Friday, January 27, 2012

The LION Lady? A Miraculous Roar!!!!

photo of: Zoo projects for preschool, Lion art project on paper plate, jungle animal art project for children
Preschool LION craft, built on paper-plate with construction paper manes: curly + straight styles.
I will remember forever the telephone conversation that started off,        
                          "Are you the LION Lady?"

It was in the last century. Truly. I was on a land-line, old school phone, the kind that attached permanently to the wall, remember those? It is a story that will forever warm my heart. It's a story that literally ended up on Oprah's Medical Miracles, while she was still on the air. Those of you who have 'seen' me in person at a conference have quite possibly heard me tell the story.........


photo of: Zoo art project on paper plate for preschool, craft project for zoo theme
Curly lion's mane craft. Gotta LUV those whiskers!
Once upon a time at  the birth of a little baby-boy there were many emotions. Upon his birth he scored such a low Apgar score that his parents were counselled by the hospital staff not to hold him, but instead to place him immediately, forever and permanently into an institution. They were told he would never __________ (fill in the blank.) He would never sit up. He would never speak. He would never walk. In their informed opinions: He would never. Never ever. Never.



photo of: handprint zoo animal craft project, paper plate crafts for zoo theme, preschool art project
Handprint lions with paper-plate heads, embellished with scissor-cut manes + pompom noses
But the parents knew that option of institutionalisation was not for them and they hugged him tight and took him home to love him. Sure enough, he didn't hold his head up. He didn't sit up. Milestone by milestone he didn't. For years, he didn't. It seemed that the experts had been correct. The milestones came and went and he "didn't" -- the distance between his peers was dramatic.

Then one day the heroic daddy in the story was able to run in the Boston Marathon -- as a testament to what can be accomplished. He was interviewed on a good morning Boston TV show. A super-duper specialist got ahold of the family to say, "I have new insight. I have an idea and I believe that I can help, based on your eloquent description of your son in your interview. I think there is reason for hope."
And the miracle of transformation began.

 

Happy-lion Handprint with written label

The mommy on the phone had called to ask me if I ever 'do' birthday parties. My initial response was "No, there's not enough time." But I have a hard time saying no -- so I kept rambling, "I only get involved in birthday party fun, for families that have a child with special needs -- as there are fewer appropriate options for them."

So the mommy excused me from participating, but asked if I had time to hear her story. She told me of their family's journey. She told me about her son. She went on to say the words I will remember forever:

"Lion Lady, I just got a note from my son's speech therapist at school and it says that the 'ROAR' at the end of your Lion Song is our son's first spoken word.... HIS FIRST, SPOKEN WORD!"




Without pausing for a second: my response?
"So when's the birthday party?"
Paper plate lions with magic marker 'coloring' complete with the ever-popular google eyes and marker smiles!
You just never know when you're shopping at a re-sale or thrift store, when you're going to pick up a something oh so amazing, a something oh so spectacular: a little miracle-for-a-dollar!!!!
I found my infamous lion's mane at a Bexley resale, consignment shop -- hanging right there on the Halloween costume rack, right there on East Broad Street.

Yes, it's actually a dance tutu made of multi-colored netting!!!
[I always tell the teachers that any tutu meant for around a child's middle will fit nicely around your face.... and that observation always gets a chuckle.]

Infamous thrift shop tutu: lion\
Debbie Clement, the "Lion Lady" with thrift store tutu-mane for $1.00 miracle.

I bought my mane and went on to I compose one of my favorite and simplest ditties, "LION PROWL" based on Dr. Pam Schiller's insight regarding the whole topic of delayed gratification. [Her thoughts on that subject as I remember them, can be the subject here for another day.] I just knew at that moment  as I clutched that tutu to my heart, that every child that ever saw me in my 'tutu-mane' would want to roar -- just as soon as they saw me. So I designed the song so the children would have to 'wait' to roar. Three full verses of waiting!!! DELAYED GRATIFICATION, indeed!!!!

Little did I ever, in my wildest imagination suppose, that my dollar investment would motivate an amazing 'mini-miracle' of its own. That my dittie would be the motivation of a nearing-his-sixth-birthday child to want to
R.O.A.R!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


......... listen for that roar...........................

But roar he did!
I made it to their home in Westerville Ohio, just a mere ride around the outer belt of 270 to arrive at their family room transformed into the most jungle-i-est of jungles you can possibly imagine.

Everything about his sixth birthday was on a lion theme. All five of the party-goers (friends from his class of buddies with special needs) were decked out in lion gear costumes while garlands of vines hung round the room filled to over-flowing with 'therapy' tools tucked neatly into corners for the party festivities.

The special activity of the afternoon was for each child to spread icing on a personal over-sized, gigantic cupcake and then sprinkle coconut 'manes' round the lion's face they would create with Peanut M+Ms.

I get goose-bumps just typing out the story. You can imagine my delight walking into a school last week to find all of these lion projects. Every one unique. Every one smiling at me as though to ask, "Are you the Lion Lady?"
We 'sang' together that afternoon long ago, "listen for that roar:________________."

He defied every initial professional prediction.
They proved wrong every one of those initial specialists.
The window of opportunity slipped open a crack and he
ROARED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lion loved doubly, filled with grace!
Never say 'never' to a family filled with love.
When there's plenty of love and plenty of grace?
That makes room for a miracle.



****Always believe that there is a rainbow within reach!!!!!


--Debbie --

The parents are the heros in this story, along with their support team of many specialists. 


Now you know why I have such an amazing collection of lions as a Pinterest board.


For another heroic story of parenting a child-turning-adult with special needs, click back here to meet Eric. I am the 'conduit' in that story because of having made a House Ten illustration for my picture book, "Red, White and Blue"..... which was inspired by the events and aftermath of September 11th. 

Eric is fascinated by all things fire-station: fire truck, fire-bells, fire house, firemen, fire hoses, fire sirens. He is the official mascot for 'House 10' in Orlando. We met last year. 




This post has been linked to other blog hops and linkies at RedTed Art Blog, Nurture Academy. Sunday Showcase  + Family Frolics. This has also been added to the permanent linkie party over at The Mommies Made me Do It! for all sorts of birthday party ideas! Now with other Fun Lessons at MamaSmiles and JDaniel4's too -- with special permission. Now added to TBA's International Blog Hop: Teaching with Courage!  (I couldn't get their awesome button to work, just follow the link.)








49 comments:

  1. this brought tears to my eyes and gave me chills! what a miracle! God bless you for your passion and contributions to the early childhood community!

    andie @ crayonfreckles

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    1. Andie. Thanks so much for coming over and supporting my work by sharing in this story. We all do our part. I will always feel graced by having had this experience. What each of us contributes makes a difference. I honestly believe that. Thanks for your supportive words.

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  2. this was such a beautiful post! tears in my eyes! what an amazing story! those lion activities are so neat, too. sharing on my fb page.

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    1. Thanks so much. Seeing all of those lion-projects just filled my heart all over again. I hadn't especially even thought to tell the story of these heroic parents, but as soon as I uploaded the pictures, I knew it was time to commit it to cyber-paper. Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for stopping over to read of this story. It is one of the blessings of my life to have experienced this one afternoon of grace. It's very special to share it here. Thank you for your kind words.

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  4. Touching me deeply! How can I not share??

    Love to you, Lion lady <3

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    1. I am so appreciative of your sharing this story. I do honestly believe that what we do with children is filled with miracles. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to know 'the rest of the story.' Thank you.

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  5. Beautiful Debbie! Just Like You! <3

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    1. Oh Laura. I am so glad that you stopped by. I am so grateful for all of your support and encouragement. I heart you right back.

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  6. Oh I love, love, love this story. I love the lions. I so wish you were closer and could come and visit us.

    Mandy
    http://aspecialkindofclass.blogspot.com

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    1. Mandy. When I was writing this story out -- the first time I've taken the time to put it into words to read, I was thinking of you and everything you do on a daily basis. Here's to all of your effort making a difference. Every day. One day, how about I stop in for a visit?!!!!!!

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  7. What a beautiful story! Never, say never. I know because I was told my youngest would probably never walk, or talk, or hear or see. He does all of the above. :-)

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    1. Oh, Rose. Then this is YOUR story. Your story of love and dedication and effort and work and LOVE all woven together. YOU are the REAL Lion Lady. I am so proud of you for keeping hope alive. I'm so grateful that you had the opportunity to read this story.

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  8. Debbie, this is such a moving story. Such a beautiful message of the power of music, creativity, and love.

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    1. Yes. Rebekah. You are so very accurate. It is about all of that power brought together..... music, creativity and indeed LOVE. Thank you for your kind words.

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  9. What a beautiful story, Debbie! We have a little guy at our center now with a similar story. His parents wouldn't give up and neither will we, his caregivers, or the many therapists who come to us to serve him.
    And, there's ALWAYS room for a miracle! :)

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    1. It takes everyone working together, Ayn. EVERYONE. There's always room for HOPE! That makes all the difference in the world. Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your support -- as always.

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  10. That's so beautiful, Debbie ... it brought tears to my eyes. I truly appreciate the wonderful work you've done and continue to do for the children of the world. I shared your post at the Living Montessori Now Facebook page and pinned your post to my Special Needs Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/special-needs/

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    1. Deb. I am so appreciative of your sharing this story with your wider readership. This is the first time that I have shared it in written form and I offer it here as encouragement for others. Thanks, I'm so grateful.

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  11. Every child - special needs or not has their motivation - my son who happens to be 'special' - was motivated by his love for his grandfather - to shout out his first word 'Grandpa'. He was 3 - I was told to 'put him away'- he would not do anything 'normal'! Humph! Today he has 2 jobs and is prepearing for independant living!
    Debbie we are all important - the motivators and those being motivated! You have a gift - keep sharing it!

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    1. Leeanne. You know from your personal perspective, the difference and contribution from everyone on the 'team.' Your hard work as a parent, as a teacher -- you have worn all of the hats -- you know, up close and personal. It is the parents who are the heros. Let's all keep working together, contributing all that we can on behalf of every child. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. A personal story that has obviously touched you so deeply, but by sharing as you have you have let it also touch so many others. In this case you are not the inspiration Debbie, but the conduit through which such marvellous inspiration flowed into the wider world.

    Now if I ever hear myself say, "It can't be done" I will roar like a lion to shake such thoughts from my head.

    I will do what I can to spread this as far as I can.

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    1. Greg I am so touched by your response. Yes, we as teachers are indeed the 'conduits' for the learning that transpires under our watch. I LUV that word by the way!!! (Extra points for its use.) The miracles that happen "on our watch" are many -- in the lives of these wee-wonders. Every now and again you get to hear how your efforts fit into something truly amazing.

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  13. That is brilliant! It made me well up! I love the curly Lion mane as well!

    We are going to make those!

    Thanks for linking to Family Frolics.:)

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    1. So grateful for the opportunity of sharing over at Family Frolics. It is indeed the 'family' in this story that made the difference. I appreciate the added readership your linkie affords.

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  14. Oh my, these lions are ADORABLE!!! Love them ALL!

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!

    Maggy

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    1. Maggy, the ideas really are fun -- aren't they? I'm really grateful for your linkie to bring additional readers to the story. THANKS!

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  15. What a wonderful story. And the lions are just adorable! I am a new follower visiting from the Sunday Showcase. Vicky from Mess For Less

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    1. So glad that you've found my little corner under the rainbow, Vicky. I just LUV the linkies and am so grateful for your follow! The story deserves to be told to a wider audience. Thanks.

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  16. What a wonderful story! I'm so glad you made it to that party!

    Thanks for sharing with Learning Laboratory at Mama Smiles =)

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    1. You're absolutely right, MaryAnne! I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to have an invitation to yet another milestone. We all contribute so much, but we don't always realize the impact in the midst of our own legacy. Thanks for coming by.

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  17. Wow, what an amazing post! I'll be honest, I had seen this linked up everywhere and not read it - I'm not sure why, but I am so glad I have now!

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    1. Charlotte. Thanks so much for coming over. I'm so grateful for joining the KBN. It's such an amazing group. I look forward to learning from all of you.

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  18. Wonderful story, wonderful you, wonderful inspiriation, wonderful! You are an amazing person, teacher, and writer. Love this story and even this one is pinable.

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    1. This is truly one of amazing AND 'wonderful' stories. I have shared it often in person -- in presentations, but seeing it documented with typed words makes it seem "real" on a whole new level. Carolyn, thank you for taking the time to read of this family's miracle.

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  19. amazing story. So inspiring. Glad you shared it.

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    1. It has always been inspiring to me to observe and encourage children who have challenges. It is indeed amazing to realize that I am a small part of this child's story. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment.

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  20. You are amazing! I love this story and I love that he roared!

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    1. Years and all these years later, I still get goose bumps hearing his roar in my heart's memory. Thank you for allowing me to stretch the parameter's of your linky party and share it with your wider reading audience. It deserves to be re-told. Parents make all the difference in the lives of their children.

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  21. Absolutely beautiful. Amazing story. ROAR!

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    1. You sweet heart. Sending LUV even all these weeks later!

      Debbie

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  22. Thank you so much for linking this to Read.Explore.Learn.

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    1. So grateful to you for hosting. You're the best!!

      d.

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  23. wow, what an amazing story! I was touch & uplifted just reading it - AMAZING!

    Thanks so much for sharing on the Sunday Showcase - this was a joy to read.

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    1. So glad to have had the opportunity to share it with a wider audience than my own. Thanks for swinging by to read it!

      Debbie

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  24. Debbie:

    I am HONORED you chose to add this story to the courage stop on the TBS's Blog Hop. My heart is warmed, thanks to you...

    Kim
    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

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    1. Kim, we are a mutual admiration society of the best sort. Your stories are worthy of a tissue as well. COURAGE!! Be BOLD!!! Being young and going for the gusto is a very, good thing!

      Debbie

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  25. Debbie, although my kids don't generally have learning issues to this degree, I love to absorb as many resources as I can, because I truly believe they ALL have application somewhere, and once they've learned, the children can be wonderful teachers to each other... you are one of the lucky ones and we are the luckiest for being next in line to share your grace... thank you so much... Denise

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Thanks for your support! I am so appreciative of your pins!
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