|Pikachu looks on as Boo approaches the lane.|
It's a long story. Long, difficult, and painful. And it's not mine to tell. If ever Boo decides to tell it, then I will support him. Until then, I will protect his privacy. So let's just say.....It's been a long hard road the last few weeks. It's been messy, scary, sad, confusing, and exhausting. And unfortunately, the struggle was not confined to home. It seeped into school. There were witnesses.
These are the moments that tear at a mother's heart. I know how cruel kids can be. I remember school. I watch the news. But Boo's friends...the culture at Boo's school...it's different. Boo attends a small private christian school. Despite everything, there has never been a cruel word, a laugh, a joke, a sideways glance, that made him feel less than accepted and loved. Quite the opposite. Day after day I have entered the school with Boo and heard a chorus of happy voices welcoming him. I've walked down the hall past a doorway and heard excited murmurs after students saw me pass by, wondering whether he was back. I've watched at recess, as a friend made a point to sit next to Boo and chat with him when he didn't participate in the game others were playing.
Most every day, Boo carries with him one of his plush stuffed toys. Characters from the Mario Brothers franchise or Pokemon, usually. The other students not only tolerate this unusual coping strategy, but they welcome it. They interact with the character, and with Boo "through" the character. The teachers allow Luigi or Bowser or Bunnelby to sit atop Boo's desk during class and to be carried through the halls. It's seamless, ordinary, normal. Boo has a niche here. He belongs. He isn't like the rest. He doesn't talk sports. He isn't up on the latest dance craze or pop music favorite. But he is loved. He is included. He is missed when he isn't there.
Today I attended a field trip with Boo and his entire school. We went bowling and then out for pizza. I watched his friends chat with him. I watched as he carefully placed his Pikachu just so, perched so that it could "watch" him bowl. I watched him dance free and silly and carefree to the music playing (much too loudly) in the alley. I watched him make Pikachu dance. I soaked it all in with a grateful heart. No one, from kindergartner to eighth grader, seemed to see anything about Boo that was less than they are. Different...but not less. These kids are defying the stereotypes. They are learning so much more than math, science, reading, and history. They are learning to live out the faith they profess. The love of Christ is truly in all that they do, and all that they are. And for that, I grow more thankful every passing day.