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It is hard to imagine being in a delivery room, and having no reason not to think that the baby would be fine. But it happened. Justin was born ten years ago with a cleft lip and palate. For anyone who has a child born with a birth defect, you know that it takes years of surgery, a resistant insurance company, searches for answers as to "why" and a final surrender to acceptance. This happened to our family. Because Justin always seemed to go with the flow, being the 2nd of four children, and was not a complainer, there was that wondering as to whether he had private fears and feelings that he had not expressed. A week ago, school ended for the summer, and Justin will have his second to last surgery this summer—a bone graft from his hip to his upper maxilla that anchors his teeth. A new tooth will be implanted. He has been in braces for over a year and will be in braces for several years. When we went to the open house at the school last week, his teacher told us privately that Justin has leaped from 1st grade to 4th in this past year. He has always been against some wall that he couldn't break through, his teacher explained. Then, he wrote a story. His teacher handed us the story he had written and said, "This says a lot." He is ready for 4th grade.

Justin's story: CODY'S CANDY

A boy named Cody was a normal boy who lived with his parents. Cody didn't like to go to school, because people made fun of him. Nobody believed whatever he said. He was in the third grade and he was very smart too. He got on the bus every morning to go to school and everyone would start to make fun of him. When he got on the bus he didn't make fun of the other people. When he would finally get to school and get to his classroom the kids would start to make fun of him in the classroom too. Six long hours would pass till he could go home.

One day after school his dad said he had to go and get some wood. " Do you want to come with me?" asked his dad.

Cody said, "yes".

They finally got to Home Depot. While looking around the store an old man came out of nowhere. The old man was handing out seeds and gave some to Cody. The old man told Cody to plant them in his garden. Then he disappeared before Cody could say a word. Cody took the seeds and showed them to his dad. His dad just looked at the seeds and smiled a funny smile. Soon he and his dad got the wood and went home.

Cody asked his dad if he could help him plant the seeds. Together they planted the seeds in the backyard. Cody thought they would grow right away. Cody's dad said the seeds need water and sun to help them grow. So Cody got the seeds some water. There was already sun, Cody thought. His dad said, "now we have to wait." So they waited and waited. They waited 2 hours. Cody's dad finally went inside. But not Cody! He still waited and waited.

Cody waited 5 more hours. Finally he went inside and went to bed. The next morning he looked at the spot where he had planted the seeds. Still nothing happened. So he went to school and told all the kids in his class. They didn't believe Cody. The day passed like all the rest LONG. He saw the kids laughing at him but this time he did not care. He knew what he saw and he just knew something great was going to happen. Finally it was time for Cody to go home. When Cody got home his dad told him to go out back and look in the garden. He ran back to the garden. He could not believe what he saw. There was a tree right where he had planted the seeds. The tree had something hanging on it. Cody could smell the candy hanging off the tree. His tree was a candy tree. He wanted to pull some of the candy off the tree but they would not come off.

He kept pulling as hard as he could until it finally came off with a "pop". Cody grabbed the candy and ate it all up. He looked where the candy had been and laughed. The candy had grown back.

Cody went to school and shared the candy with all the kids on the bus and in his class. He told them where he got the candy. They liked the candy but still did not believe him. He told them to come to his house and he could prove the whole story.

The next day Cody jumped out of bed. He got dressed and went to the living room where he looked outside and saw all the kids from the school at the front door. He knew why they were there he could not wait to prove to them about his candy tree. Everybody liked his candy tree and they thought he was nice to share with them. Some of the kids that had hurt him so much said they would not be mean anymore.

Cody was worried that if the tree stopped growing candy he would lose all of his new friends. He soon noticed that since the kids had gotten to know him they included him in games and listened to him even if he did not bring candy to school.

Cody never saw the old man again but he took good care of the tree and when he grew up he made a business out of the candy tree. He sold candy by the box with a picture of the old man and the tree. He named his company Cody's Candy.


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