… and soapboxes small


Last weekend, I took the girls to a birthday party for a little girl that Brooke knew from pre-school. L was one of Brooke’s first real friends, and despite the fact that they have been in different schools for over a year now, the connection remains. L is adorable. She was the first to join Brooke in the Deebahs. She’ll always be held in high esteem around these parts.

The party was at the gym where Brooke had been a founding member of the superstars class – a class for kids on the spectrum. As I watched her navigate the scene with relative ease, I was moved and awed by how much progress she’s made since the early days of that class.

While I watched, Miss J, one of the gym’s directors came over to chat. I welled up as I thanked her for helping us create the class. There was no hiding how much it meant to us or how much it had helped Brooke.

As we watched, Brooke climbed a wiggly waggly rope ladder and allowed (even tentatively welcomed!) a helping hand from a teacher.

We both marveled at how far she’d come.

A couple of days later, Luau and I got an e-mail.

Hello! It’s “Miss J” from (the gym)! I had so much fun with Katie and Brooke at L’s party this past Sunday!

Jess, our conversation that we had stayed with me since that afternoon.

I am writing this e-mail to you to see how I can become more involved with autism events at local schools or in the community. When I took this job and the superstars class launched it became one of my favorite classes. The best feeling was teaching and helping the superstars be challenged and accomplish their challenges- even having some of the kids move over to whiz kids! and I loved being a part of that and watching all the kids grow!

So if you have any events that I can help out in I would love to ….

It doesn’t take a lectern. It doesn’t take a microphone. It doesn’t take an invitation to speak to a bunch of executives. Hell, it doesn’t even take a good excuse. Sometimes, all it takes is a casual conversation and shared pride at a birthday party.

I put Miss J in touch with some folks who can use her help.

The army gets stronger.

And after today, I promise to get off the soapbox kick. Maybe. For like a week. Oh hell, no promises.

13 thoughts on “… and soapboxes small

  1. i love the way your clan changes people. you, matt, your little ones…people meet you guys and their awareness of others, autism issues, change, grow. you’re really an amazing family…your niftiness shows in the impact you clearly have on others. quite nice.

    they must have made soap boxes really sturdy back in the day. people always stand on them. no one ever stands on tooth brush boxes. or just the ground. soap boxes are the way to go.

  2. Friend:

    American Heritage: n. A person whom one knows, likes and trusts.

    Alt : A person who will tell her 5′ tall, out of shape, overweight friend that she looks like a supermodel. And manage to throw in some Yiddish while doing so.


  3. Im sitting here trying to type all the racing thoughts in my head… alas my fingers cannot keep up with the torrent. Miss J is a true teacher by definition. There are people that teach, and then there are people that are taught as they teach, making them that much more of a teacher, kwim? Our children bring more to the table than NT’s. Things dont come easily that come naturally to others, and our kids have to work *so* much harder. Its such an intense moment of joy and pride when our children work and achieve their goals. I also know the amount of perseverance, grit and determination that it takes for them to accomplish these tasks, and I am always in awe – silently reflecting about how ‘weak’ I seem in comparison. Thank you Miss J and all the others that are out there just waiting for the ‘call to duty’.

  4. lisa ~ they are gifts indeed. and they’re out there. sometimes all it takes is the chance to see the kind of a difference they can make.

    jersey ~ will do. i keep wondering if people are rolling their eyes out in the ether ‘oh god, the flippin soapbox again .. reeeeally?’

  5. schmengie.

    NOBODY is rolling their eyes at your soapboxing. i think we’re a) all collectively asking ourselves how you continue to do it and b)
    how WE can do it and finally, c) how you do it and still manage to look like a supermodel.

  6. I love the people and energy that your whole family attracts. Seriously. It’s the Miss J’s of the world, and the woman you met at the ice cream parlor recently…and the waitress at your little take-out Chinese joint…the ones you touch and who allow their hearts to be stretched. Those are the real change agents in this world. Keep on soap-boxin’, babe. It looks awsome on you!

    But, lovey, when the hell do I get funny??? 😉

  7. i agree with M. you have a way about you that inspires and moves people. you’re infectious. it’s truly a gift. and sometimes all it takes is a genuine, heartfelt thank you to inspire giving people like Miss J to give even more. thanks for the reminder that the soapbox comes in all sizes.

  8. Thanks Jess for these posts…I love your soapbox. I have been writing and re-writing my email blast to send to friends, family and everyone I’ve ever met to raise support and awareness for the local Autism Speaks Walk. I’m trying to be so careful with the words I choose, trying to paint a picture, educate, not be overly dramatic, not be understated. It’s always going to be hard for me to find the right words, the exact words, that I wish that everyone would understand. I just need to dive into the deep end and get the message out there. Thanks for a little push.

  9. they DID get it! I’m so overwhelmed and humbled by the generous support of our family, friends, coworkers and even strangers. In just a few days, we’ve raised $3000 – isn’t that just amazing? And more importantly, I think that we spread a little awareness far and wide. Yay! I’m on such a high I needed to share it with someone who would get it!

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