(springtime in our front yard)
This past week, my husband and I celebrated our birthdays. We share the very same day as our birthday, and it has it's benefits, to be sure. There is no forgetting and there is not much pomp and circumstance surrounding the day for either of us. Keeping it low-key is what we like, and if anything out of the ordinary is done, it's usually on a small scale (like on our 40th birthdays). It is a frightful reminder, however, that I am and always will be, one year older than my love. But I can get over that pretty quickly.
This year, my gift came somewhat unexpectedly. We had a conference scheduled for Miss E the day before our big day. We were exhausted that day, having gotten up in the wee hours of the morning to travel home from a last-minute family gathering. I think we both consumed a fair amount of caffeine that day, but no amount would jolt us up out of the funk we were in. It didn't help that our 3 kids were well-rested and restless from having had to sit in small, confined spaces for the better part of 5 hours. So we dragged ourselves into the school, all kids in tow, to hear what the teacher had to say.
(springtime in our backyard)The conference started out the traditional way, "..she's performing at this level, here are some work samples, she's on target for 1st grade, blah, blah, blah..." We didn't have any major concerns, as she is a good worker and seems to be progressing well. My only concern is with how she gets along with other kids. At home, Miss E likes to be in control of a situation. She has a perfectionist streak in her and if things are not done to her liking, she can be shrill and demanding. If she is not the leader, she can very well slip into her own little world and ignore everything around her. She has a grand imagination and is fascinating to listen to. At the beginning of the year, she had a difficult transition to kindergarten because she didn't know quite how to acclimate to a class that was double in size to her preschool class. She was known to spend recess time all by herself, and had some difficulty in making new friends. It was less of a concern to me now, but I was still curious. So I asked.
(Nest built under our deck, virtually overnight)
The teacher's response is what caught me completely off-guard. She sighed and said, "I wish that everyone was as patient and kind to other classmates as Miss E is." She went on to explain that in her classroom, there is an autistic child and a couple of other children with special needs. It is my little drill sergeant that they listen to. She approaches each of them fearlessly, with a gentleness that allows them to seamlessly become a part of the class. Miss E sets the example that these children, despite their differences, hold a place in the classroom that is just as significant as everyone else's. She insist they be treated with the same amount of respect, kindness, and attention, doing so through her own actions. And she's only 5.
(Miss E enjoying the water, Christmas 2011)It was a proud parent moment, to be sure. Both my husband and I were touched. Sometimes, you focus on the academic side of things too much. And for two parents who both have worked as educators, the focus is even more intense. The praises that were sung about my daughter were a reality check. I am proud of her intellectual growth, but I am even more proud that this little girl we're raising, can be an example to us all. That tolerance of those that are different from us, in any way, can make this world a kinder, gentler place.
A special birthday present, indeed.