ep-header

A Season of Gratitude and Thankfulness: Small Town Charm

A Season of Gratitude and Thankfulness:  Small Town Charm

Living in a town with a population of less than 2,000 people has its challenges. Sometimes I’d give anything for pizza delivery, and I get frustrated that the nearest Kohl’s is three hours away. There are days when I wish I could just go and buy milk without seeing someone I know.

Still, there are benefits to living in a small community. There’s no mail delivery in my hometown, but if I forget the keys to my post office box, the postmaster will happily retrieve my mail for me without even having to ask for my name or box number.

The town I live in has no stop lights, but there is an emergency signal. There’s also a grocery store, three churches, a couple of restaurants and the county fairgrounds. When I moved to this town to take a teaching job 23 years ago I didn’t think I would stay forever, but I met my husband, we started a family, built a house and put down roots here.

Lately I’ve been feeling especially thankful to be raising my kids in a small town, especially my eight year-old son, Lewis, who has Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. All it takes is a trip around town to remind me why I am glad we live here.

Lewis loves to go to the grocery store. As soon as we enter Lewis looks for the store owner, Mr. Bill, who always picks him up and hugs him. Then Lewis pushes his kid-size cart through the store as we pick out our groceries. Sometimes when I think he’s following behind me I turn around to find that he’s run off to see one of the employees, who greets him by name. We stop at the deli, where kids get a free cookie, and Mr. Bill comes around to help us out when we are done. He makes sure to put something light in a bag for Lewis so he can help carry the groceries to the car.

In the parking lot, and really anywhere we go in town, it’s common to hear kids’ voices calling out, “It’s Lewis! Hi, Lewis!” We joke that he is a celebrity here.

My kids attend school in the local school district, which has a total student population of less than 500. What it lacks in size it makes up for in small class sizes and dedicated teachers.

Lewis started in the district’s inclusive preschool program shortly after his third birthday, and he has gone to school with his typical peers ever since. There was never any question about it. All kids are included, with para-professional support when needed, because there is no self-contained classroom option. It has brought Lewis a level of acceptance that I never could have imagined.

Last month Lewis rode his adaptive tricycle in the homecoming parade, and in December he’ll be on stage with his classmates for the holiday program. He may not be able to sing many of the words, but he’ll be rocking side-to-side to the rhythm of the music, and everyone will clap for him.

Living in a Small Town has advantages and disadvantages, but it has brought Lewis a level of inclusion and acceptance that I never could have imagined. At least that’s the way it feels to this proud and thankful mom.

 

 

Editor’s Note:  As we move through this journey of parenting our sons and daughters, we are thankful for those parents who have come before us and those who walk beside us!  The efforts of Parent to Parent of Colorado are sustained by your involvement and donations from our community. 

Please help us Celebrate 20 years of supporting parents by making your contribution to https://www.coloradogives.org/P2PCO

 

 

 

Carrie Kleckler is a P2P Mom who lives in northwest Colorado with her husband and three children. Her youngest son has Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder. Carrie recently returned to teaching after 11 years as a stay-at-home mom, and is now working with preschoolers with special needs. She is the volunteer facilitator for the Northwest Colorado Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Down Syndrome Association, and she blogs about her parenting experiences at www.yourseamisshowing.wordpress.com.
 

 

 

 

801 Yosemite Street   |   Denver, CO 80230   |   303.691.9339   |   info@abilityconnectioncolorado.org