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HE CALLS ME MAMA
By Kathleene S. Baker
When playtime rolls around, Chance Armstrong prefers painting far and above any toys or other activities. At two years of age, he recently had his first art exhibit at City Arts in Wichita, Kansas. With the proceeds, he and his single mother aim for a noteworthy goal-earning enough that Chance can enroll in Dolphin Therapy in Florida. Said therapy has proven to be quite beneficial for children with special needs, but it is costly.
Chance was named before his birth not knowing how fitting it would be. Born after only 28 weeks of gestation, Chance faced the grim possibility of not surviving-as did his mother. When preeclampsia struck, their fate rested in the hands of God.
Mom remained in intensive care for 10 anxiety-ridden days while her tiny son struggled to live. After three months in Neonatal Intensive Care the very fragile infant went home, but each day that passed was filled with uncertainty. The doctors had been straightforward about Chance's future. He faced the probability of numerous health problems: mental retardation, cerebral palsy, blindness, deafness, and cystic fibrosis, to name only a few. Soon, two additional obstacles were thrown in his path-the need for kidney and heart surgery. Inexplicably, Change dodged all of these maladies!
Chance keeps a hectic schedule with various physical therapy appointments-a total of seven each week. Visits with his doctors are all too frequent. After being told he would never crawl, he does crawl, even though he lags behind others his age. His vocabulary is limited but continues to grow. When I last saw Chance he was giving high fives like they were going out of style! With this little boy's determination and progress to date, hopes are high for all he is yet to achieve. Despite the monumental challenges that have been encountered thus far, Chance fills his mom's life with love, light and joy.
What makes finger painting (and sometimes toes) so stimulating to this youngster? Is it the slick feel of the paint or is he intrigued with color? Is it both? Even though he has not yet learned his colors, Mom can now decipher which one he is asking for; he is quite finicky about which hues go into each design he produces. They've spent countless hours creating works of art and have developed a system that works seamlessly. Chance giggles and his bright eyes dance with every new masterpiece, and he only stops when Mom says its bath time. Each art session leaves him smeared and smudged-sporting a rainbow of colors from head to toe, a near duplicate of the canvas just completed. And, Mom doesn't fare much better!
When being interviewed before the art exhibit, Mom made a beautiful statement about her son: Many people go their entire lifetime without ever meeting one of their heroes; I am truly blessed and honored that my hero calls me mama!
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