When Kristine Grant heard of Mary Latham’s fabulous project “More Good,” she quickly penned this recollection. Kristine is a sometime visitor to the Towers, and, in fact, judged the Valentine’s day contest we held a few years ago. She is a well-respected marriage and family therapist and later this month will be publishing her book Relationshift:® the Right Words for what you Really Want to Say, which I had the pleasure of editing. She is also the published author of an anti-bullying workbook, Be Friendship Focused, which is referenced in her cathartic contest entry. More on Kristine later, but first, MORE GOOD! our first entry in “One-of-a-Kindness.”
by Kristine Grant
One day, I met with four 10-year-old boys to begin our first Be Friendship Focused group session. These boys were selected to participate in this group process in order to upgrade their socialization skills. Each of these youngsters was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a mild neurological disorder on the Autism Spectrum. They displayed as awkward or socially challenged; staff and students alike were annoyed by what they perceived as weird or strange habits or behaviors. Sadly, they were often rejected for no other reason than being demonstrably different from their peers.
I began our first session with a simple inquiry, which experience had taught me encourages children to share what they like about themselves: “Why would anyone want to be your friend?”
Jeffrey, a pudgy youngster with thick glasses responded, “Well, because I can play the piano.”
The boy sitting next to him, thin and missing a front tooth remarked, “And, I can play the flute!”
The student next to him chimed in, “Oh, I play the guitar.”
And, surprisingly, the last student gleefully spouted out, “Oh yeah? I have a drum set at home, and I will be a professional drummer when I grow up!”
I was certainly impressed by their shared interest for playing music and and quite naturally suggested they create their own band. At that instant, Jeffrey enthusiastically yelled out, “I can also sing!” and immediately burst into a Bruno Mars’ song, When I was your man. Without any hesitation the other three boys sang along with an impromptu, and, I might add, delightful harmony. It was wonderful! A moment that I will never forget. I applauded their innovative, creative, and quite amazing song recital; that’s when Jeffrey piped in, “Ms. Grant, meet me in the Multi Purpose Room at 2:37 today!” (School let out at 2:35).
“Why? What for?”
“Please, just be there!”
And so it was. I entered the Multi Purpose Room at the appointed time. Suddenly, the door at the back of the room burst open and Jeffrey quickly strode toward the stage, where a grand piano stood covered in cloth. He briskly removed the skirt from the piano, immediately sat down, and without even a greeting, just began playing beautiful classical music. He did not rely on any sheet music to follow. I was honored by this young boy’s natural, and brilliant performance. After about 15 minutes of this delightful concert, Jeffrey stopped playing, stood up, bowed his head and just said “Thank you, Ms. Grant,” before covering the piano with the cloth and running out the door.
It was days like these … when I was able to bear witness to the universal truth that each of us yearns to feel appreciated, acknowledged, to share what is in our heart, and ultimately desire to somehow connect, that I take the greatest pleasure in my work. Through his fearless artistry for music and song, Jeffrey shared his talent with me and influenced the BFF group to also connect under the same platform. I was so impressed with his performance that I immediately headed over to the principal’s office. The school principal, Mr. Green, was well liked and respected, and had a genuine interest in helping his students succeed. After I recounted the story of the initial BFF group session and how each member shared a common interest in music, I told Mr Green about the amazing private concert I had just witnessed in the Multi Purpose Room. As I shared this, Mr. Green sat there thoughtfully behind his desk and stroked his chin. Then he asked, “Was Jeffrey really that good?”
Then, after a long pause, Mr. Green said, “Hmmm … I know who that boy is. In fact, I have met with his mother a few times… He was really that good?” he repeated. I nodded affirmatively. I could see him fine tuning his thoughts. “They are quite poor. His mother is a single mom. I know she really struggles. … Okay, I am going to do it!”
“Do what?” I was quite puzzled by his remarks. It was then that he emphatically announced that he was going to give Jeffrey his own piano! In fact, he made plans to have it delivered to Jeffrey’s home the following weekend.
This most generous gift, prompted only by hearing about the boy playing piano and singing, truly made my day! I was told later that both Jeffrey and his mother were exceedingly pleased. Needless to say, Jeffrey was shouting and singing with glee.
Find Kristine at http://www.inspiredheartletters.com/