Thursday, February 9, 2012

Little Miss Popularity

This morning when I dropped off Tera, I saw her craning her neck to see the teacher in the other classroom.  She absolutely loves both of her teachers.  Every morning she has a big smile for her morning teacher, and when I pick her up she always gives her afternoon teacher that same beautiful smile.  So this morning her teacher (also named Melissa) saw her looking for the other teacher across the hall and told me that Tera likes to read with the other teacher while Melissa is getting the morning food ready.  She also told me that since this other teacher is in the "big kid" room, the big kids love to see Tera and they often bring toys over to her to play with.  I left her school feeling so good about my girl. 

One of the first worries I had when I had time to process her diagnosis, was whether or not she would be teased in school or by other kids.  I read so many things from parents of kids with DS wishing their kids weren't judged by other people and how they just want them to be accepted by other kids.  Granted, Tera is only 11 months old, but I really don't worry about that as much any more.  I know that a lot of the kids we know don't really know that Tera is different.  But I also feel that since they'll have known her since she was a baby, they won't know her as anything different. 

I am not a person who necessarily sees the best in people.  It's not something I'm proud of, but I just don't really trust people until I know them.  So with a slightly cynical perception of people as a whole, you'd think I'd be more concerned about how Tera will be viewed and ultimately treated as she gets older.  But I also get to witness just how good people can be.  As burned out as I am by this school year, I'm still impressed when a student holds a door open for me or offers to help me carry something.  And I'm definitely impressed, and touched, when I see students throughout our building talking with and respecting our special needs students.  I'm not saying they're all the poster people for acceptance and respect, but I have witnessed far more positive interactions, than negative ones.  These are the types of experiences that make me feel more comfortable about Tera's future.  I hear story after story of younger kids going out of their way to make a kid with DS in their class feel included and it's hard to worry about rejection at all.

I know I will shed more than one tear in her lifetime knowing someone has hurt her feelings, intentionally or not.  But I'm also excited for the times when she's asked to join something or be part of a group.  I look forward to the time when the young people who know her now become advocates for other kids with DS.  I will be so proud of the time when someone tells me her accomplishments encouraged them or someone they know.  I will beam when I find out she's inspired someone to do something they didn't think possible.  And I will be in awe once again tomorrow morning when I realize that amazing face is capable of so much and that everyone in her life will be better for having known her. 

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