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

......... 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

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.)

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

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