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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Miss March by Bridget Stuart

I'm pretty much the poster child for March-Depressive-Disorder (no, that's not a real syndrome, and you don't get Xanax for it). By this time of year, I'm peering at my smile lines, measuring how deep they're getting, like tire treads. I start to dig through my closet, bringing out spring clothes and hating them all, every tank top and every bias-cut pocket that makes my hips look mammoth and every pair of cropped jeans that hit my calves in exactly the wrong place.

Even worse, I say horrible things about myself, and try to get my husband, the Professor, to agree with me; then if he appears to do so in the slightest, I ruthlessly retaliate with tears. For example: "My hair looks like a wet English sheepdog's, doesn't it?" --"Oh, ha, ha," the Professor laughs lightly. "Your hair looks just fine." Fine. The word is anathema to any right-thinking person. It means the same as 'nice', which means nothing at all, really. You can guess what follows; poor Professor.

So anyway, one March day not too long ago the Professor and I were having dinner at a funky local place, and I was deep into a George Bailey monologue: "Nothing seems to work for me. Nothing I do makes any difference." The Professor was trying hard to perk me up, but I was in full March wallow mode.

That's when I saw a blonde boy, about six years old, sitting at the table next to us with a friend and the friend's mother. The boys looked at the menu, giggled, talked about school. I stared at that blonde boy, unable to believe what I was seeing. I recognized him. I'd been his therapist years before, when he had a diagnosis of autism. Back then, he didn't talk, he didn't make eye contact--typical of many autistic kids. Previous educators hadn't been able to do much with him, and I and the other new therapist on his case worked intensively at it, many hours a week. With our help, this boy made incredible progress, but he left our program at age three. I hadn't seen him since.

And here he was, chatting and laughing, a typical kid on a night out with friends. I'd helped to turn his life around completely. Wow. I started to cry, right there in the restaurant. (The Professor was beside himself until I explained.)

I figured this was God's way of telling me to shut I did.

And whenever March hits hard, I think of that night, when I came face to face with the truth, and the truth was bright and shining. Every one of us is important in this life! Every one of us is like a light to someone else! Think about how you've made a difference, and go ahead. Shine on. And to hell with the month, anyway.


At 7:31 AM, Blogger MaryF said...

MAN, Bridget, now you made ME cry! And God bless you for making such a difference in that boy's life.

At 9:35 AM, Anonymous jan darby, waving hi to the professor said...

Well, I coulda' told you that you make a difference every day. Not just that boy in the restaurant, which was definitely special, but pretty much with everyone you meet.

But did you ask me? Oh, no, of course not. You expected a MAN to understand about this sort of thing? Sheesh.

At 10:04 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

What a beautiful and thought-provoking post. I think maybe we don't realize how much we impact other people's lives. I think you're a fabulous person, Bridget. Here's to April, huh? :)

At 12:06 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Mary, big hugs--and a handkerchief! After reading your comments and Jan's and Trish's, I might need you to pass it back to me when you're done. You all are too good, and very bright lights yourselves.

BTW, I knew better than to lay any of my whiny wallowing on you guys--I'd be dodging wet noodles!

At 4:05 PM, Anonymous JR said...

What a beautiful parable.
As a former educator, I know how rare and thus precious it is to have a rewarding experience like the one you shared.
I'm curious; what happened next?

I hope it was nothing fine or nice!

At 5:27 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Thanks for stopping by the WNP, JR! Mary F who commented above is an educator, too, besides being a fab award-winning writer.

What happened next? (LOL on the 'fine' and 'nice' thing.)

Well, nothing happened really, because I couldn't approach him without breaching confidentiality. If he'd been with his own mom, it would've been different. Once I stopped dropping tears into my steak, I just smiled at him and waved, and he probably thought, 'That lady's weird' if he thought anything at all.

Okay, I admit it. I am weird. But like John Lennon said, "we all shine on, even if we're weird'. Okay, he didn't say that last part.

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Diane Perkins said...

What a gift, Bridget! I rarely learned what happened to the children I treated. I hope that I helped, but I will never know. That was one of the parts of the job one had to accept. This story was such an inspiration! Wonderful!Diane

At 10:33 PM, Anonymous The Prof said...

I make a living in higher education, but sometimes I wonder what's "high" about it. You are making a huge difference in kids, parents and in the troubled world that surrounds them. My attempts to shape a small part of the worldview of some 18-year olds is one thing -- you're making a worldview possible within a child. What you do is the highest education. It's a gift like no other.

At 7:04 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Bridget, you need to keep that prof!

And honey, you make a difference every morning when you climb out of bed. With your own boys, with your husband, with the college community and the Mayan stuff, with all of us at the WNP! Don't ever forget that.


At 9:28 AM, Blogger bridget said...

More beautiful comments! Thanks you-all!

Diane, you're so right. It was such an unexpected gift. Usually you just throw your bread on the waters and you can't tell if it feeds anybody. But I *know* you helped your patients; there isn't a doubt in my mind. You are very special.

Hey Professor! I know you. Smooch! Those were such sweet things you said. I hope you don't mind that you've become blog-fodder. I only say good things about you in these pages. I think. (Now you're going to check it every day, I bet)

Tori, thanks for the lovely encouragement! And all that stuff you said? Right back atcha. Except the Maya stuff, of course :)

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Kiki, aka Esri said...

WOW. You're my SuperHeroine for the day, Bridget. If something like that was the only thing I ever accomplished, I would still feel my time on earth was justified.

And I put my husband through the ringer, too. Oh, well. I hope we make up for it in other ways.

At 6:24 AM, Blogger Jill Monroe said...

Bridgit - I LOVED that story.


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