I just received this e-mail from Molly's favorite teacher of her 6th grade year. Read it and you will probably guess why he was the favorite. It has been nothing less then thrilling to watch the students go from early man all the way to Rome with many stops in between this year. Somehow this one teacher was able to capture attention and interest and inspire.
Thank goes to our own amazing Mr. D but deep gratitude and sincere thanks goes out to all the teacher out there that help our kids along the way! We could not do it without you.
Well, the year's all but over and I'm sitting knee-deep in the debris of another year gone. Maybe my age is catching up with me, but I'm feeling a little contemplative today, waxing a bit poetic or philosophic...and I wanted to send one last message to you all.
Your kids might have mentioned that my name in the Greek simulation is Sisyphus. He was a Corinthian king who temporarily cheated death and was punished with the task of pushing a stone up a mountain for eternity, only to have it roll back down after each push. I chose that name for a reason. Just as I told the kids when we did our literary analysis work, the finest authors do not use names lightly. So, today I stand, looking proudly into the valley, chest heaving, legs trembling from the long climb beside my life's work. Completion of that task once more.
But, I can already hear the grains of sand crunching beneath this year's stone. (Or is it the sound of gravel beneath bus tires?) The rock is already beginning to roll back down the mountain.
In two short months, the dust will have settled and I will find myself, once again, at the base of that mountain, leaning into a rock, and pushing it, once again, against the pull of fate and gravity.
I wouldn't have it any other way. I like to think that Sisyphus got what he wanted and was happy to pay his eternal price. I know I am. It has been a privilege and honor to work with your children this year-to push and cajole them, to encourage them to stretch themselves, to give them the opportunities to reach and grow. To have gained the top of the mountain is as much their victory as it is mine or yours (you were there for the whole trip, too, afterall). Thank you for all your support along the way (you kids will thank you someday, too, I think).
So, before I begin the long march back down the mountain to meet my rock, I wanted to tell you all, the view from up here is beautiful. The sun is shining brightly beneath an azure sky, birds wheel through clean air and I feel great hope for the future. Your children's future.
When this phrase tumbled out of Shea's mouth last week, I realized that I had never heard him say it before. Hard to imagine, I know.
Most kids ask questions and chatter non-stop...unless, of course, they have verbal communication difficulties then questions come for their eyes and hands and word approximations. Parents intuitively learn a whole new alternate language so we know how to communicate with our kids. But what about the big old impatient world?
This week, I was one of 24 field trip parents for Shea's Kindergarten visit to the Pt. Defiance Zoo. 40+ kids, 2 teachers and many, many very involved parents made the trip together on a big school bus. We were blessed with a wonderfully brief bus trip, but as we bounced along three to a seat, I heard all around me Shea's peers talking, telling jokes, sentences just rolling of their tongues, all of them taking speech very much for granted.
I wish that those usually easy to roll off the tongue sentences and phrases didn't get stuck, stilted, dropped. For Shea, sentences don't just naturally flow; each word is a labor and putting them together is a juggling act with a seemingly long drop that takes great patience for him and the listener.
Honestly, it is hard to hang in there with him to the end. I holler at Molly when she finishes his sentences because he needs to just bang through it, to practice. But I do it too. Usually in my head but sometime out loud when I can tell he is loosing the thought and getting frustrated.
The other day he said, "Remember when that was ice?" pointing to a tarp in the back yard with icky mosquito water in it. Yes, indeed, there was ice in there last winter and that he mentioned this sort of floored me.
I don't think he has ever said "Remember when..." before and I am thrilled that he is beginning to do it now. How wonder how he see his own struggles with speech?
Sometimes I say, "Shea, you are such a good talky-talky now. Do you remember when it was hard?" Wish he would answer me but he doesn't. I wonder if he will look back and think, "Talking was hard for me when I was a kid." Or will it be much more present, "Talking is hard for me and has been that way since I was a kid."
In the early days, I used to have bittersweet dreams about Shea where he was talking and saying words. Just being able to hear his sweet little voice felt like a gift.
Now, I dream about having a real conversation with Shea where he tells me what he is thinking or dreaming of or imagining or hoping to do. A conversation that is not Wii or Fudge pop related.
I hope that happens some day.
Life is not fair. They say it and I say it because it true. It isn't fair that for some kids talking is excruciatingly hard or that for some kids walking, focusing, socializing, breathing, listening is excruciatingly hard. A magic wand would be nice but all we have is our individual ways of coping.
So, no, life is not fair but I remind myself yet again, there is room in the world for Shea and all the other kids who have to work so hard to do the things that are so much easier for their peers. There is room for of them and they will be stronger, more patient, more adaptable people because of it.
What takes 60 hours... plus another 30 to prepare... a family striving to be quiet for 2 months so mom can study... a long drive in the rain in Tacoma... 2 1/2 hours parked in front of a generic Dell laptop... ear plugs to block the noise of nervous teeth grinding... and, of course, the commitment and decision to "Just do it"?
Yes, that's right, The Washington Real Estate Salesperson exam.
And, I passed! Sure glad that is done!
Was it hard? Not really, it is no rocket science but it can be crushingly dull at time. By the end of all that I sure feel like I know it backwards and forwards though.
For what it is worth, I can check that off my list.
I am a 40 something mom who lives on a beautiful little island in the Pacific NW. It is a wonderful place to raise kids and we have two. This blog is dedicated to my son, Shea, who has a severe speech delay and extensive food allergies. And, to all the parents and people who work with children with special needs.