Whitney and I visited four different classes at Drummond Thomas Montessori School in Chicago last Wednesday morning. After I told one class that even when my eyes are open, all I see is the color black, one preschooler wondered, “Then how do you know when you’re tired?”
I can tell you this much: I’m pretty tired right now! Stimulated, too –Whitney and I traveled nearly 500 miles last week giving presentations everywhere from Central Illinois to Milwaukee, Wisconsin:
- Tuesday we were in Champaign, Ill., giving a guest lecture in an animal sciences class at the University of Illinois
- Wednesday we were at that Montessori School
- Thursday we spoke to students enrolled in a disability studies class at DePaul University here in Chicago
- Friday we took an Amtrak train to Milwaukee to give the keynote and lead a workshop for an organization called Vision Forward
That Vision Forward conference is all about kids in the public schools who are blind. Many of their parents, some grandparents, and teachers and other staff members who work with them attended the writing workshop I gave after my keynote. These folks hav a lot to say, and I hope the workshop encouraged them to get some of their thoughts down on paper. It’s amazing how therapeutic writing can be.
Oh, and about the keynote: I ended it with that seven-minute Good Stuff video. If you’ve seen What’s it Like to Go Blind? you might recall the part where there’s a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces on the screen? One mom came up afterwards to compliment the visuals and ask for the YouTube address. “We have such trouble explaining what our daughter’s vision is like,” she said. “Those missing puzzle pieces, that’s a perfect way to describe it.”
I signed books after my keynote and workshop were over, and it was no surprise that we sold more Braille copies of Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound than print ones.
While a 9-year-old who is blind waited for me to Braille my name into his book, he asked a question about Whitney’s harness. I took it off, let Simon check it out firsthand. He returned it when he was done, and before I buckled it back on, I asked, “You want to pet her?” He sure did, and Whitney wriggled and wagged and kissed Simon in return. Don’t look now, but I think we have a future guide dog user on our hands.
Whitney and I had a lot of fun and made a lot of new friends last week, and now that we’re home, you know what? Somehow, someway, even without being able to see, I know we’re both tired!