Last night I met all of my new three year old students and what an adorable and awesome class it will be! There are blessed with not only church support but with great families. It is going to be a great year.
Last night Miss Emily walked into my classroom. As you can see, she looks just like my David and is rocking a little extra chromosome. I know her parents from our Down Syndrome family group and they are awesome people. Emily just jumped right in with her new friends and toys. Her parents were watching her with big smiles, but I recognized that look on their face. This will be her first entry into the world outside of their loving extended family. I get the sheer terror and excitement they must feel, because I too have had those same thoughts and feelings with David when he started preschool.
I went to bed with them on my hearts last night because there was so much I wanted to share with them in those brief moments of open house last night. I could not find the words to share with them then except for the promise that we will love her and that we will hold her to a high expectation.
I also wanted to tell them that we will NOT patronize her by only talking about how "cute" she is and we will use the time out chair if we have to because we know she can learn right and wrong. We will treat her like everyone else but we will also cherish that God did indeed make her unqiue and awesome and that He will use her to teach us about Him.
I wanted to tell them that as she enters not only our sweet little christian preschool but "big school" she is going to blow their minds how smart she will be. David re-taught me the oceans and continents this past week when we were studying and got them right without hesitation. It may take children with DS a little longer to get it, but by golly they will. You will be astounded how much she will learn and grow. Never,ever let that little arbitrary IQ number stop you from expsosing her to knowledge and expecting her to get it. You are in for some amazing surprises!
I know you are worried if she will be accepted by her peers, but from our experience with David you are in for another surprise. Except for a handful of children (that simply were not taught properly) David has been greeted with acceptance and love from his peers. Our children with DS are so blessed now because of inclusion that they start out in school included and with "typically developing" children . In the past our children would have been segregated and therefore, different, now they are part of the class literally. I see that David brings out the best in most people and I know sweet Emily will do the same.
Sadly there maybe a teacher or other professional along the way that will not get her. There have been whole meetings where all we have talked about are all the ways that David is "lacking or not measuring up." Our children with DS often do not measure up on standardized timed tests but I promise you that there will be meetings with amazing professionals where she will collectively blow the minds of all involved. Your heart will not be able to contain your pride and love for her.
With our typically developing children you take for granted that God has ordained certain people in their lives because we do not dig too far to see it. With our angels with DS, God's handiwork will be so evident in their lives that you can only praise Him for the amazing people that He will put in her path. When she overcomes milestones that you thought were not possible you will simply have to give praise and glory to the Creator who made her.
I know you are scared to send her out into the big world. I have often pondered keeping David under a rock too to "protect" him. Just know that this teacher is honored that God put her in my life and that we will love and cherish her. We will also prepare for her "big school" so she can continue to amaze those around her. My heart is so excited for you and Emily because you are about to buckle up for an amazing ride. I am just so thankful and humbled that I am her first stop in this awesome journey.