You’ll Be Good for Him

You’ll Be Good for Him

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

You’ll Be Good for Him

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.

~Ambrose Redmoon

I heard the rhythmic clatter of metal crutches coming down the hallway. I looked up to see ten-year-old Brian smiling at me in the doorway, his blond hair tousled. Every day, Brian arrived at school cheerful and ready to work.

Brian had a great sense of humor and loved his own jokes. He was my first “handicapped” student. Everyone who worked with Brian told me, “You’ll be good for him.”

Brian worked with the adaptive physical education teacher and swam three mornings a week. He kept a busy school-day schedule. Everything he did required more effort than it did for the other students.

One day, Brian agreed to talk to the class about his handicap. The students liked Brian and wondered what he did after school. He told them that he watched a lot of TV, or played with his dog. Brian felt proud to be a Cub Scout and enjoyed being a member.

The students then asked him why he used different paper and a special magnifying lens and lamp when he read. Brian explained that he had a tracking problem, and that he could see better out of one eye than the other. “I’m going to have another eye operation,” he said casually. “I’m used to it. I’ve already had six operations.” He laughed nervously, adjusting his thick-lens glasses. Brian had already had two hip surgeries, two ankle surgeries and two eye surgeries.

Brian explained how he’d been trained to fall when he lost his balance, so that he wouldn’t hurt himself. I felt badly when he fell, but he didn’t fuss. I admired his fortitude.

He said he often felt left out, then somebody asked if people ever made fun of him. He replied that he’d been called every name you could think of, but that he usually tried to ignore it.

I asked Brian if he ever became discouraged.

“Well, to tell you the truth,” he said, “I do. Sometimes I get really mad if I can’t do something. Sometimes I even cry.”

At this point I ended the discussion. I felt the important questions had been answered. The students applauded.

“Can you walk at all without your crutches?” one of the boys shouted.

“Yeah,” he said shyly.

“Would you like to walk for us?” I asked him gently.

“Yeah! Come on, Brian. You can do it!” several students shouted.

“Well — I guess,” he answered reluctantly.

Brian removed his crutches and balanced himself. He proceeded to walk awkwardly across the room. “I look like a drunk,” he muttered. It wasn’t smooth, but Brian walked on his own. Everyone clapped and shouted.

“That’s great, Brian!” I placed my hand on his shoulder.

Brian laughed nervously while I had to hold back tears. His honesty and courage touched me. I then realized that maybe I wasn’t as good for Brian as he was good for me — for all of us.

~Eugene Gagliano

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