Ok, it’s 10:55 time to pack up my water and reading materials and walk down the hall to pick up Grace. This routine has become habit now twice a week for going on 3 weeks. Grace is enrolled in a mini get ready for school program at a local community centre twice a week for an hour and a half. It has been great, Gracie gets to hang with little people her age, learn structure and routines of a classroom and I get 1.5 hours of time to relax….it’s great, until today.
Its 10:57 and I am walking down the hall to get Grace and go home and bake cookies….so cliche right? Same as the past couple Monday’s until I walk in. The lady leading the class walks to me and asks if she can speak with me about Grace. I say sure smiling as I try to swallow the lump in my throat. Blair and I have been secretly dreading this moment, and, we kind of had a feeling it would come when she started school. I guess the bloom has fallen from the rose earlier than expected. We thought that by day 2 or 3 of school the excitement and newness of it would wear off and she would become bored and start acting out. I guess she couldn’t wait until September.
So here I stand smiling the most forced idiotic smile know to man as I wait for this “I have to speak with you about Grace” moment. I don’t know what I was expecting but I must have breathed a noticeable sigh of relief after hearing about Grace screaming during circle time, not listening to direction, not maintaining eye contact and, having a one sided “adult” conversation by herself which included the words; whatever, you are so silly, they act stupid sometimes and, I don’t even care. Maybe I should have gasped or acted shocked but, I wasn’t. Grace has been behaving this way for about 6 months now, since we moved. Some of these we have attributed to her just being a kid and some just her personality. There are other things we have concerns about and are dealing with them through professional means. All of this is racing through my head as this woman is now staring at me impatiently asking me for answers. Asking why she speaks like an adult, why is she screaming, does she do this often, do we speak to Grace like an adult? Ahhhh panic mode, too many questions at once…is she questioning my parenting ability? Does she even have a clue what I go through on a daily basis with my child? Can she tell I am ready to cry…I mean full on ugly cry at any minute?
This is where I back up the proverbial truck for a moment and explain and share a few things. My children are the loves of my life….period. Grace has always been different and special, ahead of the curve. She was lifting her head up from her bassinet and our chests by the time she was 8 hours old. Her vocabulary has always been off the charts and she never crawled she just stood up and started walking before she was 1. She has an imagination that is rivalled by none and a personality bigger than any room she walks in to. She can be moody, her listening skills can be more selective than most and her gross motor skills need some work, but she is ours and we adore her. Do we have concerns? Yes. Are we having them addressed? Yes. Are we ready to share that with the entire world from the mailman to the crossing guard on the corner? No.
I explained what I could and what I was comfortable with and left the rest as it was, explained we are dealing with some of her behaviours, grabbed my child and left…..I left frustrated, embarrassed, slightly insulted and worried. I worry about what is ahead for my daughter. I worry about how others will treat her based on assumptions they make about her behaviour. I worry that she won’t get the same opportunities as others and that she will be left behind because her behaviours are different and unexplainable. I worry about the patience of those who will be teaching her and their patience or lack of with her quirks.
Now it’s my turn to talk to speak to you about Grace.
Grace is defined as …a virtue coming from God….a special favour…disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courage or clemency…the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful… At least this is what Webster tells me are the highlights. In my opinion, never has a child been more aptly named than our Grace. She is and will always be our gift from God, she is our special favour received. She is kind in disposition and brave beyond belief as well as having a great many moments of consideration for others and thoughtfulness. She does not embody these qualities or attributes at all times but then again who does? But she does have them and resembles them as can we all. Grace is special.
When I speak to you of Grace I am speaking to you not of my daughter but of the act of Grace. Specifically of kindness, consideration and thoughtfulness. I am speaking of considering that yes my child is different in some ways, of being considerate of her feelings and of ours as her parents. I am speaking to you of being thoughtful and not just in what you do but of what you say and what you think. Take that few extra moments and be thoughtful before you judge her or us, before you speak about her behaviour or our parenting skills or your belief in the lack of them. Be kind in your intentions towards others that God had blessed to be different.
When I speak to you about Grace I see opportunities and possibilities, I see a gift that we continue to unwrap and discover each and everyday. When I speak to you about Grace I see my child, not a little body full of behaviours I don’t understand, of moods that can’t be explained, I see my child, my perfect gift and blessing. Perhaps we could all benefit from taking a walk with Grace.