Yesterday was the last day of school. It was an emotional day. Christopher “graduated” kindergarten. Charlotte almost refused to leave early because she did not want to miss time celebrating with her class. And Nicholas, well he was happy to leave early, and maybe the most excited about summer, still I believe he had a great day and more importantly a great year.
I had to take the kids out early regardless of it being the last day because Charlotte had to have her teeth cleaned. While waiting for her I sorted through the kids folders and envelops. The office has just enough curious toys in the waiting area to keep the kids occupied. The amount of paper that has come home in this last week is crazy. In Nick’s folder was an envelop that contained small notes written by his classmates and homeroom teachers. They were really heartwarming notes. They were so kind that I had a hard time not crying. Being at the dentist office helped. I asked Nick to hold one up so I could share it with you all. Hence the pic above.
Two notes in total mentioned his leg. The other one said:
“I like how you try to do stuff with a hurt leg and you were friendly and brave”.
I love these notes. The others centered around Nick being kind, helpful, smart, funny, respecting others and being a good friend. I love the leg notes but I also love that it’s not all about the leg.
Recently there have been some posts on Facebook regarding parents being scared of their children being teased. I had those fears to a great extent when Nick was little and still have them to a much lesser degree. These fears made me think about how I worried so much about treating Nicholas so “normally” that other people would to. I felt like I was setting the tone for others in my behavior and attitude.
I am or may not have been right about that but I now believe that I was in fact setting the tone for how Nick would see himself, which does dictate how others see him today. The way he expresses himself regarding fibular hemimelia, the way he lives his life without limits, the fact that he believes fibular hemimelia makes him more!!!
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice”. Peggy O’Mara
As parents many of us worry a lot about the negative influence society will have on our children. Wether it be teasing, bullying, the media, friends, etc. I know I am still early in the game in many ways, I have yet to parent a teenager!!! However I do feel that my experience with Nick does shine a light on the fact that our influence can be greater than all of that. The solid foundation I have tired to build for Nick has held so far. I expect that if he was teased he would be hurt, but I do not believe it would crush him, so the worry about it does not crush me.
Plus, worrying about these things really doesn’t make it easier if it does happen. Here is what I think helps; build a solid foundation of love and acceptance, celebrate who your child is, acknowledge the hard parts of the journey but help your child focus on the light at the end of the tunnel and don’t automatically react negatively to people staring or questioning. If you react negatively eventually your child will too. That kind of reaction can create shame. Staring, in and of itself, can be totally benign. It’s usually curiosity or concern. People generally don’t mean any harm. I know I stare sometimes at people with differences. I try to smile at them when I realize I was staring. I know I have said the wrong things!! I also know in my heart I never meant to be hurtful. Intention is important to acknowledge. Smiling and answering people in an non defensive way puts everyone, and most importantly your child, at ease.
I know I have written about most of this before but these little notes from Nick’s class and watching how he operates in the world got me thinking. Nick’s classmate would never have thought Nick’s leg was cool if Nick didn’t, and what Nick thinks is what matters. I do feel like I need to be more mindful of this with all my children and not just about the big things but the little things too. The world will not always be kind. I hope they will know that they do not have to take in the unkindness, that it is never who they are that is the problem. I hope that the kindness that resides in their hearts sustains them through whatever life throws at them.
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.” L.R. Knost
That’s the kind of people I am aiming to raise. I am certain that other parents are doing the same. Nick’s notes are proof of that.
This post is dedicated to Mrs. Goodnow. I am so grateful that you were Nick’s teacher this year. Thank you!!!!