Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Camp Re-cap

I didn't post all the pictures from Camp No Limits last January. Life and these kids make putting pictures into albums almost impossible. Here is our album that's now on it's way to us... almost 9 months later. :) Enjoy!
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Thursday, September 4, 2014

And so it begins...

Bella asked me to talk with her class. So the next day, I emailed her teacher. She was right on board and welcomed me to come to class THE NEXT DAY. As a mother, with my first child, who happens to be a beautiful girl, who happens to be smart and kind hearted, who just so happened to be born a little different, I'm learning as I go. Even with the second kid and the third one, I'm still learning. Being a parent is no joke! The pay is not in cash money but in hugs, tears and kisses instead. I'm learning, I'm growing, she's learning and growing too. One thing is for sure, we are all in this together, united we stand.

Today, I braved the crowd of twenty-something kindergarteners and one teacher (who has been doing this for 20+ years). I was nervous, my stomach hurt, my heart ached. Would I say the right things? Would they understand what I was telling them? Would they understand her difference and her abilities? I hoped, I prayed, I crossed my fingers and I went for it.

I sat on the floor with Bella by my side and my arm around her as I talked.

"Who has seen the movie Finding Nemo?" *everyone raised their hand except one.

"You seriously haven't seen Finding Nemo?" I asked him.
"Oh yeah, I have" he replied. Wake up little guy, I thought, you've only been here for 30 minutes.

"So who can tell me what's different about Nemo?" Many raised their hands with responses "He has stripes", "He's orange", "his brain doesn't work the same way as ours" (To which the teacher responded, um yes it does, I think you've got that part a little wrong), "OH I know, I know, he has a big flipper and a little flipper"

"Great job guys! You are all right! Now, who noticed something a little different about Bella?" Again, hands raised and responses started "She has blond hair!", "She has one hand and all of the rest of us have two!" "She's the only kid in the class with one hand!"

"You guys are all right! Way to go!"

I went on to explain that she was born that way. That when she was in my belly her hand never grew and it was just the way she was born. She could do everything that they did but she sometimes did them different. Then I said each of us do things a little different because that's the way we were made, all different. Some have blond hair or brown hair, green eyes, brown eyes... I explained that she can cut paper, write her name, get dressed by herself, hold hands, play play dough. I showed them how we held her right hand and then how we held her left hand and said "See it's just a little bit different but she can still hold your hands!" I explained that it doesn't hurt her or bother her at all and it's nothing to be scared of at all. There's nothing scary about it. It's no big deal! Then I let them ask questions.

"How can she play play dough?" One girl asked.

"Hmm... how do you play play dough anyways?" I looked at her. She showed them how she rolled things with her left hand and pressed down with her left hand.

"How come she has that little ball on her hand?" I explained that would have been where her thumb was but it never grew so it's just a little ball that doesn't bother her or hurt her or do anything.

"How does she cut paper if she can't hold the paper?" Again, I looked at her and said "How do you cut paper?" And she showed them that she holds the scissors in her right hand and uses her left hand to hold the paper down.

"But she can't trace her right hand because she can't hold a pencil with her other hand"
"You are right, but I bet someone could help her... who do you think could help her?"
"A grown up"
"The teacher."
"Or a FRIEND could help her too" Her teacher piped in. They liked that idea!

"What if we hold her hand too tight?" I told them that she would tell him, "won't you?" I asked her.
"Yep, I will" Bella said.

The end... well almost. It was short and sweet and only a little bit overwhelming for me. She seemed to be very happy that I was there and that we talked about it.

From one parent to another, do what's best for your child, whatever that may be. It was best for us to tell her that we could talk to her class if she wanted. She said no initially and that's A-ok! Then a day later, she changed her ming. That's ok too. For us and our family, that was what was best.

As parents, we consistently struggle with doing what's best and what's right and worry about being judged. I'm here to tell you, YOU are doing a great job! Your child may not be able to tell you that, but you are! Congratulations, you've made it! The sleepless nights are worth it. The tiny soap eating monster at my house, he's worth it. The little lover boy that "nuggles" is worth it too. The days I spent standing up wondering how much longer I could stand and bounce my tiny baby girl to sleep, they were worth it too. It's hard work. It's no joke, it's the thunder dome baby! You've got this! We've got this! We are all in it together!

Kindergarten day one

The first day went off without a hiccup. Ryan, Grayson, Luca and I took Bella to school and walked her down the hall and into her class. As her mom, I could tell she was nervous.

"Hold my hand!"

"Hold my hand TIGHTER!"

She walked into the school hand in hand with Daddy and Grayson and I carried Luca. She was dressed in a beautiful outfit her Tutu bought that had a bright yellow tutu and a white top with ruffles on the sleeves and a big bright flower on the front, her hair in pigtails. Where had our baby gone? Who was this big girl walking into school?

We walked into the classroom and got settled. Unloaded her backpack and hung it on her hook, sat the treats for the class on the table and got her situated in her seat with the other 3 littles waiting at her table. We kissed her goodbye...

"Wait I need to go potty!"
"Come in here with me!"
"Adults can't come into the kid bathroom, we'll wait right here for you and we won't leave" said her Daddy.
"Don't worry honey, we'll be right here when you come out," I told her.About 12 seconds later the door opened to an unflushed toilet.
"You have to flush. Did you wash your hands?" Daddy asked.
"No, don't leave!"
"We won't but you have to flush and wash" he told her. Once again she got settled back at her seat. Daddy hugged and kissed her and so did I. 

"Just one more hug and kiss mom" and I proceeded to hug and kiss her and take a picture.
"Ok... no wait, ONE more!" once again, I kissed and hugged her. I held back the tears. We blew kisses from the door way with well wishes "Have a great day, we'll be waiting for you at the bus stop!" Down the hall the four of us walked. What a lonely day I would have without my girl, I thought. My heart raced, my eyes welled up. Please God, don't let me cry until I get outside, I begged. My feet hit the blacktop of the parking lot and tears rolled down my cheeks. How could I just leave her? With a stranger! Ryan poked fun "You're going to get dehydrated!" Tears continued to roll. Then the ugly cry.

"Are you sad Mama?" Grayson asked me.
"No honey, I'm happy for her. She's going to have lots of fun. I just miss her already"
"When is Bella coming back?" He asked

"When school is over, after naps for you" I told him. Many times that day I heard the same question "when is Bella coming home?" and I replied the same way each time.

Then up the driveway she strolled. Her bus was EARLY! We completely missed her getting off the bus at the end of the street, our neighbor, who happens to be her best buds dad, got her off the bus with his daughter and walked them both home. OMG Seriously? Parent fail!!

Her favorite part of the day: Riding the bus with Hannah and the "Totally awesome playground"
Her least favorite part of the day: Leaving us

As I tucked her into bed that night, we talked at length about her day. She said "Mom, I think it's a good idea if you do come to my class and talk. The kids ask lots of questions about my hand and I get tired of it. Maybe you should come tell them like tomorrow". I explained that I would talk to her teacher and see what day worked best for her and the class to have time to listen.

"One kid was a little scared, Mom. He said my little hand was scary" I assured her that it wasn't scary, that it was just new to him, like he was new to her. He was learning about her. He didn't know how she was born different and I bet there were different things about him that she would learn about too. I assured her that people just had to ask questions to learn and I would tell him not to be scared. She was perfect and I would tell him that, I promised.

TO BE CONTINUED... 

On being thankful...

Each November I try to write on Facebook some of the many reasons I am thankful. This November started out with a bang. So far it went like ...