John Dear Duckie

John Dear Duckie parked the tractor in the big red barn and tossed his hat onto the hook by the door. It landed with a gentle thunk. A perfect shot! He picked up his pitchfork and surveyed the rolling green summer fields where corn, alfalfa, and grain grew in lines.

He waddled through the farm, carefully walking a wide circle around all the haystacks. John Dear hated the way it felt when hay touched his feet and legs. It was itchy and pokey, a terribly uncomfortable distraction. At least the farm’s two milk cows, Judy Cutie and Josie Darling, knew he didn’t prefer their loud mooing and instead offered him friendly waves. He returned with a big duckie-bill smile and tossed them some corn cobs for a special treat. It was good to have friends who considered the way he felt and included him happily.

Life on a farm was always interesting: baby pigs were born, corn grew from tiny seeds to towering stalks, and fascinating bugs landed in the flower garden.  But sometimes, it was challenging for a special duckie like John Dear, who lived with a sensory processing disorder.

Every year, John Dear’s sister Jenny Honey and their parents left a square open and unplanted into the middle of one of their fields and built what they called “A Field of Dreams.” It was a baseball diamond, complete with a wide outfield area after harvest. All the duckies from town came and played a huge game each fall, but they cheered so loud that John Dear couldn’t have fun. The dust from the dry dirt blew up into his face and made him itchy, the pants had elastic that bit into the feathers at his waist, and the baseball glove made his wingtip clammy and sticky.

All the other children encouraged him to play, but John Dear decided he was destined to only see baseball from afar. John Dear’s Daddy, Joe Sugar, however, was determined to give him an opportunity to participate.

On the morning of the big game, Jenny Honey went out and hosed down the dirt with water so it would be damp and not blow up in the wind. John Dear felt encouraged when he waddled up and saw no dusty clouds swarming around the infield. He felt loved that his sister wanted him to be included.

Next, Coach Jamie Princess showed him that they’d added a soft, flexible waistband to his uniform pants. The elastic didn’t bend his feathers anymore! It felt nice that she’d done that for him because she wanted him to play. She even said there was a special position he could play called the “DDH” which mean ‘Duckie Designated Hitter,’ so he didn’t even have to wear a glove! He could just take a turn batting in the lineup.

Finally, John Dear’s mother handed him a present. Inside was a pair of noise-cancelling headphones like his Occupational Therapist had in her office. John Dear tried them out by asking Judy Cutie and Josie Darling to moo right beside him. To his delight, the headphones worked! He could hear the mooing without feeling overwhelmed.

John Dear was delighted to discover that batting was fun! He hit a single in the second inning, but struck out in the fifth. Still, he was excited when he came to bat again in the ninth and final inning! He tipped the first pitch foul, into the stands, and everyone let out a yell. The noise startled him, but he took a moment to breathe deeply and practice some coping skills. After adjusting his headphones, John Dear felt confident in giving it another swing. He walked back to the batter’s box and gave another swing. Strike. Another pitch, and John Dear connected with a thunk back to left field. He touched first base and made it all the way to second. It was a double!

John Dear looked around and saw his parents waving their arms in a silent cheer. From third base, Jenny Honey offered him an air-high-five and Coach Jaime Princess gave him two wingtips-up. Living on a farm wasn’t so bad when everyone worked together to make this place truly “A Field of Dreams” for everyone!