I’m learning all the time.
and in that learning, I hope that I also grow some, add to my collective inner wisdom some, bring a little something more to the world around me.
but in the learning and the seeking of experience, I also hope that I’m modeling some for the little eyes and ears that walk this journey beside me. for the little one, her learning looks different than mine — her mind sees things uniquely and ingests the world around us quite uniquely. she understands it all in way that is both very refreshing and, yet, often prism-like in the stained glass fragmentation of it all. it is complex, it is multi-dimensional, it is a place of both great struggle for her and also of great joy, this ying and yang of learning and understanding.
when we headed north, it was a direct reaction to schooling and educational opportunity for a little one. in the school in the woods, she now has an IEP plan that spans over a dozen pages and is carefully and conscientiously crafted by a team of educators and therapists that I hold in great regard. her day has great scaffolding in place to support her in a varied and enriched setting where she is both included and receiving the one-to-one support and instruction she so clearly needs.
but, let’s be honest here: it’s not a magic panacea. she’s still struggling. she’s had, and continues to have, moments of such high anxiety that she’s reverted back to old patterns and behaviors where she seeks maladaptive sensory input to soothe. I see the scratches, the scabs, the peeled cuticles, the missing facial hair where a rash now exists. my heart aches for these tell-tale signs, and where words aren’t enough, I hold the little one and rock her as I’ve done for years. but I also kick our sensory strategies into high gear to stave off any tailspin, any regressions that lurk in the shadows.
for the first time this year, just this past week, she brought home some homework that she openly acknowledged she should do. we’ve had scant papers sent home over the school year but the mutual understanding has been to follow her lead on much of this and it’s a mutual understanding I deeply appreciate. but this week, it was a ruler and a question to measure two things and record your findings. so I sat back some and had the little one teach me what to do, how to do, when to do.
as a type A momma, this isn’t the easiest nor most comfortable route …
but it is the most meaningful for us both.
so we measured – and not just in inches but in how far she’s come in a calendar year. she’s gained some, she’s lost some, but in all of this, she’s showing us all the way — her way. teaching us how to teach her. allowing us a peek at her world – slowly, meaningfully, deliberately. she’s succeeding in her own way and I don’t measure that success in her academics. far from it, actually. she has friends – not many but enough and the ones she has, boy!, are they fabulous. she’s navigating her day and finding joy along the way that she can relay to me later when we share our days with each other.
recently I attended an informal open house in her classroom and she was so anxious and so nervous — but insisted all week that I had to come. she followed it up with the scripting of her teacher’s words that if you couldn’t come, it was ok … but her eyes told a different story and this momma knew, just knew, how terribly important this all was. where the words fail her, her eyes speak volumes. so we went – stopping frequently in the walk from the car to the school front door to slow down, breathe, count, tell the ‘jumping-insides’ to just sit for a bit.
and there it was … her easel book. I had heard bits and pieces of this book for a while but what I saw just took me by surprise and awe. the pride and the internal success – she couldn’t contain herself. I couldn’t contain myself. her story was about an event that she and I shared and for the first time in any of her stories, she even described herself as ‘spinning in circles’ when she was excited. that’s what did me in: the self-awareness that she was expressing exactly who she is.
and then over on another area, her ‘tower book’ about a playdate with one of her best friends. oh, and just because she’s awesome like that, she’s also a reader these days … because she simply is succeeding in her own way and at her own pace. but more importantly, those around her are allowing her the space to take learning and success at her own pace, as they are able.
there’s a thought that success truly comes to those who believe in it. I believe success is measured differently than that. in our little home in the woods, we measure success in increments — sometimes even micro-increments. the measure of our success isn’t purely in report cards or even special education assessments: it is that we continue to learn from her, with her, alongside her. where she’s headed is for her to show — what she’ll achieve is for us to be awe-inspired by. where she’ll soar? heaven only knows … but, I’m so elated to be along for the ride, learning and measuring all the while.
“One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” – Helen Keller