I had my first ever Parent-Teacher conferences last week. First up was Emmy, and I was eager to hear what the teacher had to say about her. I knew it would be nothing but good things, but I just needed that half hour of conversation only about my princess. The spotlight is always on her brother, so to focus on her strengths was something I had been looking forward to for weeks.
Her teacher went on to tell me how smart Emmy is. She reads at an advanced level and is understanding math quickly. Emmys teacher was very proud of how gifted she is with her ability to soak up knowledge, as was I. I don’t mean to sound boastful, but she is super smart and it’s (sadly) something I had little to do with. Having a child with special needs takes so much time away from other siblings (one small reason we are done having children). It’s not that we favor him, it’s simply because he requires more assistance. Trust me, I would rather be building a Lego castle together with my kids than trying to get Dawson to just put one block on another. Autism is a lot of work and is very demanding on the entire family. It’s not fair, particularly for Emmy….but it’s just the way it is. Because of the unfair amount of time that is given to Dawson, I always worry I’m not having enough teachable moments with Em or enough of an impact on her growing brain. I worry she may fall behind and I won’t even notice.
After the reassuring conversation with her teacher about emmys natural yearning for information and constant desire to learn…her teacher said that wasn’t even what impressed her most. She said that emery was one of the kindest little girls she had ever known. Her teacher went on to tell me that emmy makes an attempt to befriend everyone, even the children that are not so nice. There are two kids in her class that say naughty words, push her and make fun of other students. It’s really sad….but my daughter refuses to let that be a reason for being rude to them, even when others think they may deserve it. She makes an effort, when she could just simply ignore them. She goes out of her way and sprinkles her kindness everywhere. She is destined to make this world a better place. Having a smart kid is great, but having a child that sees the beauty in life and can find the good in people….that is something you can be truly proud of.
I was on cloud nine. I had a huge smile on my face and my heart was so full. I thanked the teacher for all the nice things she said about my daughter and asked if I could start volunteering in the classroom (per emmys request) while Dawson was in school. The teacher was surprised I had another child. She assumed that emery was my only one….so she asked me a couple questions about Dawson to be friendly. How old is he? What pre-school? Who is his teacher? From just those few questions, she knew that Dawson had special needs so she kindly asked his diagnosis, which I never hesitate to give.
Emmys teacher began to connect the dots and realized that the kind and gentle soul that Emmy has is a direct reflection of her role as Dawson’s big sister. She was forced to live in a world where kindness is our priority and bullying won’t be tolerated. She has had to fend for herself more than most of her peers, but she decided to accept and embrace her unique situation and make the best of it at home as well as the classroom.
Our conference was no longer at the tail end…but rather just getting started.
Emmys teacher had a whole new level of respect and appreciation for me as a mother. It was as if she knew exactly what I was going through…as though she had been in my shoes. It wasn’t but a few seconds before she let me in on her little secret. She too, is a parent of someone with special needs….
We swapped stories and enjoyed our brief moment of not feeling so alone. She gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. She gave me a hug and let me know that as far as she is concerned, I doing a job well done with Emery….and she is only a phone call away. What started out as a 10 minute conference about Emmy, soon turned into a 30 minute conversation about life with Dawson, which of course left me in tears…in the best way.
This parent-teacher conference was supposed to be about Em. It was a time slot dedicated to all things Emmy…but in true Dawson form, it was interrupted with yet another conversation about him. But you know what? Dawson is a part of all things Emmy. She adores her little brother…and while it may not be right, or fair that he seems to find the spotlight no matter the situation…she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is proud of her role as his big sister, and while it can be exhausting and unfair…had she been there, she would have led the conversation about life with her brother having autism.
It will never cease to amaze me how I wound up raising a little girl with such a beautiful mind. She is independent, self sufficient and super smart…but above all, she is kind. She is an old soul. She puts other before herself and makes sacrifices you shouldn’t expect a 5 year old to make. I always say that being her mom is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. She makes motherhood a breeze and I’m thankful for my children each and everyday.