The Day I Finally Cried
by: Meg Hill, Chicken Soup for the Soul
I didn't cry when I learned I was the parent of a mentally handicapped
child. I just sat still and didn't say anything while my husband and I
were informed that two-year-old Kristi was - as we suspected -
"Go ahead and cry," the doctor advised kindly. "Helps prevent serious
Serious difficulties notwithstanding, I couldn't cry then nor during
the months that followed.
When Kristi was old enough to attend school, we enrolled her in our
neighborhood school's kindergarten at age seven.
It would have been comforting to cry the day I left her in that room
full of self-assured, eager, alert five-year-olds. Kristi had spent
hour upon hour playing by herself, but this
moment, when she was the "different" child among twenty, was probably
the loneliest she had ever known.
However, positive things began to happen to Kristi in her school, and
to her schoolmates, too. When boasting of their own accomplishments,
Kristi's classmates always took pains to praise her as well: "Kristi
got all her spelling words right today." No one bothered to add that
her spelling list was easier than anyone else's.
During Kristi's second year in school, she faced a very traumatic
experience. The big public event of the term was a competition based
on a culmination of the year's music and physical education
activities. Kristi was way behind in both music and motor
coordination. My husband and I dreaded the day as well.
On the day of the program, Kristi pretended to be sick. Desperately I
wanted to keep her home. Why let Kristi fail in a gymnasium filled
with parents, students and teachers? What a simple solution it would
be just to let my child stay home. Surely missing one program couldn't
matter. But my conscience wouldn't let me off that easily. So I
practically shoved a pale, reluctant Kristi onto the school bus and
proceeded to be sick myself.
Just as I had forced my daughter to go to school, now I forced myself
to go to the program. It seemed that it would never be time for
Kristi's group to perform. When at last they did, I knew why Kristi
had been worried. Her class was divided into relay teams. With her
limp and slow, clumsy reactions, she would surely hold up her team.
The performance went surprisingly well, though, until it was time for
the gunnysack race. Now each child had to climb into a sack from a
standing position, hop to a goal line, return and climb out of the
I watched Kristi standing near the end of her line of players, looking
But as Kristi's turn to participate neared, a change took place in her
team. The tallest boy in the line stepped behind Kristi and placed his
hands on her waist. Two other boys stood a little ahead of her. The
moment the player in front of Kristi stepped from the sack, those two
boys grabbed the sack and held it open while the tall boy lifted
Kristi and dropped her neatly into it. A girl in front of Kristi took
her hand and supported her briefly until Kristi gained her balance.
Then off she hopped, smiling and proud.
Amid the cheers of teachers, schoolmates and parents, I crept off by
myself to thank God for the warm, understanding people in life who
make it possible for my disabled daughter to be like her fellow human
Then I finally cried.