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My Early Lesson in Not Handicapping Children

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When I was about ten-years-old in St. Louis, Missouri, I used to take a shortcut through Forest Park to get to or from the public library. The park was huge and had several recreational bodies of water that were the joy of swimmers, fishermen, boaters, and ducks. One day, I happened upon a nest that contained three eggs in a marshy area of a pond. Immediately, I realized that the eggs were bird eggs because I could actually see the cracking of two of the eggs before my eyes. I watched as two chicks pecked their way towards freedom from the shells. I stayed as long as I could then rushed to the library. By the time I rushed back, the two chicks had their heads out and most of their bodies; however, the third egg only had produced a hairline crack in the shell.

It was apparent that the third chick was struggling to free itself. I waited and watched as first one chick then the other was totally freed and squeaking food. After watching with fascination for as long as I could, I had to leave for home before dark. However, before I left, I decided to help the struggling chick because it barely had made any improvement.

Very gently I used one of my fingernails to tap along the crack until it cracked open a little more. Then I gently spread it enough for the chick to get a bit of its beak out. I watched a few more minutes as the chick’s full beak and partial head, which had a green spot on its forehead, appeared before I ran as fast as I could out of the park – feeling proud of my good deed.

Several days later, I took my usual shortcut to the library and stopped by to check on the chicks. The mother duck was present and the three chicks seemed to be playing together. However, I noticed that the one with the green spot would hardly walk without falling and had a badly twisted foot. The wings on the green spotted chick also looked deformed.

When I got to the library, I told the librarian what I had witnessed. I also told her about how I helped the same chick a few days earlier. She told me that I quite possibly caused the chick’s deformity by not allowing it to escape the cocoon on its own.

In my kindness and haste, I did not understand that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the chick to spread the tiny crack was God's way of forcing strength into the body of the chick and into its wings and feet so that it would soon be ready to walk, swim, and fly once it achieved its freedom. On my way home, I went passed the mother duck and chicks again. This time all four were in the water. Mama duck swam with two of her babies swimming and paddling close behind while the green spotted chick sat trembling on her back as they went to the other side of the pond. From that experience, I decided that a parent or grandparent should not spoil any child by stepping in and rescuing them from every struggle because it renders him or her effectively handicap. God allows challenges in young lives for a reason.

Website: www.richardojoneslive.com

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