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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
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)

TITLE: Stegosaurus
By Jan Ackerson


My mug of tea has gone cold. I’ve situated my writing desk so that I can watch Trevor through the window while I work, but in my vigilance I often forget to drink when he’s playing outside. Truthfully, I don’t write much, either. Anxiety for Trevor’s safety crowds out the words that I’ve composed on my wakeful pillow or in the steam of the shower—those being the only times when my mind is not constantly jangling with Trevor alarms.

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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This article has been read 1784 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Deikun01/17/08
This was an incredible piece. so touching, and so rich with emotion and meaning. Thank you for telling this story. It is one of God's hard lessons, but shows His grace as only the story of suffering and love can do.
Holly Westefeld01/17/08
This one should come with a tissue warning. It brought tears to my eyes both times I read it. This is a beautiful double illustration of the topic.
Marita Vandertogt01/18/08
What a beautiful piece - and yes, heartwrenching. I love some of your phrases "hundred mothers with rolling pins", and the details (five little fingers counting). Can't remember the exact wording but your MCs interaction with her son brought such life to the little guy. This one really touches the heart.
James Clem 01/18/08
Heart-wrenching story! And a myriad of emotions that it evokes. Trevor's innocent trust is so well described.
LauraLee Shaw01/18/08
This one should be published in a magazine. I am touched and moved by your well-written account of this precious boy. Your ending is perfect.
Gregory Kane01/18/08
What a title – and it certainly didn’t disappoint! An intoxicating mixture of grace and enduring compassion. Awesome.
Kristen Hester01/18/08
Whoever you are who wrote this, you are an annointed writer. This is excellent!!! One of my very favorites. The writing is crisp, clear, and beautiful. I love the ending...it is perfect. Bravo to you!
Peter Stone01/19/08
By the title I thought this was going to be humorous. Not fair - the article is heartbreaking. Yet also warming that the mother came to treasure the little one regardless of his condition. (Loved the way she calls him her own little Stegosaurus at the end.)
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/19/08
This poignant story tugs my heart and will not let it go.
Karen Wilber01/19/08
This one is amazing - how you capture so much of the characters' personalities with just a phrase. The ending is fantastic and a perfect example of the topic. Can't wait to find out who wrote this.
Joanne Sher 01/20/08
So tender and heartwrenching. Your characterization was wonderful and your analogy absolutely brilliant. This one brought me to tears.
Corinne Smelker 01/20/08
OK, make this pregoo woman cry why don't you? Seriously though, this was awesome and took my breath away with your strong imagery.

Another EC I think!
Dee Yoder 01/21/08
Beautiful, poignant story. It is expertly written; the characters are real and touching.
Debbie Roome 01/22/08
This is beautiful and very touching. A sure winner.
Laury Hubrich 01/22/08
Wow, Jan! As always you have created a scene that draws us all right in and makes us cry with this mom and her little boy. A masterpiece!
Sheri Gordon01/22/08
Another masterful piece. Your attention to little details is what makes your writing stand out. This is my favorite line: "The front wheel of Kendall’s bicycle spins…spins…spins…then stops." Brilliant description.

Great job with the topic.
Sally Hanan01/22/08
Beautifully written. I should have known it was yours by the amazing descriptions you wielded.
Debbie Wistrom01/22/08
Loooooooooved it!
Loren T. Lowery01/22/08
This mother is far richer, more blessed than almost any character I have ever read.
The depth of her love, the breadth of her vision the wisdom of her heart transcends the physical world into the spiritual where God and his angels resides. How blessed she is indeed to visit there and share fragmentary moments there with her son. This writing is simply extroidanary - all the way from the similies to the curtains it opens for the reader.
Betty Castleberry01/22/08
Lovely, tender, and very special. You've said so much in not many words. Excellent.
Rita Garcia01/22/08
How do you do it? Wrap up so much emotion and so much detail in so few words? Beautiful illustration of the topic. Now I need a tissue!

Catrina Bradley 01/22/08
What a gift you have. I was right there with the mother, seeing what she saw, drinking cold tea, and feeling her feelings. How perfect for the topic. Simply lovely writing.
Linda Watson Owen01/23/08
Your writing never ceases to amaze me. Such depth and richness in so few words! Your whole story so masterfullyly led up to that gut grabbing clincher of a last sentence. Perfect! My, what an artist you are!! Bless you, dear friend, for the many ways you lift us!
Beckie Stewart01/23/08
Wow, you brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. It is amazing what the Lord can do in the heart submitted to Him and the incredible love He displays in our lives when we are gifted to receive the child less perfect to world, but perfectly fitted for us! Thank you for this piece. It was excellent and touched this mother's heart deeply with the memories of many things taught.
Sara Harricharan 01/23/08
This is so private. I can feel the emotion in it and I am with her in the last line where she would never give up her Stegosaurus for a world of young wolves. That brings some very vivid imagery to mind. Awesome writing! ^_^
Patty Wysong01/23/08
This should have had a tissue warning! Soooo good! And that's putting it mildly. Alot of truth here...
TJ Nickel01/23/08
You have an absolute gift. I'm glad I poured a glass of wine before reading this tonight. "Mama." Best one word sentence I've seen in awhile. 'Love believes all things' was racing through my mind as a backdrop to this story. Loved it.
Beth LaBuff 01/24/08
Trevor's story is beautiful. Your writing is so inspirational and touching. Amazing work!
Joy Faire Stewart01/24/08
Congratulations on your well deserved win, beautiful story!

Tim George01/24/08
I'm quite sure this was more than a story. I could see through your eyes as you watched your child. The writing has perfect timing. Great job!!!
Sara Harricharan 01/24/08
LauraLee Shaw01/24/08
Congratulations, Jan. Know this piece will bless and minister to many for MANY years to come...
Pam Richards01/24/08
Excellent writing and perspective. Congratulations on your accomplishment.
Sharlyn Guthrie01/24/08
Excellent illustrations of the proverb, both for mother and child. Congratulations! This is so touching.
Betty Overstreet01/24/08
Well, my friend you have done it again. All the words I could have written to describe my thoughts and feelings have already been said. I am at a complete loss for words. Oh heavens that is not a great place for a writer to be!!

Love ya, keep up your wonderful work. don't know how you find the time to do all you do.