The Parrot with the Blue Spot on its Head

May 15, 2008
By Melissa Spiegel, Fort Collins, CO

It was pouring down rain outside. I was sitting on my bed staring at my leopard poster hanging on the wall, and obsessing over the fact that I wouldn't be able to go to the local water park that day (as my family and neighbors had planned) because of the weather. It was kind of ironic, really, that the only thing standing between the water park and me was water. Thinking about this, I flicked a pen across my room in despair. Just then my older brother (by one year), who is mentally disabled, walked through the door.
"It raining!" he said. But he didn't say it with the slightest hint of disappointment in his voice; he actually seemed a bit excited. I sat up in bed straighter, puzzled by his reaction.
"It's a pity, isn't it?" I said. "I was really looking forward to going to Water Mania today."
"But we have a Water Mania in our own backyard!" he said. Then his eyes went wide, and I hoped he wasn't thinking what I thought he was. "Hey, we could go play in the rain!" he exclaimed.
And, before I could protest, he was grabbing my arm and leading me downstairs and out the back door, grinning as big as ever. Once outside, he immediately spread out his arms and began to spin around. I, on the other hand, stood in the grass trying to keep myself dry with my jacket. I was wondering how I had let him con me into doing this --- why I hadn't even thought to grab an umbrella on the way out ---, when my brother stopped spinning and studied me for a second.
"You not having fun," he said. Then a smile appeared on his face. "Here, grab my arms!" he insisted. So I did this ---
reluctantly, I admit --- and he began to whirl me around in circles. At first I just went through the motions, but then I decided that if there was some hidden reward to being out in the pouring rain, then I was going to find out what it was. So I let go of my annoyance at having soaked clothes, of my frustration at not being able to go to Water Mania, and of my thoughts of how to avoid getting the floor wet when I went inside, and tried to live in the moment. And, surprisingly, I began to enjoy myself. The rain no longer bothered me; rather, it felt refreshing, and it was absolutely exhilarating to be spinning around, going faster and faster with each turn. When my brother and I fell onto the cold grass, laughing, I told my brother what I thought of it. "This is no Water Mania," I said. "It's even better!" My brother amazes me.


Last week, I didn't look my best. I had just gotten a bad permanent, and I had a pimple in the very center of my nose. Christine, a girl who enjoys teasing people, made a comment about how much I resembled Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. I tried to ignore her, but throughout the day I couldn't help dwelling on what she said, wondering why I couldn't have gotten a zit during the weekend instead of then. After school, my brother came over to me.
"Why do you look sad?" he asked.
"Christine made fun of the pimple on my nose today," I said. "It's her way of calling me ugly."
"The pimple don't matter," he said. "If you had many, many, many pimples, you'd still be beautiful."
I tried to understand what he was saying. "What do you mean?" I asked.
"Well, you would be the same person if you did, my sister with a big, big, big heart," he explained, talking slowly. My brother amazes me.


Back when I was six years old, my brother and I were finger painting at a daycare center. We had brought our stuffed animals with us (mine, a bunny; his, a parrot), and were holding them in our laps as we made our "artwork." We had almost finished our pictures, when I saw my brother knock over his cup of blue paint, causing it to spill all over the head of his parrot. Knowing how much my brother loved his toy, I felt tremendously sorry for him, and wondered whether I should give him one of my own stuffed animals when we got home. But when I looked over at him, he didn't seem very sad at all. As a matter of fact he began to laugh, and I joined in. Later, I asked him why he didn't feel bad that he had spilt paint on his parrot.
"It awesome now!" he said. I understood what he meant. He thought it was even more special now that it had a blue spot on its head, that the blue spot made it a one-of-a-kind.
And now that I think about it, my brother's disability, much like the blue spot, isn't something which should be viewed negatively at all; it simply makes him different. All my life people have considered my brother to be hopeless, to not be capable of ever becoming someone great, and yet, I know that he is someone great right now. It puzzles me how people can think he knows nothing, when in fact he taught me all of the important things I know today. He taught me to appreciate the little things in life and to be more concerned with inner beauty than with outer beauty, and, for all this, I know that I couldn't have asked for a better brother than the one I have right now.

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