Tears of Gratitude

Well, it happened again today. I left my child’s preschool gripping her tightly in my arms, with tears filling my eyes.

CE3AE6A3-DE33-4479-9291-56B07F493079Today was Ava’s first official preschool parent-teacher conference. I know my child is developmentally delayed, trailing behind her peers. Even her classmates that are far younger than her… she doesn’t even come close. She doesn’t walk yet. Or talk intelligibly to those that don’t know her. She doesn’t know letters or how to write her name. Her teacher didn’t have to tell me any of that. No lengthy assessment reviews needed. She’ll always be in the red in most areas. Maybe she’ll reach the orange column a few times. But it would be extremely rare for her to actually make the green column.

The mother with the special-ed teaching degree, ha, no need to flip through all those pages, I know what they say. But we didn’t talk much about that stuff during our 30-minute session.

I was shown “artwork” spanning the last 6 months. I learned that my child prefers markers over crayons because she doesn’t have to press as hard to see the fruit of her efforts. I learned that she kisses all of her classmates, not just Ian. 🤷🏼‍♀️ I learned she loves painting the best and is very empathetic and sensitive toward her peers if they’re having a rough day. She loves the sensory wall and the water table and has learned to problem solve instead of getting frustrated, most of the time.

Her peers, well, they want to be Ava’s helper. They don’t want her left behind and I have personally witnessed them wiping her nose for her this past winter and helping to put her hat on. They love her. Today I learned that Ava unzips all of their coats as they wait during parent pick-up time. They just zip themselves back up, unphased.

Ava gets to stand up to work on most tasks because her teacher read up on toddlers with Down syndrome and learned that sensory input from the feet is important. Who knew!? Not me!

Our first parent-teacher conference held A LOT of laughter and ended with a nice poop. (Ava’s.) What more could a parent ask for!?

So yes, once again, I left my child’s preschool heavy with gratitude. A heart so full it leaks right out of my eyes!! I’m so, so thankful that there’s a place she can go to learn and be completely loved for who she is. I have never worried once about dropping her off there. (Plus, I know about 10 staff that keep an eye on her and would text me at a moment’s notice if something was wrong!) 💓

Her peers’ parents are so kind to us and have never expressed concern about Ava being in their child’s class.

Thank you, Shanan, for inviting Ava to enroll in school. Sorry, I instantly wept when you suggested it.

Thank you, Miss Merry and Miss Momo for genuinely loving my girl and letting her get as messy as she wants! Thanks for being tough on her, not letting her get away with murder because she’s cute. Thanks for making her work and creating opportunities for her to have such fun at the same time. Thanks for teaching her.

Thank you FYCP for wearing fun socks on World Down Syndrome Day and donating money to GiGi’s. 💙💛 And thanks to the office staff for lending a helping hand when Ava needs it. And for sending me cute pictures of my girl during the day.

Thank you, Bill Webster, for stopping whatever it is that you’re doing at your little security post each morning to hold and snuggle Ava for as long as she wants. And for letting her look at your paperwork and touch your phone. She loves you!

And thank you, Jake, for letting me list you as “something that calms your child if they are upset” on her paperwork. 😆

Ava, I’m so proud of you, girl! 💜 You are the best.

💜 Sara

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