy that Monkey is healing nicely, and I wouldn’t give up that Lortab anytime soon!

  54. 54
    Rocky Mountain Woman January 28, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    That’s just so sweet! I’ll bet Monkey remembers this for a long time. Maybe the bad days will get a little less bad because he feels more a part of things.. I empathize with Monkey because I have a grandson with a lot of the same types of things going on in his life (including the getting punched in the face). It’s hard….

  55. 55
    Jenny January 28, 2011 at 2:50 pm #

    This is the coolest thing ever. Hope his recovery continues apace.

  56. 56
    Annie January 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm #

    Aw…this really pulled at my heart. My son was recently hospitalized for two weeks with a terrible illness. He is in kindergarten. Several different classrooms at his school sent large envelopes with get well cards that they had made. It moved me to tears. So I know how much this had to mean to Monkey! Love really does use markers and crayons. Hope he is continuing to recover well! All of those awesome cards have surely helped speed up the process a bit.

  57. 57
    Liza January 29, 2011 at 7:13 am #

    *sniffle* What a nice bunch of kids. It so touching to see how many of them really know him (and Lemur) and care about him.

  58. 58
    Liza January 29, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Did you ever track down Monkey’s pjs?

  59. 59
    addy January 29, 2011 at 7:29 am #

    The capacity for forgiveness and understanding in children never ceases to amaze me. Thanks for sharing Mir.

  60. 60
    angie January 29, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    When my son was about Monkey’s age, he was moved to a new classroom mid-year, and it happened to be the week of his birthday. The kids all hand made him cards, many of them scroll-style, where they write the name vertically and then use each letter as an adjective. My favorite read:

    A=arithmetically inclined
    A=athletic
    R=really funny
    O=odorless
    N=nice

    Having spent some time in that room with those boys, odorless was high praise, indeed.

    We saved all those cards — what fun to go back and read them!

  61. 61
    jodifur January 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Oh my. How absolutely lovely.

  62. 62
    mamaspeak January 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    I was gonna suggest that maybe you could get some plastic sleeves (that go in a binder) and put them all on in there. On bad days it would be nice for him to be able to flip through it and remember that everyone has bad day and ultimately his classmates think it’s a pretty good guy.

  63. 63
    Martin @ nanny cameras February 9, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Thanks for sharing. Your boy seems very understanding and
    lovable. very touching post.

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