The question was asked at PTA by somebody’s mother
“Well, what do special needs kids, well, need?”
Asked with feigned ignorance and veiled laughter
An answer came as a shout out from a bulky father in the back “Discipline”
Teacher quickly interjected, “same as all the kids, all of you happiness.
What they don’t want is the different label and force fed solitude.
As judge, for our own safety we set them apart hoping they learn social skills in solitude.”
No audience member sneaks peeks, or looks up except the questioning mother
Most parents have no special child craving acceptance or happiness
The looks to each other reaffirms that their children have no special needs.
Teacher studies them, knows their fears the allure of control imposed through strict discipline
She hears echoes in the back, trickling out as nervous laughter.
Budget cuts, layoffs as we rise to lowered expectations still teacher heard laughter.
Right now it did not register, what was risked in growing a child in solitude
Code words hidden in their minds, when bullied into discipline,
Parents blessed with normal come out in force, pushing back against special mothers
Teacher calmed herself sought to return to the question on ‘need’
She spotted a quiet woman in back dribbling tears laced in unhappiness
Imagining another child desperate to develop skills to share happiness
Never getting the joke but being surrounded by laughter
Never knowing giving and receiving hugs fulfills a need
Our peace of mind, our safety predicated on their solitude
As the child morphs to isolated adult do we congratulate the mother?
As the adult succumbs to anger do we call it failed discipline?
We turn them over to hospitals, foster homes, courts, prisons to provide that discipline
Places of confinement that offer state amenities with tightly controlled dosages of happiness
We’re busy at home with our whole, happy children and lay no blame on anybody’s mother
Days struggling to implant memories of pleasures and laughter
Supplanted by them wallowing in state sponsored activity self directed solitude
Removed from playgrounds inserted in managed homes to get what they need
Soulless lives getting what we want, redefine their needs
Will they fit in when the whole of the world serves as disciplinarian?
We don’t let them share and we are comforted by their solitude
Our ability to know joy diminished in not fostering their happiness
Our shame to acknowledge that our fears quieted the laughter
And teacher watches the back of the room settling her eyes on the good mother
Experts told her to dampen the voices; solitude and quiet were his great need
She tried to intersperse happiness in moments of play so smiles might brighten to laughter
Loving by his teacher, mother didn’t penetrate to the child who required discipline