Below is an article written by my seventeen year old son, Stefan. Part of my goal to educate and promote inclusion also includes acknowledging all the loved ones of a special needs individual. Each family member comes to terms with a medical setback in their own unique way. Myson has always been very nurturing with his sister, Naomi, but I did notrealize the intensity of his concern for her. The protector rises within him and is equivalent to his love for her. When I asked him to write this article, I knew he had a writing gift but this really opened my eyes. It squeezed at my heart to see how deeply he feels about her. May this bless you and your family as much as it does mine. We must always remember to include ourselves, whether we are the parents or another relative of someone with special needs, in the healing process. I hope that my son’s words spark more steps towards a world that is rid of misconceptions. May it lead to freedom for all our worries and fears as we remember that “it takes a village.”
~ Stefanie Boggs-Johnson
The Ink to My Pen
Do you know what it feels like? Have you ever sat anxiously thinking about all the demeaning and demoralizing insults little kids may exclaim at your younger sister because she isn’t “normal” like them? Are you constantly worried about your sister’s future and what opportunities she may be excluded from? Odds are, your answer to these uncomfortable questions is, most likely, “no.” However, for me, these vicious thoughts occur in my mind daily. Being the sibling of an energetic and humorous nine- year-old girl with mild cerebral palsy is the best thing to ever happen to me, but the inhumanity of those around her is what has me in a constant state of fear.
I know what Naomi Erica Johnson is capable of in this world. She is a very intelligent, imaginative, and loving child that wants nothing more than to have fun and live a normal life. Despite this, there are many disgusting people in this world that will try to tear her down and make her seem less than who she is: a beautiful girl who can do whatever she sets her mind to at any given moment. I am always wondering how her day is going and hoping that nobody is spewing rude comments her way simply because she was born with a disability. I am always making sure she is as healthy as can be so that her disability doesn’t hinder her at all. I am always persistent in assuring that she does her homework diligently and on time. I am always the overprotective brother that wants the best for his sister.
Although my anxiety and instinctive need to be her guardian causes me to constantly worry about her wellbeing, my little sister has also brought me an abundance of joy and peace. I love being able to admire her giant glowing grin whenever she sees me after along day or week. Going to the park, talking about how our day went, or simply being in her presence gives me an overwhelming feeling of exuberance. Not only has she made me happier and given me companionship like no other, she has also played a large role in molding me into the man that I am today.
Naomi has shown me what it truly means to be perseverant. She defies all expectations and limitations placed on her by educational systems, outsiders, and even the doctors that told our family she may never be able to do things a “normal” person can do. No matter how difficult a task may be due to her condition, she refuses to let it stop her. It is this relentlessness that motivates me every day to strive for greatness.
Naomi is not just my little sister, and I am not just her older brother. We are each other’s rock in a hard place; we give each other solidarity and confidence in life that nobody else can provide. She’s the jelly to my peanut butter, the wind to my sails, and the ink to my pen.
Stefan Jones lives in Concord, California and is a senior in high school. In addition to working part-time, he is a volunteer for the Seniors Club at his school. Stefan is an honors student and hopes to attend UC Berkeley to major in Sports Management. He loves to hang out with his sister, his friends and enjoys going to concerts. Naomi Johnson is nine years old and is a pediatric stroke survivor. Diagnosed with mild cerebral palsy, she has overcome many obstacles and is a thriving, happy child. She loves to play outside with her brother, dance, color, and make slime.