Friday, September 23, 2011

Hat of a Different Color

One of the many lessons I've learned as a Mother is the many, many hats we wear. The interesting part is all through my youth as I pictured what my life would be like when 'I grew up' a constant part of that day dream was my family.
Who would I marry? 
What would my kids look like and how many would I have? 

As I evolved through my life, the questions would evolve with me. I remember while I was pregnant with Jayden, I asked myself...

'How will I know what to do?'

Lesson one - You just know and then you DO

How can a person physically continue to function when going for days and nights in a row with no sleep? How is it that my body was the sole source of food for my child when I could barely remember to feed myself? The months and years are is it that the smell of a strangers throw up is enough to make me succumb to dry heaving ~ but I can clean up with my own hands, my children's nausea, the most foul smelling diapers, boogers, slobber, urine, blood and sweat without qualm? I don't really ever remember my mother being sick when I was young. I now know why. Even when I'm sick, I still just do what needs to be done and know what my kids need and give it to them. Just like my mother did.

Lesson two - You wear the HAT.

You need me to be a doctor? Ok, what is your illness I will either recall a friend whose child has had it or know where to look to find the answer. You need a coach? I'll stand on the sidelines in the pouring rain screaming with all my heart that you can GO GO GO! You need a chief? After many nights of being creative in the kitchen, I can whip up your favorite dish and if not I'll spend the better part of the evening convincing you why it's the best meal you've ever eaten until you're licking the plate clean. You need a maid? I'll clean your room, laundry, bathroom, fold, iron, and organize until the wee hours of the morning. 

Where is my hat rack? I have several to hang. 

I am a Mother. 

Today, this Mother volunteered at the Elementary school for a Kindergarten class. What an eye opening experience. 22 kids in a class. 22 5 yr old's wanting, running, sweating, snotting, crying, pushing, screaming all together in one un-harmonious group. It was my job to help with the computers. The each have a 10 digit long user name and separate 10 digit long password. It was difficult to get these kids to line up let alone log onto a computer. 

User names were like JR8545FRE

Not even really words to help the kids. It was like the user name person had turrets syndrome and was just spurting out letters and numbers. So, lesson one went out the window..I had no idea how to help these other children learn these user names. One little girl kept looking on the ground when I said 'hold the mouse', others would just stare at the keyboard when I said can you find the 7 or the H. So with some of the kids, I helped type the letters so they could play the games like the other kids.

Oh..this was going to be a long 90 minutes. 

There was one little girl, we'll call her Polly. She was different and all the teachers would talk loudly to her. Once we entered the computer lab, the main teacher who had the same tone and volume in her voice as the scary catholic school marms with rulers for weapons, took Polly aside and said loudly 

'Polly! Say m.o.u.s.e.. Can you say that? Look at me Polly say the word!' Polly shrugged her shoulders and glared at the teacher. 

I was glaring too thinking to myself, why would she answer you when you're yelling at her?

The teacher stands up and announces to the aids with Polly listening along with the other kids

'If you're going to help Polly use simple words. Talk slowly and don't try to show her, she won't listen and she's not catching on. Her learning level is very low and they are testing her. In fact, I'll just take care of her and put a movie on. That's the only thing that works with her!'

And with that, my mind was made. Polly was going to be my friend. 

After computer lab we headed outside to play. Polly played in the sandbox and stole the other little girls shovels to make her castle. Never speaking, just humming to herself. I watched. 

What are her parents like? Do they know the teachers talk to her like that? What tests are they doing? When we went inside, I helped with rotations and every 15 minutes the groups switched from each volunteers table. We had a snack and I read a story at my table. 

Polly sat right next to me, I told her she was my helper and needed to help me read the books. She didn't speak words, just grunts and pointed to pictures she liked. She never threw a fit with me and only when the group was told to switch tables, did she show disappointment, I let her just stay with me. She pointed to the black dog as I read all about the color black. Her favorite picture was of the starry night and she'd say oooohhhh and ahhhhhh. I wanted to scoop her up and cuddle her. Find a mirror and tell her how beautiful she is and how smart she is. Don't be discouraged, we are here because we love her and know she can do it. It's OK if you don't learn the same as other kids. Everyone is different. 

I didn't use simple words. I just talked to her like everyone else. Did she understand? I'm not sure. Did she behave? Yes. Did my appreciation for parents of special needs children grow? Immensely. I had so much fun with Jayden's class today. There was a need and I put on my hat. But the bonus was I made a new friend. From now on when I visit Jayden's class...I'll be keeping my eye out for Polly. I have no idea of her past or what the teachers have been through with her. I can only base my opinion on the 90 minutes I spent with her today. 

If you have kids in school...make some time to put on a volunteer hat. The teachers and our children need  your help. 


Heather said...

How cute and sweet are you? I'm sure Polly LOVED you. It's sad that its so inconvenient for teachers and people when someone is "different" then everyone else. Good for you for treating Polly the way she should be treated.

Shauna said...

This was such a nice post! Made me emotional about my kids futures. Good for you for helping out!!

Rob'n'Mon said...

Bravo Mama! Good for you to take the time and effort. I'm sure you made a difference in "Polly"'s day. :)

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