Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Typicalness of Friendship, Part II

Most days I really want to take the time to create a (reasonably) well-crafted post, using all the words I'd like to use, and getting out all my thoughts in a (reasonably) clear, (reasonably) logical order.  But then there are days when I have only about 10 minutes to blog and just want to get the words out, with more emphasis on content than on the picture I want to paint.  It's kind of like photography - you can have, in your mind, the most perfect shot, all the colors, the poses, the backgrounds, set up in perfection.  But circumstances work against you (lighting, an uncooperative subject, a short window of opportunity), and you settle for just documenting the moment rather than capturing a feeling.

Anyway, today started out as one of those fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants blog days, with just a couple of moments in which to write, but I did manage to eke out a little extra time in my life, and dedicated it to this post.  Uh, instead of doing something else with my multiple seconds and minutes, like watching tv, reading a (rare) book, cleaning the house.  Tempting, I know.

On Saturday, Samantha was invited to a birthday party, for one of the "typical" children in her "typical" school.  I suppose I could rejoice in the fact that this was her first fully non-disability-related birthday party invitation (other than the ones we've gotten for my friend's son every year).  But I almost don't count it as such, because there are always so many "typical" kids at most of the birthday parties she goes to.  Also, considering she's been in school since she was 2, that adds up to a whole heckuvalot of birthday parties.

But the real interest in this party for me, was that I could actually meet her classmates, meet their parents, see how she interacts with the other children and how they interact with her.  I had written before about how I never get to drop her off or pick her up from that school, and have no real visibility into her day there.  I just get the 2nd hand reports from Steve, or from Samantha's resource teacher.  And I had also written before that I thrive on it, gleaning every little detail for clues to her future.  Yes, I know she's only 4...

I must say, I was blown away.  I didn't feel at all that she didn't fit in (okay, other than the fact that she sat for about 20 minutes eating every last teeny tiny drop of ice cream cake off her plate when the other kids abandoned theirs mid-consumption to go back to the bouncy-thingies to play), and was really, truly heartened by the way the other children interacted with her.  I believe that they know she's different in some way, needing some extra help with things, but they don't really treat her too much differently.  They seemed to have developed a patience with her, an ability to help her do the things she's not as good at.  They were happy to see her, encouraging her to come do the things they were doing (even though my stubborn little girl could not have cared less if she was playing alone or with them).  As she climbed the long "staircase" up to the top of the blow-up slide, taking her time and being careful, she caused a traffic jam to develop behind her.  But I didn't hear even one complaint from the others.  Occasionally someone would sneak under her arm to climb up ahead of her, but most just waited, calling words of encouragement.  I discovered later that if I told her, "go faster, Sammi!" she could and would climb up much, much faster.  If only I had thought of that then...

While I didn't get too much time to speak with the other parents, it was clear they treated her just like any other child.  She was particularly attached to one of the dads (one that Steve had already told me she liked), and launched herself into his arms when we arrived.  Something I found rather curious, though, was that the mother of the birthday boy was telling me that her son is a real challenge in the classroom.  She said that he has a hard time sitting still and focusing, to the point of disruption during group times.  See where this is going in my head...?  Remember my post about our meeting with the school, when they told us that they weren't sure about Samantha's placement in the class since she couldn't focus during group times?  Uhhh, I certainly hope a similar discussion was held with his parents...I sure didn't want to ask, and didn't want to discuss our experience with her.  There's a new teacher in the class now, anyway, and Samantha seems to be more interested in her than in the other.  Or at least she talks about her more.

I'm very proud of my little girl, holding her own, being a good friend.  Her classmates are drawn to her, I think, because she's nice.  One of the parents mentioned that to Steve one day.  She doesn't know how to speak ill of anyone, or how to exclude someone.  Children see kindness and heart.  I like to think that she will always be able to exude these qualities, and certainly hope that children of all ages will still be able to see this, beyond preschool.    

11 comments:

Cathleen said...

Love reading about the birthday party she went to. My daughter is also 4 and we've had similar experiences in school and at parties with her friends - she is just part of the group, and I like witnessing that. :)

my life: said...

awww...me too momma...I love reading all of that good stuff! You can tell by her photos that she oozes yumminess! :0)

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

that is AWESoME!! what a great experience for you and Sammi...the school really must rock!! and the parents of these kiddos must get it! Sammi is changing views and preception and that means there is a shift in thought... INCLUSION!! a very good thing!

Rochelle said...

I love that she is just one of the kids and she fits in well with her peers. So comforting!
One piece of advice another ds parent gave us when Alayna was born was behavior is key, none of the kids will know or really care about their adademic abilities but, they sure will know if they can be a good friend and be appropriate in class and at birthday parties! Those are the skills that will keep those invites coming.
Sounds like Sammi is doing a great job being a friend and you guys are doing a great job teaching her this important life skill.

txkerri said...

What a great story!! Thank you for sharing. Means alot to a still kindof new mommy. I always worry that AAsher will not be accepted by the other kids.

Kelli said...

This brought tears to my eyes...I just love hearing stories like this! Hope you guys are doing well! xoxo

Jenny said...

This was really nice for me to read too...I always wonder what I am going to feel like at that stage in the game...When Russell is old enough to go out into the world and not be sheltered by the walls of our home...I am scared for that day...But reading things like this makes me realize that everything will be alright...He is such an amazing little guy how can people not be drawn to him?!
Loved this post so, so, much!!

Melissa M said...

I know I've said it before, but I love school/interation stories. It just makes me feel less worried about the future.

Anna said...

Love this story!! So nice to hear about inclusion. So glad you are surrounded by such great people!

Jennie said...

Tears of joy here. How wonderful to read your account of how the other children saw Sammi.

Michelle said...

I'm so glad you were able to see Sammi and her classmates like that! I love those moments when I can see Kayla and her classmates and get a glimpse into how the interact with each other - and it always warms my heart :)