i need a bigger bumper


Bumper Sticker from Bumper Art


You know those bumper stickers? The ones that say Proud Parent of an Honor Student at Such and Such Elementary? Well, I’m thinking of making one. But mine might look a little different.

You see, I’m a really proud parent. And though there are a million directions in which I could take this regarding my daughter with autism, today this is about her sister.

You remember her right? The one that I was talking about just yesterday?

The one who I worry about. (About whom I worry?)

The one who has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen.

The one who doesn’t quite fall into step with her peers.

The one who already understands – at the tender age of ten – that running with the ‘cool’ kids isn’t always the ‘coolest’ thing to do.

The one who rails at injustice and cries for people she’s never met.

The one who came home last night to tell me that she wants to start a green thumb club so that she can encourage kids to clean up their schools and their parks.

The one who teaches me something about compassion every day.

The one whose faith is absolute.

The one who convinced her Mama that God is real.

The one who believes that through Him we are all connected.

The one whose friend’s mom’s eyes filled with tears the other day as she told me, “You know, she is the only person he is ever truly himself with.”

The one who wants to engage everyone, know everyone, make sure no one feels left out.

The one who cannot abide cruelty and never, ever finds it funny.

The one who will change the world.

The one who, in her own way, already is.

The one who came home the night before last with news.


“Mama,” she said proudly, “I got a leaf on the Tree of Kindness today!”

She was smiling from ear to ear as she thrust the piece of paper in front of me.

“Look, Mama!” she said.

I read the words and was drenched in pride.


Katie was caught in an act of kindness when

she sat with a student who didn’t have a friend at lunch.


When I asked her what had happened to prompt the leaf, she shrugged. It was just another day. A girl in her class had been sitting alone at lunch. The kind of kid we all might recognize. A kid like ours.Β 

So she’d left her table and walked over to ask if she wouldn’t mind some company. She said she wouldn’t, so she Β joined her. And they chatted.

“You know, Mama, we just ate and talked.”

“What’d ya talk about, baby?”

“Oh, ya know, stuff.”

Of course.


And so it was that one less kid in the world ate lunch alone, aΒ mother’s heart burst open with pride and I realized something. I’m going to need a much bigger bumper.

44 thoughts on “i need a bigger bumper

  1. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – that Katie is a special, special girl. You guys should team-teach a seminar in raising and being amazing children.

  2. Aww jess…thats something else u n *luau* can b ever so proud of her for. As long as shes around no one will sit alone again’ or b in a position to feel lonely. You guys have instilled in her a wonderful quality. be not only proud of her but of yourselves πŸ™‚

  3. So proud of Katie. So proud of her Mama (as I have always been). You both have and will continue to change the world.

    I love you both,

  4. Imagining the scenario in the lunchroom brought tears to my eyes. Not only do you need a bigger bumper, the school needs a bigger Tree.

  5. I have tears in my eyes. I had a “Katie” in my life when I was in school. She taught me how to come out of my shell. She taught me what true friendship is.
    The small act of kindness was in no way small. It means more than anything. And the fact that she kind of shrugged it off and said “we just ate and talked” tells me that she’s humble and a good soul.

    We need more Katies in the world.

  6. best kid ever!

    well, it’s a tie, technically, with that other super terrific kiddo of yours, but still: first is first.

    she’s a rare one, that katie, makes me feel better about the world knowing there are good humans like her out there.

    and as an added bonus, she gives great app advice.

  7. Your baby is beyond exceptional and she always has been. She reminds me of her Mama. Sort of like oak trees and acorns. She is a mixture of herself and the enviornment of love, trust, and humanity that you model for her everyday. The babies are always watching and listening, aren’t they, Jess??????????

  8. brought a huge smile to my face. When I saw her one day a while back I was with my youngest (pizza parlor boy) and she asked him if he wanted to use her toy. I forget what she had but you could tell she was truly a genuine kindhearted girl. If only the grown ups of the world would be like Katie

  9. I, too, worry about my daugther and how her brother’s diagnosis will affect her. I have finally realized that his challenges will make her a more understanding and kind person. Also, the type of girl who will go to the person sitting alone in the lunchroom and reach out to her. Perhaps we can all raise a more enlighted and kind generation than those preceeding.

  10. Debbie ~ If all kids were like Katie we would have a much better world! You should be very proud!

    Tammy ~ This post really moved me. I am always worried about my son being alone at lunch time, so to know your daughter did such an amazing thing gives me hope. πŸ™‚

    Mary ~ You know what they say about one small ripple πŸ™‚

    Sandy ~ I needed this today. THank you.

    Pam ~ can we clone her?

    Rachel ~ You have an amazing daughter.

    Carolyn ~ Have you ever heard of the starfish story? If not, check it out on my blog. That’s your Katie!

    Jessica ~ I’m so proud of her!

    Beth ~ That brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

    Shivon ~ β€Ž*tears* I know I’m saying what you already know, but she really is amazing β™₯

    Susan ~ Ok, I’m Teary! But, really, you had me at “worried”!

    Tiffany ~ I was just telling my hubby it seems the siblings of children with autism have the biggest hearts and are so accepting and kind to all kids. I know our son is.

    Tiffany ~ I love reading about both your daughters; they seem like amazing people.

    Melissa ~ I was so upset this morning to hear about another teen suicide due to bullying . If only more parents could teach compassion and raise children like Katie we’d have a much better society !

    Tracey ~ Your bumper is the size of a school bus!
    Your Katie is the kid that we all want! Would you mind very much, if I adopt her, figuratively?

    Lori ~ Thank you Katie. I’m sure you brightened that girl’s day. A well deserved leaf of recognition.

    Diary of a Mom ~ ty, guys! i am so proud of that kid. even though she was a little snot when i got home from work – though if she weren’t sometimes i’d worry. then again, i guess you all know i worry anyway. lol. and @tracey, figuratively, sure. πŸ™‚

  11. Our kids’ siblings might not have it easy now, but they are going to change the world with their kindness. Katie reminds me of my sweet middle child, who “just wants to be friends with everyone!”

  12. this word is overused, but simply… katie is extraordinary. i wish everyone who reads your blog could spend even just a few moments with her. they would know that there really is no bumper sticker big enough for her. she has touched me in ways no child ever has.

  13. This post made me cry. I just found your blog and I know almost nothing about your family, but I love your daughter. I pray that when my son is older, he will have someone in his class like her. Thank you for sharing.

  14. Very sweet story! I also felt the need to modify that honor student bumper sticker to better represent my own life– only I’m more of a “gallows humor” gal myself, so mine says: “My autistic kid will lick your honor student.”

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