Monday, August 31, 2015

I see you staring...

In one way, I get it, people stare, they are curious and not sure what to say or do. When it's kids, I'm more understanding. Kids are growing and curious. It's our job as adults to educate them, to talk to them about why they are staring and get them engaged. I find myself often saying "Hi, I'm Sarah, Bella's mom, how are you?" Usually it pulls the child's attention away from my child and onto me. Usually that's when I get "What happened to her hand?" My response is always "She was just born that way. What questions do you have about it?" Sometimes kids ask more questions and sometimes that's the end of the conversation.

Today is Bella's last day before starting first grade. We went on an adventure to a park she loves that's about 30 minutes from home. We packed lunch and were ready to enjoy our day. The kids were all playing and I could tell by Bella's face she wasn't comfortable. I stayed close by. I noticed the same thing she noticed, four little girls staring and pointing. I asked her if she played with the girls yet. She hadn't. I asked if she wanted to, "Kind of", she said. "Go ask them to play!" I tried to sound excited. She didn't want to. She never ended up playing with them. I talked to them for a few minutes, no one mentioned her hand. I didn't either. Maybe I should have...

A bit later, we ate lunch and were back to playing. My senses may have been a bit heightened. I may have been a bit on edge. I saw a grandma of two little girls staring and pointing while talking to the grandpa. I approached her, Bella came with. The grandma shoed the girls off to do something else. I wanted to say "I SAW YOU STARING!!" I wanted to educate her. I wanted to get angry. I wanted to ask her how she would feel if someone was staring and pointing at her or one of her granddaughters. I didn't. My goal is never to isolate my child, so I didn't say anything. If Bella had not been standing next to me, I would have said something nicely. Instead, I let it go.

My feelings were hurt for my child. Not only does she encounter curious children. She encounters adults who are idiots. Adults think she doesn't have attentive parents that are watching what they are doing. Adults who think that staring is okay. My feelings were hurt for me too. How could another adult be so insensitive? I'm learning every day how to be a better mother. Motherhood is no joke. It's not for the weak or wimpy. It's a challenge every.single.day. Sometimes I rock the shit out of it, sometimes I fall flat into the mud, sometimes I'm in quick sand all day.

Bella kept wanting to leave but wouldn't tell me why or wouldn't talk more about anything. I asked her why, how she was feeling, what was going on, she refused to answer. She is her mother's daughter for sure. We stayed, we played. Along came a little girl in a white tank top. She was a third grader she told Bella. She and about 5 other kids played a congo line on a tight rope, Bella and both boys played too. She was kind and friendly. Bella didn't want to leave. She was having fun with this little girl who took charge.

I walked over to a group of mother's and asked which one was her mother. One said "Oh no, me why?" I told her of our morning and I commended her for raising a child that included all of the kids of all ages in her play. I told her how Bella's attitude changed because of her child. She thanked me and we talked a bit more. She, like me, is a mom of three. She has good days and bad days she said. I told her I just wanted her to know she was doing a great job. We enjoyed chatting until our kids interrupted her. I felt good about commending another mother. Motherhood is no joke. It's a challenge every.single.day.

Friday, August 28, 2015

"That's cool"

The same day we were at the park and the incident happened, something positive also happened. Bella had been playing with the girl who was scared and another little girl came up.

"What happened to your hand?" she asked.

"I was born this way" Bella responded

"That's cool!" she said and her and Bella went to play...

Just like that something negative had happened and then this happened. I try to be more of an observed and let my kids handle situations on their own. Then if I need to, I can step in.

As we loaded into the car, Bella said "Mom a girl at the park called my hand COOL and that's NEVER happened before, it was AWESOME! That's the first time anyone has every said my hand was cool!"

"Wow, seriously?! that is AWESOME! " I looked back from the front seat with a smile. I was fighting the tears. This little girl had no idea how she made my daughter feel. She had no idea that she left a print on my daughter's soul that will forever remain. I wanted to get out of the car and hug that girl but instead I drove away with music playing. Bella had the biggest smile on her face.

As we tucked her into bed that night, she mentioned the little girl who called her hand cool. "Mom that was so awesome that she thought my hand was cool. No one has ever said that before!" We talked about how it made her feel and how the little girl thought she was cool because she was different. She went to bed smiling and thinking about her positive experience at the park.

Life is funny like that. I constantly try to remind myself that I don't know the battle that others are fighting and sometimes saying hello or smiling could make someone else's day. This little girl made my Bella's day!

*Stay tuned for more to come on us fundraising for a little guy named BRANDON to go to Camp No Limits*

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Back seat blogger

I have no excuses, only reality. We've had an insanely busy summer and the blog for Bella has taken a back seat. I'm a mom first and foremost. I'm also a pediatric nurse, a clinical instructor, a full time graduate student, a wife, a dog owner, a crafter... wait I was a crafter... well anyhow, it's been busy! I'll catch you up on the rest of that stuff later!

Bella starts first grade in one week. We had a meet the teacher night tonight and I loved her teacher. I'm excited that she is in class with some of her best buds. I'm thrilled that she's over the moon about going back to school, learning more and seeing her friends again.... her words, not mine! Her first grade teacher said her kindergarten teacher described her as "super confident and does everything the other kids do". I loved her kindergarten teacher too. Kindergarten went off without a hitch, no major issues with her limb difference camp up. Her first grade teacher and I decided it would be best for me to come chat with the class the first or second week of school. I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe I could video it if anyone is interested. Let me know what you all need and want!

This summer was great, busy and hot and just the way we like it. I'll fill you in on all of that soon, promise! I do want to share an experience we had at the park just this week while it's fresh in my head. We went to a local park that we frequent and there was another family there, a mom and dad and two girls, ages 8 and 4. I said hi and we all went on our way playing. The boys climbing a giant spider web thing and Bella heading for the balance beam. Less than five minutes passed and Bella went to ask the older girl "Do you want to play with me?"

The girl covered her face and crunched up her eyes and didn't say anything.

Bella repeated "Do you want to play with me?"

The girl continued and up popped the mom. "Honey what's wrong?"

"I'm scared of... I'm scared... I'm scared of her hand" said the 8 year old.

"You don't have to play with her if you are scared of her" the mom said as she walked away with her child.

I stood by. What I really want to do was throat punch the mom for not taking the opportunity to teach her child about differences and that there was no reason to be frightened or afraid. It's not like Bella was going to hurt her or the girl could catch a disease from her. For the love of Pete, TEACH YOUR CHILD lady! Yet still, I watched. Thanking God that my mom wasn't around or a throat punch wouldn't have been second guessed by her!

Bella and the boys played on the spider web, the balance beam and the monkey bars. I had visions of Emergency room visits and broken bones... ah the joys of being a pediatric nurse. I can't put my kids in a bubble even though I'd like to sometimes. I helped the mother's 4 year old across the balance beam, because it wasn't the kids fault her mom was a moron and she asked for my help. With a smile, I helped each kiddo across the beam, each of mine then the other mother's daughter.

Bella approached the older girl again... because really who doesn't love a little pressure :) "Do you want to play with me? You don't have to be scared of my hand. I was just born this way. I can do everything you do. You don't have to be scared, let's play!" My child stood there smile, educating, welcoming, lovingly embracing this girls fear over something my child had no control.

"You don't have to play with her if you are scared honey" said the mom. The devil was standing on one shoulder begging me to donkey punch this mom in the gut, while I'm pretty sure my dad was standing on the other telling me to chill and let my daughter handle this. The 8 year old turned to her mom and smiled and off she went with Bella. At that moment I was thankful for sunglasses, thankfully for my ability to hold back my tears, tears of sadness and joy, thankful for the distraction of having two boys that were at the top of the spider web giving me a heart attack.

I stood away from the mom and the dad. I played with my kids and theirs while they sat on a bench watching. I helped their daughter across the balance beam more times than I can count. I laughed and chased them all. I played tag. I had self-control, I'm proud of myself for that! Those that know me, know I often speak my mind.

As I helped Bella across the monkey bars, the other mom stood up. "Wow SHE can do the monkey bars?! I'm surprised!"

"Don't be" I said with a smile, "She can do everything your daughters can do. Don't be surprised" I continued to help Bella across the monkey bars. I looked at my green eyed girl "Right B?"

"Right mom!"

I didn't donkey punch her, I didn't throat punch her.  Education is my first priority. I'm sad I didn't educate her more, although it this situation, I needed to hold back my words of anger, irritation, sadness and frustration. I'm proud of myself and my husband. We have given our daughter confidence and courage to speak up to others. She was not ashamed. Instead, she educated! I'm proud of Bella for having the words to express, a heart of gold and a mind of determination!

Successful 504 meeting

Last week, we had the official 504 meeting. It happened at 7:30 am on a school day. This made it easier for all the parties involved to be t...