Archive | July, 2017

Hellos

28 Jul

I made a Target run today.  I had my kids so I didn’t get to visit my favorite areas (the clearance endcaps) or browse the home section imagining redecorating I could be doing.  Instead it started with the hunt for one of the semi-trailer sized carts.  And we did get one, so I weaved through aisles using the expertise skills I’ve acquired pushing my seventy pound daughter in a stroller with absolutely zero turning power.  (I’m still thankful to have a stroller!)

I managed to remember the Lactaid, cheese, orange juice, Pull-Ups, Popsicles and laminating sheets with only a small stop in the book aisle where one girl dove for a Barbie Gymnastics book and the other giggled after grabbing a Moana book.  Yes, I bought them.  I don’t care if they’re not masterpieces; the fact that my kids are excited to see books is something I encourage the heck out of.  I considered a trip down the best-seller aisle, but the amount of unread books on my Kindle convinced me not to.  

As I started piling our items out of the cart, my son felt the beginning of a low blood sugar right as his Dexcom CGM alerts and my spunky middle child climbs out of the cart even though I asked (okay, begged!) her to stay in it purely to make my life a tad easier. Naturally she didn’t listen, but instead I heard the squeak that means her bear is talking to me and I tucked the not-so-fluffy pink bear under my arm as my RedCard and I paid for our items.

I naturally shift as my other two (bless them) start loading the cart and then my spunky girl hands the cashier the divider that separated our cartful from the laptop behind us.  She giggled when she got a thank you and then she walked a step away from me and I hear her say “Hello.”

A young man smiles back at her and returned her hello.  I struggle not calling him a boy (but to me anyone ten years younger than me feels like a kid).  She smiles and I pause.

She doesn’t talk to strangers.  She’d prefer the comfort of her family and often prefers females to males, but she must have sensed the kindness in him.  So I returned a smile and let him know “she very rarely does this.”  My girl stretches her hands out in what I call her “excited” pose.  When very happy or excited she stretches her limbs but they create a rigid look.  It’s especially fun when she’s barefoot as she manages to stretch her toes, but it’s confusing to people that don’t know what her body language means. This time, since she was standing, she leaned over to giggle.  With a kind smile this “boy” said he felt very honored that he was the object of her affection.

And I smiled back, grabbed the hands of my daughters as we walked out following my teenage helper pushing the semi trailer red cart with a pink bear tucked next to my purple dress. Because it really doesn’t take much to prove there is love and kindness in the world.  A simple “hello” can do the job.

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Summer Swims

16 Jul

Summer break means relaxing in the sun, floating in the pool, and sitting with my feet propped up with a book in my backyard while my kids play on the swingset and I sip Diet Coke. I have a perfect swimsuit tan, sunkissed hair and Tom Petty croons on my radio.

Then I snap my unmanicured fingers and respray myself with bug spray as I fan the mosquitos off my face, adjust my workout clothes and head off to the elementary school for the second time that day, run inside and settle one girl with a cup of orange juice and a bowl of festive potato chips while the youngest slips into one of her five Disney Princess swimsuits and we go straight to the aquatic center for swim lessons.

While I love that she is learning to be comfortable in the water, can submerge herself now and get some wobbly kicks in with support I can’t lie.  I hate sitting in a ninety degree room on bleachers with at least sixty other parents and kids while six sessions of swim lessons all go on in front of us.  The air is too thick for my lungs and I can’t follow conversations with other parents well as between the splashing and staff shouting orders and kids yelling my sensory overload kicks in and I game on my phone.

The minute these kids are done there is a mad dash off to the showers to change and head off to the next camp or pool outing or in our case, home briefly until I dress my other daughter in her handmade (certainly not by me) pool-approved reusable swim diaper and swimsuit to shuffle slowly to the Adapted Program.  


This program may be a bit smaller.  Fewer students and all a one-one ratio of teacher to student.  Fewer parents, but the heavy blanket of air suffocates you still and it is, in fact, warmer an hour later.  But here I can hear and actually have a conversation.  Somehow it’s still the same even though our kids have different needs and swim at a different level.  While it’s easier in some ways, this is still hard.

My youngest took a couple weeks to complete a Red Cross level.  From only wading pools to floating with assistance, not hesitating to hold her breath and go underwater.  My other girl has mastered moving away from the security of the ledge and will walk in the water in the same amount of time.  


The thing is: both of them are learning.  They both are gaining comfort in the water, they are working on their listening skills (even though I had to spend one day of swim sitting backwards in class two when my one girl continued to try to splash her teacher in the face for the laugh.  I reminded her twice it wasn’t ok, but quite frankly her giggle is contagious so I sat backwards so she couldn’t see me bite a smile back.)

This is vital.  They love it.  I love it most days.  Even when I rinse the chlorinated swimsuits and bathe my girls.  But we also like the simplicity of our bug infested back yard.  Excuse me, I’m about to go light some citronella candles and fill up our plastic pool.  Before another round of lessons.  Because I might get to finish that library book before book club meets and I have cold Diet  Pepsis in my fridge.

Thank You Red-Haired Girl

8 Jul

A year ago we met her. And, yes, I can still picture her freckled face and frizzy ginger hair.  To those wondering, no we never met again, but I’m guessing she is making friends with other children that need a smile.

We have yet to go to a new splash pad in the area, but every day when I bring my girls to summer school we are welcomed.  My girl has an entire third grade class (now fourth graders!) that have claimed her as a friend.

How do I know they are her friends?  And not just saying they are her friends?  I see pieces of that love daily.

 On the school’s track and field day she and I stayed late at lunch to finish the Popsicle she patiently devoured even though the bell had rang.  While her class was waiting for the first station we walked down the field and she was motivated by the sound of more than a dozen kids chanting her name and cheering as she giggled and joined her friends.  I half expected a red carpet to be rolled out for her with the star treatment she got.  

Her special helpers introduced themselves to me.  They automatically pair up with her without needing to be asked and just covered their eyes when she became overzealous with the spray bottle.  

And when curiousity struck in the bouncy house, but fear won I could hear gentle encouragement and giggles saying “you can do it!  You’re almost there!” When she didn’t want to leave the cheery yellow air filled room I heard her helpers shout for backup as there was a “Crisis situation” even though all I heard was thumping and laughter.  Another friend asked me if I had one of her favorite snacks as she might come out for that.  And I smiled as they really “get” my girl and upon the promise of mom’s leftover potato chips she came sliding right out.


A trip to Culver’s once meant she was tackle hugged by a friend of hers.  And while my girl is stingy with hugs and has an introvert personal bubble like her mom, that hug didn’t pop it.  She giggled and hugged back.  And his parents told me how much their boy talks about her and how funny she is.  While he took her straight to the soda machine to pick out her drink.

I’ve had a few occasions now where parents have said hello to us and told us their son/daughter has lunch with my girl sometimes. And that that’s their favorite day of the week.  To know her friends talk about her that often their parents reach out to me, just makes me smile.  

So while she might not tell me about her friends, I know they are there.  The little girl at the splash pad reminded me to look for the beauty and love in others.  It’s there.  We need to keep advocating for our kids and allowing them to be who they are.  The friends worth keeping see the beauty in differences.  

And for those of you lucky enough to hear giggles and hug this girl or high five with her when she says her words-enjoy.  She can give you a friendship that has no ulterior motives.  However, you need to know you’ll take second place to Lotso, you know which swing is hers so don’t claim that one, and you must enjoy music and laughter.  I suggest not drinking milk before she does something goofy as it might come out your nose.  I learned that the hard way.