Previous Challenge Entry (EDITOR'S CHOICE)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush” (without using the actual phrase or literal example).( 01/10/08)
By Jan Ackerson
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I absent-mindedly pick up my mug and sip the cold tea, then set it aside with a crinkled nose. My eye catches a movement outside; my heart quickens and trips. Trevor is still sitting in his little blue chair under the oak, and Kendall from across the street has tossed aside his bicycle and stopped to talk to him.
The front wheel of Kendall’s bicycle spins…spins…spins…then stops.
My mama instincts flare up, and I watch my little boy with Kendall. They are the same age, but Kendall’s body moves with the quickness and agility of a young wolf, and he powers his bicycle to school each morning as if pursued by a troop of rolling-pin wielding mothers. Trevor will not ever ride a bike, and he travels to his special school in a little bus as stunted as his own vocabulary.
After a few minutes, Kendall mounts his bike and pedals furiously away; all is well. Trevor resumes his solitary play under the tree, and I type a few paragraphs.
One page later, I’m yanked from my computer by the appearance of Trevor in the doorway. His nose is running and his eyes are wet. I scoop him up and he starts to sob, clenching and unclenching his stubby fists and wiping his face on my shoulder.
“Trevor, what’s wrong? Was Kendall bad to you?”
“Card, mama.” Trevor burrows into his pocket and pulls out his beloved dinosaur cards. “Stegosaurus all gone.”
It amazes me that this child who didn’t speak until nearly his third birthday and who still cannot quite pronounce his own name knows every dinosaur in the pack.
“Where’s your stegosaurus, Trevor?” I rifle through the cards; perhaps he has simply missed it.
“Kendall took your stegosaurus? Trevor, why?”
“Give Trevor more dinosaur. This many.” His hand splays—five fingers. He smiles through his tears. “Where more dinosaur, mama?”
Oh, my precious boy. This lesson is just too hard for you to learn. How can I teach you to hold on firmly to what you treasure, when you would give your stegosaurus to Kendall again tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow for the promise of five more?
As I hug Trevor and plan a trip to the toy store, a whispering in my spirit nudges me back to a dark time in my life—to that period between Trevor’s diagnosis at eighteen months and my own encounter with grace.
…I watch my sister’s baby with bitterness bathing my throat. He is several months younger than Trevor, but he has already achieved all of those childhood milestones still unchecked in Trevor’s baby book. Smile. Grasp. Roll over. Babble. Crawl. “Mama”.
I cry out to the One as yet unknown to me: This isn’t what I want! I want a little boy who will play soccer, and build model airplanes, and fly kites! You can have this little boy… I want a different one…
The memory pulses in my soul and reddens my cheeks as I look across the street. Kendall and his older brother are kicking a soccer ball back and forth. Kendall points to Trevor’s blue chair and pulls something from his pocket: Trevor’s dinosaur card. I hear laughter, and then Kendall deftly kicks the ball into the air and catches it one-handed. As the boys saunter into their house, the card flutters to the ground.
Holding tight to Trevor—this boy who I treasure more than anything—I breathe a prayer of thankfulness for my little stegosaurus who is worth more than a world of young wolves.
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