The Lucky One

Sara - Des Moines, Iowa
Entered on February 19, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

For the past six years I have worked taking care of mentally and physically disabled children. Some are verbal and some aren’t. Others are confined to a wheelchair dependent on me to move them, while others choose to run the neighborhood streets on the hottest day of the summer with myself and several other staff frantically sprinting after him. The children I take care of have been placed in my hands for various reasons some medical, some behavioral and a few have families that have no other option. Each child has a unique story but the one commonality among all of them is they all have taught me something.

Over the years I have been through more tying times than I even care to think about. I have had traumatic experiences with every bodily fluid and have more scars then I can count. These aren’t the times that really stand out though. It is the enjoyable experiences that paint my memories of the last six years. I remember taking all the kids outside in the summer and dancing to the Cha Cha Slide with all the workers from the nearby Chinese restaurant gawking at us and watching my favorite little guy finally take his first steps after months upon months of walking circles around the unit with him holding on to one of my fingers.

In the spring of 2003 one of the biggest joys entered my life. We got a new resident at work. He was seven and full of life. We bonded instantly and have been having fun ever since. I can be in the worst mood but when I his smiling face I can’t help but smile myself. While I have taught him a few things like how to walk and to give kisses. I have learned twice as much from him. He is always in a good mood and never fails to get up and try again.

Whenever anyone finds out where I work, they always comment on how difficult my job must be and how they never could to it. That is usually followed by a statement of how lucky the kids are to have me to take care of them. I believe I am the lucky one. I have gotten the opportunity to share theses kids’ lives. They have taught me to be patient and how to handle frustration. I have learned to read people based on their facial expressions and nonverbal communication. It is the greatest feeling to have a little boy scream your name the minute you walk in the room as he throws up his arms to give you giant hug.

These kids aren’t going to grow up to be millionaires. Some of them don’t even have families that come visit them but they are genuinely happy and I have gotten to be part of it. I have watched them grow and master skills. My kids are a huge part of my life. Their pictures cover the walls of my room and I talk about them constantly. I am the lucky one that they have let be part of their lives.