When I was a teenager I started collecting children’s books.

Because of that, I have a whole slew of them that I adore.

One of my favorites is “Chrysanthemum
.”  (click HERE
to check it out)

It’s the story of this confident little girl who gets the wind knocked out of her at school when other kids are so mean about her looooooong name.

She wilts.

Her parents try everything to console her, to no avail.

But one day all the kids fall head-over-heels in love with their new music teacher, Mrs. Twinkle.  She is funny and kind and beautiful and all the kids want to be just like her.

When she overhears them making fun of poor Chrysanthemum she divulges what her first name actually is:  Delphinium.

Needless to say, the “mean” kids whip themselves right into shape and wish they had long named-after-flower names too.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about that book.

Because sometimes when Lucy comes home from school I feel like Chrysanthemum’s parents.

My heart is broken into pieces.

And I just want to snuggle her up forever.

It’s not even that she comes home from school sad.

Most days she comes home from school with a flushed pink face from the heat, her glasses slightly askew, her bright blue eyes shining and even most of the time with a grin showing off her huge front tooth that has recently emerged right in the center of her smile.

But when we ask what she did at recess she tells us that she sits on a bench all by herself.

And when we ask who she sits by at lunch she mumbles that she doesn’t know their names.

And Dave and I, the worriers of all worriers are the ones who wilt.

I know we are extra sensitive.

We know she is different.  In our minds, she’s the best kind of different in the world.

But to first graders I’m not sure that kind of different really cuts it.

Lately I’ve overheard some of them say a couple really hurtful things that have been daggers in my heart.  Things that have stayed with me and made me droop for days and weeks.  Things I thought Lucy would just brush off and not think about again, but things that she has brought up later in tears.  I really don’t think those kids are trying to be mean, just making first-grader types of observations.  I just didn’t think that sort of thing would happen for a while.

I just thought we had more time.

When she missed the bus the other day I dropped her off at school.  At first she held her head high.  She waved at one girl she knew and said hello with a big smile.  I’m biased but I think she is such a nice, friendly girl.  But as she walked closer and closer to the school her head started hanging low and her shoulders drooped.  There were no little girls running up to ask her to play as I’ve watched with all my other kids.  There was no one to care she was even there.  I wanted to run to her and hug her and yell to everyone on the playground, “Do you guys realize how amazing this girl is!?!  Have you noticed her beautiful blue eyes and her long, curly eyelashes?  Have you noticed what an artist she is?  Have you noticed that she’s kind and good and will share any toy or game with you?  Do you know that she can read chapter books?”

Instead I sat and let tears roll down my cheeks in the car.  

That night I took her cheeks in the palms of my hands and kissed one, then the other over and over as her eyes got more and more sparkly right there so close to mine, and I could see that big front tooth peeking out.

I don’t think I could have loved her more if I tried.

I know Lu is just fine.  She is confident and it seems like every time I quietly worry about her one of her siblings swoops in to do what they do: help her with something, make up a dance with her, jump on the trampoline with her.

And I am reminded once again that no matter what happens at school she has the four best cheerleaders she could ever ask for right here at home.

For that I am forever grateful.

But it has made me stop and talk to my older children a little more carefully and a little more often about looking out for kids who may need a little extra love at school.  We’ve talked to Lucy about looking out for kids who need her too.

Because they are there, whether they are really visible or not.  There are all kinds of kids who just need someone to say hi with a smile.  Or to invite them to join in a game at recess.  Or to just make a nice observation.  Some little thing like that could make all the difference.

All this worrying business has also made me incredibly grateful for the few and far between birthday invitations Lucy has received and for those kids who are just unconditionally nice.

How I hope they will stick with her and make her shine.

Because everyone needs a “Mrs. Twinkle” or two to help them “bloom.” 
How I hope this girl I love will find many of those in her life, and that she can be that twinkle for others who may need her to help them burst out their own blossoms.  
**post-edit note:  I should have mentioned that I have talked to Lucy’s teacher all about this (and she is so very kind and good) and asked that she look out for kids who may need Lucy’s help.  I thought if Lucy has a “special assignment” she will shine more.  I asked if it would help for me to come talk to the kids about why Lu needs to sit in the front of the class (low vision) and other things that are different about her from other kids, but at this point for a few reasons we have decided to leave things as they are.  Also, we are so very blessed that she goes to a school where most of the teachers seem to know and love her, including the great principal, and when we walk together in the hallway many of the older kids (who I don’t even know) say “Hi Lucy!” all nice and sweet.  Melts my heart.  I know Lu will be ok.  It’s just tough to watch things go so differently than they have for my older kids.  I get lonely for her.  I know every mother has children that she worries herself sick about.  Just so grateful for those “Mrs. Twinkles” out there who not only make a difference in the lives of other children they are kind to, but they buoy up those childrens’ parents more than they will ever know.  Thank you deeply for all the kind, sweet comments on this blog that serve as my own “Mrs. Twinkle.”  

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  1. Love this post! Sometimes it seems like we are alone in the fact that we have one kid we worry about more than the others in certain areas. Thanks for the reminder that we aren't alone in our worries.

  2. How I love your thoughts! And the artful way you express them! I, too, have an exceptional daughter and, even at 26 years of age, remind her often that she is a divine daughter of God and worth sooo much! Your thoughts, whether others appreciate them or not, are cathartic for your soul and bring a different perspective to mine. God bless you and your family!

  3. What an amazing post. I feel like I could have written it myself about my own low vision first grader. In a way I wish we lived near each other, because I believe our daughters would be the best of friends. They are so similar, and have the biggest hearts. Who knows–maybe they'll cross paths someday. Your love for Lucy is so great that it makes me love her too…and I've never even met her. I have no doubt that someday you'll be posting pictures of her and all of the many, many friends she'll make over the years.

  4. Thanks for making me cry at 8 in the morning. This Sunday as I was sitting in sunbeams trying to get my daughter, Brynlee, to stay, another little girl said, I don't want to sit by Brynlee, she always wants to sit by me. It really broke my heart. My Brynlee struggles with confidence already and I do all I can to help her. This post is reminding me to teach her to be the one that includes everyone. Seek out the one.

  5. Love this post! Kids can be mean without even knowing it and I love that you talked to your other kids to reach out to kids their age that need a friend. It is a good reminder even for adults. Thanks for this beautiful post.

  6. Hello! I'm a long-time reader, but I don't think I've ever commented before. I HAD to comment today – this post really touched me. My 13-year old son started a new school this fall and I've had these same feelings watching him walk into the building each morning. He's a friendly kid and I know it takes time to make friends, but there is nothing harder for a parent to do than to watch her child be alone in a group. Or hear that they didn't have anyone to eat lunch with. I have reached the same conclusion that you did – load him up with tons of love at home and remind him that next year, when he's the "old" kid, it's his job to go up to someone new, introduce himself and offer to sit with them at lunch! It's a good life lesson for both of us!

  7. This broke my heart and made me cry. For you, for Lucy, for little children everywhere who ever feel different or lonely. For my own children. It's every mother's wish that we could just cradle their hearts in the safety of our homes and arms forever. The world can be so scary and cruel. Thanks for sharing this, and for setting such a good example. Love to you.

  8. This post is oh so beautiful, Shawni. Although I'm not a first grader, in fact i'm a college student, I too have felt overheard my fair share of my teammates saying mean things about me or not inviting me to do things with them. And I wilt just the same as I did when I was in first grade and didn't get invited to play with so and so at recess. But i don't have my mom here to kiss my cheeks and don't have my true home to go back to at night. Lucy is so lucky that you're her mom.

  9. Oh! so sweet and so sad – brought me to tears! Lucy is such a sweet and talented girl! I'm glad there are some of those loyal friends and more importantly that she has such wonderful siblings and parents! (And after you get tons of comments on this post, you can show Lucy how many people are rooting for her who don't even know her personally, but who care about her.)

    Being a little kid can be rough. And being a parent seeing your kids go through rough things is so so hard!! I'm going to read this post to my three daughters and hope it can be an inspiration to us.

  10. So beautiful! There is nothing more painful as a parent than seeing your children not "fitting" in and being alone. I hope that she finds a Mrs. Twinkle and that you can find the right words to make her heart feel better on bad days, it sure seems like Lucy is amazing!

  11. My whole heart goes out to Lucy. I guess every kid experiences this at some point, but I respect the fact that she may experience it differently. My daughter is two years old and very friendly and it already breaks my heart if her sweet hellos aren't returned (silly, I know). But it equally breaks my heart if she seems to be favoring certain classmates over others. I fear the future times that she is on both ends of this spectrum because I know it's inevitable. I would love to hear your thoughts on the flip side of this post…regarding ways you taught your older four to be "the twinkle" when they were younger. As always, thanks for sharing your experience!

  12. My biggest baby (10 years old) lives so much of her life alone and apart and yet is happy, confident and sweet, except when she isn't. Thank you so much for the reminder to fill her life with "hugs, kisses and Parcheesi".

  13. You made me cry this morning for your beautiful Lucy who I've never met, but also for one of mine. My oldest started high school this year, he is a bit socially awkward and to make things harder his best friend since kindergarten has moved on to other friends and no longer includes him. It's been so hard on him as he doesn't have anyone to eat lunch with and it is hard for him to make new friends. It breaks my heart into a million pieces

  14. Oh Shawni, I feel your pain. I've had a few tearful times as this school year has started about my kids too. I really enjoyed reading your post and being reminded that hopefully the love they feel at home will be enough to carry them through their days.

  15. Wow–do you think you hit a nerve?! Thank you for this, from all the other worrying parents. Our fourth grader just had his first major friend "betrayal" (who knows what really happened?) and I ache for him. Hoping for a smooth school year for all!

  16. Shawni,
    I loved your post. Hang in there. The thought came to me that for many kids who don't have the wonderful family support that your family provides, school may be their outlet where they feel accepted and loved by their friends. Sweet Lucy is so fortunate to have your family as her outlet, and what a wonderful loving outlet you provide for all of your children. Not only do they have your immediate family, but they have such a wonderful extended family as well. How very blessed she is. So hard watching our children going through hard things while away from home, but she will be ok, Shawni with so much love to come home to. You are a wonderful example to me. Thank you for sharing.

  17. I don't comment often but I can't help myself today! My "Lucy" is 12. We've had easy, good years and harder years. Two things that I feel like I need to write…
    -Sometimes it hurts us much more than it hurts them. I have had to really look at things in a different way with my oldest to see that often SHE is content without the "best friend" and big group that I think she might be missing. There are times that it hurts her but there are many times that she is content and happy with her little life. It's taken me a long time to figure this out and it brings me a lot of peace. (It also makes it more obvious when she is not happy and when I need to help her problem solve…)

    Second, as a first grade teacher, PLEASE talk to a teacher or counselor at the school. It will not fix everything but making sure that she has a "buddy" is easy at this age. I have found that I often just need to point out to some of the sweet girls in my class that someone else needs a friend and they are happy to fill that roll. I really believe that taking steps in kindergarten and first grade helps in the long run.

    This was beautifully written and I can relate in so many ways.

  18. I don't really have words to express how I feel right now, other than Thank you for opening your heart to us and sharing such beautiful and saddening and hopeful images.

  19. I know what I'm going to do this week, and that's have a talk with all my little kids and maybe even read this post to them and tell about your Lucy, and we're going to all think of someone that we can be kinder to and nicer to at recess. I think you're writing is amazing, I really felt your emotion here. Thanks for sharing, we can all do a bit better I believe. Lucy has the best family I could imagine, she's one lucky girl.

  20. Your post is on a topic I've been pondering lately. My husband and two children and I just moved to a new city for a 4 month rotation for my husband's schooling. So just long enough to meet people, make a few friends, and head out.

    There has been one particular family that has been so so so kind to us. I mean – above and beyond – kind. (ex: calling to see if I need baby items because we moved with as little as possible; inviting us to movies and to their home for dinner; holding my baby so that I can get a break during a relief society activity). I have been completely in awe. Why? There are ton's of people who would be willing to do those things. I'm in awe because they don't seem to have everything going for them. They are a bit awkward in public, their kids are high functioning, incredibly bright, but other children don't flock to them. I can tell people are surface friendly, but don't think to invite them over. Regardless of what I would feel were less than ideal circumstances, they reach out to others. It has been so eye opening and humbling for me.

    This family, who may be what the world would term as "falling short", have been the most open, kind, and Christlike family we have met. They have hearts of gold and their desires are pure.

    I believe it is a test for the rest of us – to be able to look on the heart rather than the outward appearance.

    It's not easy, but it is how the Lord sees. Thank you for posting what you did today. It is giving me more to ponder about… not only for myself, but my children as well.

    I have no doubt Lucy will be a force for good wherever she goes.

  21. Oh, Shas, I'm in tears here as I think of how much I love Lucy and how much I love you! I know we've talked about this quite a bit before but these heart aches are just so hard even though you know Lucy has an amazing support system and more love than most kids could ever dream of. Just know my prayers are with you and that along with 4 siblings that adore her, Lucy's got scores of cousins who think she's the best thing ever.

    Chrysathemum is one of my favorite stories too. I'm going to read it and this blog post to my kids tonight and talk about how they can be kinder to all those around them.

    Love, Saren

  22. So true…..I have always felt the same emotion with this book, but was always so glad that Chrysanthemum had a mom and dad who gave her cake and played parchesi with her. My 7th grade son has Asperger's, and we deal with this same stuff every.single.day. He is also amazing, but it's good to know he has a family who loves him no matter what. Thanks for this post.

  23. amen. and good for you. i say that because i know its hard as the mom to watch your kid go through hard things and to want to try and remove them from the painful situations. i hope i can have the courage to let my kids go through hard times.
    my mom didn't allow me to go through hard things. if i complained she would remove me from whatever it was that was too hard for me. it didn't serve me well in life and i am trying so hard to overcome it. its made marriage that much harder to not give up on and motherhood that much harder to enjoy. it makes everything hard for me because i am so eager to "be saved" from hardship and i have no self confidence.
    i believe that if you pray for Lu and keep supporting her through her hardships, she will gain character, self confidence and learn endurance.

    i freaking love that book, btw. now if only i can convince my husband to let me name a kid chrysanthemum.

  24. I would give anything for my 6 year old to be in your little Lucy's class. She has an incredible gift of looking out for those who need a friend. She never ever lets a kid sit by themselves. She teaches me daily. Interesting though because rarely does anyone invite her to participate. She has been asked to one friends house for a playdate in 3 years. She has hardly any friends and kids tease her constantly. I don't understand why and her teachers cant figure it out either. But instead of letting it get her down, she seeks out the ones who need her. Love that little girl and all she teaches me. I so wish she had Lucy to be friends with! They'd be a great pair with their gorgeous smiles and love of artwork!

  25. Ughhhhhh! So went through this exact thing this morning with my kindergartener. She is usually bouncy and happy and always so fun. Today she was sad! She is not ever sad! All the other little girls know each other and my confident, creative, funny, fun girl stood by herself in line with a sad face. Break.my.heart. I know everyone is still getting used to school, and I know she'll break out of her little shell once she gets more comfortable. It is hard to be a mom and watch your kids be sad. I so totally identify with this post. Thanks for putting yourself out there in this post, because it is healing for me to know we all go through this to some extent!

  26. Love your well-expressed words today. One of my boys struggles with some challenges, and I've felt this way many times. This year in school, we have been hearing from teachers and parents about things he is doing to reach out to kids at school with special needs. It has been so rewarding to see his struggles create in him a very compassionate heart and the ability to notice those that need a friend. Hugs to your Lucy. Tell her she has some people in Texas that think she's fantastic. πŸ™‚

  27. Thanks so much Shawni for this reminder. I try to frequently remind my kids to keep their eyes open for kids at school that need a friend and some extra… and then be the person that gives that love and friendship! It's been a while though since I've reminded them of that and it's time again.

    I think these lessons of love and compassion need to come from the home. They just don't get it at school. Kindness is so important, and it begins at home. My sister has the saying "Kindness Begins with Me" hanging on the door so every time anyone leaves that have that extra reminder. I might need to copy her idea.

    Sorry if this comment is full of typos… 3 yr. old climbing all over me right now πŸ™‚

  28. I know how this feels, my oldest who is in second grade spent the majority of his first grade year alone. I have prayed often and continue to pray for him to find a friend. It hurts and I have spent many nights crying. We just need to continue to pray and encourage

  29. I never comment but this post brought tears to my eyes. I can see one of my daughters so much in what you wrote. She isn't different in a physical way but she has a strong personality to what is right and wrong and other kids don't like it. Thank you for this because I too have wanted to yell out to other kids who have been rude and mean to her right in front of me, to see how great she is. Also thank you so much to Marcie who commented earlier about her being daughter being content with her little life. Thank you so much for your comments as well. I worry about friends for her and being accepted when she is content, most of the time, with her little life as well.
    This post just spoke to my heart, so thank you.

  30. I needed this post more than ever today. We are living this same hard thing right now and it's truly heartbreaking. Our problem is that, of course, the "mean girl" is our friends' daughter, who we also see at church on Sunday. It's hard to know how to handle it, how to help your kid handle it, and how to still be kind to parents who you know are good people.
    I used to think my daughter didn't notice or comprehend it, but yesterday after school we went up to her room after she acted out against her sister and she had a long hard cry, that I really haven't heard before.
    I didn't know stuff like this started in Kindergarten!

  31. Oh man, it is SO HARD to be a parent sometimes! I'm a worrier too and it is so painful when I think of or see my kids get hurt by others:( I'm so sorry that Lucy has to go through this. She is so beautiful! She's so blessed to have such an amazing family, but I know, there's more influence than just family. I don't know her or how much different she is from the other kids but…would it help to talk to her class a little about her? Like to educate them about her syndrome and how that makes her unique? It would also give you a chance to point out the amazing things about her that no one knows and maybe you could even read the book to them? Maybe that wouldn't help….anyway, I'll be praying for her and for you to have peace and I'll continue to teach my children to be kind and seek out those who need friends. Thanks for trusting us fellow moms with your worries:)

  32. This is such a sweet post! Thank you for sharing and reminding my kids to do the same. Lucy seems like the sweetest little gal, and there are definitely kids missing out on her friendship. Good thing she has some of the most amazing parents and siblings around!

  33. I have never commented, but this post brings many emotions. I work in a high school and watch students daily. In the commons during lunch I see students sitting by themselves, trying hard not to be noticed. One young man stood off by himself and our observant administrator called a girl over and asked her to go talk to him. She walked over, smiled and started conversation. The young man's face was radiant. If young people only realized a small hello or friendly acknowledgement goes along way!!!

  34. I'm sitting here crying! What a sweet, beautiful little girl you have. She is so, so lucky to have you for a mom and so lucky to have the siblings she has. My oldest will start kindergarten next year and it's becoming more apparent to me every day how I really do have to make home a heaven for my kids. The world is tough, but my husband keeps telling me that when they know they're loved at home, kids will be okay. I love your blog and your family (and I don't actually know them at all). And I LOVE that book. I read it to my kids almost every night. It's such a good one. πŸ™‚

  35. "Would it help to talk to her class a little about her? Like to educate them about her syndrome and how that makes her unique? It would also give you a chance to point out the amazing things about her that no one knows and maybe you could even read the book to them?"

    "Talk to a teacher or counselor at the school. It will not fix everything but making sure that she has a "buddy" is easy at this age. I have found that I often just need to point out to some of the sweet girls in my class that someone else needs a friend and they are happy to fill that role."

    I had a friend who took these steps (with her child out of the classroom) and it helped SOOO much.

  36. Oh this just makes me cry with a rock in the stomach because it's so hard to know what to do about it! It's such a helpless feeling. There are some sadnesses that you just can't fix! You can only pray! We need a "Summer" from Wonder. I'm sure someone will show up but it may take some time and maturity on the part of the first graders to be able to look around and see someone who needs their help and/or some great mothers who see the problem and will send their child to the rescue. Heartbreaker! Just remember that things will work out. She will be an amazing contributor to the world because of the hard times she has survived. Love.

  37. You should put some sort of warning on this post to NOT listen to Mindy Gledhill's new CD while reading. I have tears streaming down my cheeks right now. You are SO wonderful and Lucy is so lucky to have you!!

  38. I loved this post, so honest and so true to a mother's feelings. I have a hearing impaired son who is in first grade and my heart hurts so often for him wanting so badly for others to see past the obvious and instead see the amazing boy I see.

    But I also think our father in heaven knew just what he was doing with each and every child and perhaps gave them the beautiful attributes and amazing personalities they have to carry them through the hard moments.

    Hope sweet Lucy finds some true and lasting friendships to help and uplift her along her way.

  39. This made me cry. As a mom of 6, I have seen my children in their own unique situations, but being treated like Lucy. Sitting alone at lunch, no one to reach out to them as they try to find a seat on the bus… It makes my mother's heart ache. In turn, just like you, our approach is to teach them to look for others who need help, who are lonely or sad or scared. Be the help. But still, when I think about it, I cry.

  40. I hope and pray that I can help my little guy be as loved an secure as Lucy is at home to shore him up for the storms that may come. He is on the autism spectrum and only 4, but I fear the day when he notices that some kids may not want to be his friend. I notice it already and it kills me. I am grateful for a ward family who has embraced us and reaches out to him with love and understanding.

  41. My heart breaks for Lucy and for your mother heart. I have a brother with Down Syndrome . My mom always says he was the best thing for my 3 sisters and I. We were all fiercely protective of him and it gave us the kind of compassion for others that you can not teach. I really feel it has helped me be more accepting and loving towards those that are different from me even into my adult years. Your other children will be blessed by Lucy as much as they bless her.

  42. Thanks for sharing this! We too love the book Chrysanthemum and read it often. Next time i snuggle with my little ones to read that book i'll give them a little extra love and encouragement and reminder to be a "mrs twinkle" for others!

  43. Such a beautiful post. My oldest is three and in preschool. I so want her to be the child that notices Lucy, that makes everyone feel they have a best friend in her. I'm not sure how to do it, but this post made me re-invigorated to work on it in her . . . and in me. Thank you!

  44. This post reminded me of one of my favorite quotes. "β€œMaking the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone
    Bless your sweet girl…

  45. wow.in tears. i have a 10 year old who is a little different (he has aspersions) and i am constantly praying that the Lord would bring some friends in to his life that he can connect with, i think it hurts this mamas heart hurt more than it does him but he is so used to it by now, it makes me sad kids cant stop and see how fun, smart, creative my boy can be =(

  46. Shawni:
    Thank you for your authentic and heartfelt post about your beloved Lucy. You brought tears to my eyes, but in a good way.

    I appreciate your graceful way in which you get to the heart of so many critically important themes.

    I admire sweet Lucy's grit, and her willingness to show up in her life despite adversity. Lucy inspires me. I admire her courage, her perseverance, and her generous, artistic, and loving spirit.

    Thank you for sharing Lucy's journey with us.
    Take care,

  47. This is so sad; I'm so heartbroken for you & your little girl. I like your mom's comment though. With any luck this situation won't be forever, and sweet Lucy will remember more of the wonderful times with her parents and sibs than these types of experiences, ugh. I don't have kids yet…and I don't know if I could take this! You must feel so helpless. Hope it gets better soon. xx.

  48. This is beautiful, thought provoking, and inspiring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this post. I read this with both tears in my eyes and a warm smile in my heart. As a mother to a three year old, who often thinks about things just like this, you have given me so much food for thought. Just wanted you to know that your post touched the heart and mind of someone deeply, and in that way alone you have spread love and goodness, far and wide. Please continue to share things like this post- the world is a better place for it- I know that I am better for having read it.

  49. I'm so sorry for you and your sweet Lucy. She's got enough on her plate w/o feeling like an outsider so early (or ever!) at school.

    As a kindergarten teacher I see some of my kiddos struggle to find a place to belong in the classroom and on the playground and it's tough, you can't make people talk to the little girl that only speaks Burmese even if you can see how sweet, talented and fun she is, the kids just see different.

    Hopefully as the year goes on she will find a niche, her teacher will highlight her strengths and help build her up both privately and public in front of the kids.

    I'm glad she has you to watch over her and her sibs to lift her spirits at home, she's a lucky girl indeed.

  50. Oh man. Being a teacher this surely brings tears to my eyes. This is the one thing I constantly stress to my students over and over…compassion for all. Especially those that might need it more than others. Thank you for sharing this post. I'll pray for sweet Lucy and her bravery.

    I'm reading the book Wonder to my fifth graders. Have you read it yet? I know how much you love books. It is an excellent book about kindness. Now one of my favorite books. You and your older girls would love it!

  51. Oh my heart breaks over stuff like this! I have a first grader and I pray that she is that girl that takes Lucy under her wing. At the same time I hope that she is the one that is included and liked. Being a parent is just so darn hard. I think there is no truer statement than having a child is forever letting your heart go walking around outside your body. I hope your heart is happy and loved!

  52. Wonderful post, i read it to my 8 year old son. He winced and grimaced a few times and felt really bad. Then he asked about her siblings. He's our youngest of five, so he can relate to Lucy. He struggles in reading, but at the end of the day he too has a wonderful family and finds refuge in his home, just like your Lucy. I think you should submit this story to every elementary school. Maybe teachers should read this to their students. My son listened intently, I know others would too. Your writing style is amazing. Lucy is so blessed to have you for her mommy.

  53. I just read this article right before reading this post about Lucy. Thank you for spreading your kind, giving, sensitive heart on the internet. We need more of that in this world! Thank goodness for amazing teachers too! I bet Lucy has had some great ones. Hope you and anyone else who clicks on it will enjoy this article.
    Kindness rules!

  54. Absolutely beautiful. Wonderfully said. I sit here with tears, but I feel my heart growing with love for your sweet Lucy whom I have never met. She is a beautiful amazing girl; as you are. How lucky you are to be her mother. She is lucky to have you.

  55. I've been reading your blog for a few years now and never comment, but this post moved me to tears. Been feeling the same way about one of my little ones lately. Thanks for sharing and expressing my same thoughts so eloquently. You inspire me!

  56. This post really hit close to home for me. I was actually born without legs and I remember thinking that I was always going to be made fun of or treated different. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with amazing friends who did look out for me when I would run into the "mean" kids. Lucy is such a beautiful little girl and she will (if not already) make those friends that will help her as she gets older. Now, as a mom, I make sure to remind my 3 year old (even as his sweet young age) that we need to be nice to everyone and that everyone is different in their own way. I am going to get me a copy of this book so I can read it at night with my son. Thank you so much for sharing this post. Lucy is a perfect child in Heavenly Fathers eyes and she will go far in life!!

  57. The kids and I just had a talk about this very topic during breakfast and on the way to school. I too will read this to them along with that beautiful Children's book. I love reading how you love your children. I can feel the love you have for Lucy. It's beautiful.
    Once during some hard school times for one of my kids a friend said, "you're only as happy as your saddest child." It's so true.
    I can see through your photos however, Lucy has the best of the best Parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins! I know they aren't there sitting on the bench with her at recess – but I'm sure it's what gives her little heart the strength to carry on!

  58. Oh I just want to scoop Lucy up into my arms after reading this! She is a brave and strong girl and lucky to have such an amazing family to come home to. Chrysanthemum is also one of my favorite stories. I think we might just read it tonight and your post and I will challenge my kids to look for the kids who are alone and might need a friend. Thank you, Shawni, for sharing this piece of your heart with us.

  59. Hi Shawni, just remember you don't have to send Lucy to school if you ever feel it's not the best place for her, even though your other children go. You are an amazing Mother and it may be she would be happier learning at home with you. Contrary to popular belief children do not need school for 'socialisation'. As you have found it can be the most isolating place. Your family and extended family, surrounded with love, is a much better place to learn social skills and build confidence. Lucy is a very special child. God bless.

  60. What a mother heart you have, Shawni! I feel the same way for my sweet daughter who has to deal with severe food allergies and the social limitations and restrictions this places on her and the not-so-nice comments some of her classmates make… You put it all so beautifully and it makes me feel a little better. Thank you!

  61. I don't understand why it needs to be an act of compassion to include others? I think sincere inclusion should be the goal. Adults and children have got to stop being afraid of different.

    My lucy is 7.

  62. Oh man, this hits so close to home. While I don't have a child with special needs, my oldest son who is 11 has always been different. He walks to the beat of his own drum… I love that so much about him, but he has gotten a lot of flack over the years. Children can be so unintentionally mean at such a young age… we are such sinners. Makes me so grateful for our Savior!
    Oh, and Chrysanthemum has always been a favorite of mine too!

  63. Oh man… lots of tears. You are amazing. I don't even know how else to put into words how much I love your blog and your family who I've never even met! I secretly hope that my brother will marry Elle when she's older and he's home from a mission. πŸ™‚ Thank you for writing and sharing your lives and your thoughts on motherhood. You always put everything so perfectly into writing and it always touches my heart- always. And I am amazed how you keep writing after some not-so-kind comments you get. Truly, I admire you! I'm expecting my third baby right now- we don't know yet if it's a girl or boy- but if it's a girl, I am set on including "Elle" in her name and calling her that. Maybe she'll turn out as good as yours. πŸ˜‰ Give that sweet Lucy of yours a big huge hug from North Carolina, tell her how amazing her artwork is, and to keep letting those perfectly blue eyes sparkle. She is wonderful, and so are you. Hang in there, mamma. Only the Lord truly knows how you both feel, so as I know you already do- continue to turn to Him. Lots of love!

  64. Pablo Picasso said: "The meaning of Life is to find your gift. The purpose of Life is to give it away."

    Perhaps…your Lucy will find her "Kindred Soul Friends" through her Art. Other artists tend to be gentle Souls who see the creative spark in each other.

    When I was that age…my Mother shared this great wisdom with me. So…I took my love of piano…and saxophone…and began looking for the other artist around me. Today…in my late 40s…the artistic "Kindred Soul Friends" I found…. are still my very dear and close friends. We still see each other at least once or twice a month.

    Your Lucy will find her's too.

  65. Such a poignant, beautifully written post and boy oh boy did it ever hit home for me. So many times I have pulled up to my daughter's school and watched a plethora of kids playing and laughing and chasing each other at recess only to see my princess sitting on the bench by herself, reading a book or just watching the other kids play. My heart breaks for her and I long to rush over and scoop her up in my arms and hug her and tell her how wonderful she is and how very much I love her. But I don't of course. Instead I sit there and watch and pray that someday she will be one of those confident, chatty girls with a gaggle of good friends surrounding her. Until then, I will continue to encourage her and continue to pray for her and continue to do all that I can to ensure that she sees all the wonderful, unique qualities that make her so precious to me.

  66. This is also my FAVORITE book! In fact we are needing to buy yet another copy because it is read so much! That is not theonly reason I LOVE this post. I have shed many tears because of the unkindness that life brings to our young ones. A dagger is the perfect description. Thank you for being real and relatable and simply wonderful! You will never know how much your blog does for people in particular mothers.

  67. I hope that my comment I am about to share with you is not going to come across as bragging. I hope it comes across as giving you hope. So here it goes…

    I have a son, Rex (he's actually friends with your niece that's a freshman at Mountain View, but that's beside the point). When he was in 4th grade he would come home telling me about a boy named Trey. He noticed Trey eating alone at lunch and playing by himself at recess. I asked Rex if this bothered him. He said yes but being so young he couldn't put a finger on why. I asked him what he wanted to do about it. He said, "Mom, I'm going to sit by him and invite him to play with my friends."

    All it took was Rex reaching out one day and it changed Trey's life at that school. Trey has autism. Most of the kids didn't know how to treat him because of his special needs. Soon, Rex was being invited to his birthday party by a mother that was so grateful that he had recognized how lonely her child was. Trey moved before they finished elementary school.

    But as Rex's mom I am so grateful that what he felt was the Holy Ghost making him aware of a boy that needed a friend. I pray, and I know, that there will be a child at that school who recognizes your daughter and her spirit and realizes she is a child of God and needs a friend, too.

  68. I love that book. When I read it to my class I always have my kids "wilt". I have a student in my room that was attacked by a pit bull the week before school started. She is so lucky to be alive but has a badly cut face and damaged eye. I was soooo worried that kids would unknowingly say hurtful things to her about the scars on her face. They have been so good to her and I don't even think they realize she looks different.

  69. Shawni, I'd love to connect with you about a project I plan to do in my grade 8 science classes here in Victoria, BC (Canada). Part of our curriculum is to study the eye and how it functions. I hope craft pinhole cameras with my students to help explain this, and I hope to bring in some resources from our Canadian National Institute for the Blind to help "real-ize" the learning for my students. I'd love to somehow create a "global" piece to my unit as well and maybe connect my students with your family? I'm still turning this idea over in my head…but if you're interested to "lesson plan" with me and share or suggest ideas, I'd be keen to connect with you. You can find me at: kalleyn@sd61.bc.ca or at my blog: taleoftwoteachers.wordpress.com

    I know you're a busy woman, and champion mama, but feel welcome to contact me if you'd like πŸ™‚


    Karley Alleyn

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