Growing up I never felt like I fully fit in. I don't really attribute this to any certain thing, but it's probably a combination of many things, one of which is just my anxious personality!
I remember being teased by other kids, probably not more than other kids were, but as a kid you don't notice these things. I remember coming home feeling terrible about myself, being too embarrassed to share what happened with my dad. I still get nervous meeting new people, overly worried about what they will think of me or if they'll like me, or talk behind my back. It's ridiculous I know, I'm a grown woman.
Now, as K gets ready to enter into kindergarten, I feel all of my fears and anxiety returning, three hundred fold. This morning a dear, dear friend of mine had a back to school spa morning for a few girls getting ready for school tomorrow. I was so grateful that she thought to include us, and I felt it was so very good for K.
But, as the morning progressed, the other girls didn't want to play with K so much. I don't really blame them, K is a handful! She likes to play with things her own way, doesn't really understand interactive playing like other kindergarten-ers and isn't the easiest to share with!
This triggered in me deeply rooted fears for her future. I know all parents have trouble letting go of their first child to school, but this is so much more intense. It's hard to describe to parents who don't have children with extra special needs.
I love my daughter. There have been many many late sleepless nights worried about what will happen to her as she grows up. Will kids tease her at school, will she have friends, will she always get chosen last for teams in gym class, will she be the only one kids don't invite to birthday parties, will she be able to get a job after school, will she ever live on her own....
If you are a parent with special needs reading this, I assume we are already friends, and to you, I say thank you!! With you.... I never feel weird. I never feel like my fears are silly or overly anxious. You get what I'm saying. I don't feel guilty that my child isn't nice to yours. You don't worry that I won't invite you over because your child with have a meltdown in my living room. I don't have to explain to you how sick it makes me feel when someone uses the word retard.
My whole life, I wanted to fit in. When I found out K had down syndrome, one of my first thoughts was that she would experience the same anxiety I did of never really feeling comfortable or secure.
But, I'm seeing now that I do fit. There are people in my life who get me. And those who don't, or can't, try. V, my best of friends, you always make me feel like you care. Josh, who always listens. Another dear friend, Jenny Jen, who feels sad with me over K being excluded, and doesn't just shrug it off as "what kids do"
And now K gets to be raised in this awesome family that IS safe and secure. With grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, a church family, all who care about her, and know her and love her.
I pray that tomorrow goes smoothly for her, as she starts a new stage in a life-long journey, that she can break down barriers and become a young woman who changes lives and hearts. I know she has changed mine.