Seeing life the right way

“It must be an issue with her left eye.” Shaina’s teachers and therapists all seemed to be in agreement.

We had been sitting in Leah, the school principal’s office. Being called into the principal’s office is daunting for a child. It is overwhelming to be there to hear an assessment of your special needs child’s progress. No matter how much love and kindness they share- and Shaina’s team fiercely loves her- you know they will have to share uncomfortable truths.

Leah knows how these meetings go. She had a box of tissues ready on the table. Regardless of the positive feedback, discussing Shaina’s development and progress always pendulums our emotions from grief to euphoria to sadness to pride. Friday’s feedback meeting was one of our best ever. Thank G-d!

We heard about her improved fine and gross motor skills, her focused participation in class, and how she now uses more words. I had a lump in my throat when her teacher pulled out a drawing of a rainbow Shaina had coloured in. She had correctly identified each colour and coloured within the lines- things we had never seen before. Principal Leah wants a copy of her artwork to frame for her office. We were delighted to learn that Shaina will be promoted next year to pre-grade.

There was only one concern shared at the meeting. Shaina’s left eye. Her speech therapist brought it up. Many of the exercises she does with Shaina involve selecting and sorting cards or toys. Shaina is now a pro at rearranging story blocks into chronological sequences. She aces selecting the correct objects when instructed. As long as it’s to her right. Place any of the items on her left side, and she ignores them.

One by one, the other team members echoed that Shaina performs better when oriented to the right. She seems to miss whatever’s on her left side.

We weren’t surprised. If you know Shaina well, you won’t be either. Shaina has always had issues with her left eye. When she’s tired or upset, that eye rolls back. At the best of times, her left eye travels. On Shaina’s long list of “ists” is her opthalmologist- and she’s due for a checkup.

“I totally get why Shaina’s left eye is weak,” Principal Leah interrupted our mental note to schedule an eye appointment.

“It’s like that story when the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe was a child and asked his father why G-d created us with two eyes. His father replied that the right eye is the eye of kindness. You use that eye to look at others. The left is the critical eye, and that should only be used to look at yourself”.

Leah didn’t have to explain; we all got it. Shaina doesn’t have a critical eye. She sees only the good in others, her world and herself. Her critical eye is weak. Knowing Shaina, I’m guessing that will always be her weaker eye. It’s yet another example of how she is the teacher- see the world through your right eye. Ah, if only the vision in my left eye was as blurry as in hers.

Published by rabbiarishishler

Husband, father and rabbi of Chabad of Strathavon in Johannesburg, South Africa.

One thought on “Seeing life the right way

  1. So special and beautiful, just like Shaina herself. She chose so wisely when she chose you both as her parents. She is here to teach us all so much. Hashem’s richest blessings always

    Liked by 1 person

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