One of the first “poems” I wrote that was inspired by Katie was actually turned into a book! “Tyler and the Spider” is a story of acceptance, no matter the differences. It’s meant to show that being nervous and afraid is not one sided, and that with just a bit of understanding these differences can be overcome.
Having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t be talked to. It doesn’t mean children can’t ask questions; my goodness how are they to learn but to ask questions? Yes, there are things that are “different” about our children and adults with disabilities-sometimes they can’t talk, they may move funny, they may spit, have seizures, vocalize in odd ways that, in the eyes of a child or parent that hasn’t had much experience with something like that, may be disconcerting. And, it can be unnerving, make people anxious; they just aren’t sure how to respond. Do they approach? Will they offend if they do? Maybe they are made aware in that moment just how fragile life can be and that truly no child is safe, so they move to protect their child not from ours but from the sudden fear that it “could be my child”. Or, they could just be rude, because that happens so much more often than it should (which is never).
And, disabilities aren’t the only obvious differences that cause misunderstanding… it can just as easily be glasses or braces or skin color; it could be an accent, a style of clothing. Maybe even that a child is adopted or in foster care. Maybe they have a parent in prison and are being judged for that or an immigrant. Truly it could be anything that makes another person “stand out”. And, I believe, “Tyler and the Spider” addresses these fears from both points of view-of a boy and of a spider. Everyone would guess that the boy may be afraid of the spider, but would anyone guess that the spider is afraid of the boy???
In this story, each “person” is judging the other based upon what they’ve been told, and when a chance meeting brings them they discover somethings for themselves….
And each closed their eyes in fright
thinking that the other might
just do some awful, horrible thing!
But Tyler didn’t squash the Spider.
And the Spider didn’t bite Tyler…
And that’s when the realized,
As they looked at each other in surprise,
That just because someone is different than you,
Doesn’t mean you can’t be friends, too…
As now as they go to bed each night,
Each thinks the other might
Just be their best friend!
And that really is the crux to life. Life is filled of different and amazing people, let’s strive to see past our difference, decide for ourselves what people are really like, and become the friends the world needs.
I have a 10 copies of “Tyler and the Spider” and will happily send them free of charge to anyone who wants one, just pm me your address at firstname.lastname@example.org
Everyone is a poet. Just write!