Things I Have Learned From Johnny
2001 Teresa Kellerman

Since I have learned more from my three kids than any teacher, I have to say they are my favorite teachers. And I have learned more about FAS from John than from any expert. After I wrote these things, I wondered at the difference in my attitude toward John from when he was an impossible two year old. I remember sitting in a foster parent training class, where the instructor was telling us to look for the good things in our kids, the attributes they inherited from their parents, and to make them aware of those positive gifts. At this time I was drenched deeply in anger at John's birth mother, and I raised my hand and asked, "What if there are no positive things?" I can't believe now that I felt that way then. But the instructor helped me see that John had inherited a head of shiny black hair, and golden brown skin, and a sweet contagious smile. Looking over this list of things about John, I realize they are all positive, but that they can have a negative side as well, on which I had focused way too much. I hope this list helps you see the special gifts in some other child.

Things I have learned from John:

How to live in the moment. Each day is a new day. Forget the past. Don't worry too much about the future. Anticipate whatever is coming your way. Spontaneity happens automatically and "Carpe Diem" is the natural rule.

How to forgive. Never hold a grudge, it's not worth the energy, even when you have energy to spare. Being forgetful and living in the moment helps one to "forgive and forget."

How to perceive each person as an equal. It doesn't matter if you are mayor or a homeless person, as an individual you have the same worth as each other member of the human race.

How to hug with abandon. When you greet an acquaintance, you can treat them like a long-lost friend, and watch their face light up.

How to get the most out of music appreciation by really getting into the rhythm and the feel of the beat. It helps if you let out a few Whoops when it feels right.

How to express emotions without playing those silly head games that some people play. Share feelings openly, no guessing about what's in your heart or on your mind, because you wear your heart on your sleeve and your mind is an open book. Let it all hang out, Baby!

How to dream, with rich fantasies of the best things in life. John has already realized his fantasies of having a waterbed, a drum set, his own power tools, and a dog. Maybe someday he'll live out his dreams of having a pretty woman to love and of traveling to Scotland to explore the castles and hear the bagpipes.

How to trust without suspicions, to accept gifts and compliments with an open heart and mind. To accept people for who and what they are, without the illusion of false expectations or presumptuous judgment.

How to laugh - at life, at our peculiar circumstances, at ourselves - with pure, simple joy.

How to get lost in play. No matter how old you are, there is still a little child inside, waiting to explore the world, to be silly, to be held close, to be loved.

How to enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with banana slices inside.

How to love and be loved unconditionally, no strings attached.

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