Class of 2016

This is it. The culmination of 7 years…12 years…39 years. I didn’t anticipate when my family moved to this little foothills town 39 years ago that my children would attend the same lovely school as me but they have. And now they won’t.

What began again twelve years ago with her brother was celebrated last week and will finish tomorrow.¬† Our gorgeous girl is growing up and moving on, just as she should, and she’s excited. Me? I’m sad and nervous and not ready. I have (because it’s all about me ūüėČ ) been an emotional sop all week. I cried watching kids I didn’t know at the school concert, ¬†am getting mushy over Christmas ads and bawled on graduation day when I bumped my hand. It is a big change but when I say it’s all about me that is just the sadness. The excitement and celebration is all about her.

Missy has conquered this primary school thing. She has had to adapt to a noisier, busier setting every Friday and work in a different way. The girl has friends. She has learnt…and she has taught. Last Thursday she popped on¬†the dress she chose and proudly joined her graduating class…just as she should. (I was the one harbouring wads of tissues!) Tomorrow is her final day. She will have her bear signed and join her friends for final assembly. (I will again be the one with the tissues.)

To you my gorgeous kid….the next stage of life now unfurls itself at your feet.¬†Make the most of every opportunity. Take chances. Shine your light. Be brave. And if you could turn back every now and then to pass me a tissue I’d be ever so grateful. ¬†Go and enjoy. {{sniff}}

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Little steps

Cerebral Palsy Awareness day has been and gone again. I wonder if the world is any different. Is every building accessible? Can any adult with CP access meaningful activities/employment? Is positive language being¬†used (I’m looking at you “R” word!)? Have folk stopped staring?

I cannot answer yes to any of these questions (yet). They are all aims to keep striving for but are they a measure of lack of achievement? I think not. I reckon progress can be gauged in smaller increments.

My getting-bigger-by-the-minute girl has two applications pending for some kick a**e technology. One to cruise independently (and add to my grey hair!) in a powered wheelchair. The other will enable her to use her eyes to talk (I know right…amazing)! If there is such a thing as a time to have cerebral palsy, now is it. Amazing technological advances are becoming cheaper and allowing for new levels of involvement and independence right across the disability sector.

Positive role models are more prevalent then ever too. Skilled athletes gave their all at the recent Paralympics shining a light on the “ability” in disability. Kids of all abilities are regularly¬†popping up in chain store advertising. Social media platforms allow many more voices to be heard. My kid doesn’t have to look far to see people like her living life well.

There’s lots of good stuff going on for people with CP (in amongst the crazy everyday juggle)¬†that I can recognise when I pause and reflect. ¬†It may be¬†pertinent¬†to¬†remember¬†that people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities were routinely institutionalised until¬†only 20-30 years ago.¬†¬†¬†That is a big shift in attitude in my lifetime.¬† The world is not perfect for my girl and the extra challenges she has but it is perfect-er.

Star

On Friday she won an award. Not a token for being the kid in the chair but a well deserved and appropriate recognition of her perseverance. It is one of the things she does best…persevering…and one of the things she has had to pull out frequently this year. Third term consisted of illness, hospital, home and very little school for her. So to receive a “Bounce Back” award was ace.

The award says “For her terrific determination and persistence to complete her work after returning to school. We missed you K and love having you back in the classroom with such a positive attitude. Great work!”. Fabulous! And this follows a big day last¬†week when the kid received a nomination. A fellow student nominated her to be school captain next year. S c h o o l C a p t a i n! That’s huge for any kid¬†especially for one who is non verbal. So this week she delivered a speech to her grade 5/6 cohort. She is enormously proud and wrote a speech about her qualities and why she loves her school that was stunning in its maturity. She delivered it using her voice output device apparently¬†to a round of applause.

I was there at assembly on award¬†Friday ready to snap away when a fellow parent asked if I brought tissues. I didn’t expect tears, just smiles. And smile I did as her name was announced and her aide helped her to the stage. Missy was so very proud. To make the morning even brighter her prep buddy received an award too. Two gorgeous girls who both have to work that bit harder to achieve. Both acknowledged¬† for their contribution to their school.

My¬†kid beamed as she wheeled back to her spot. I kept smiling and taking photos . Then it happened. The simplest thing. The Grade 5’s and 6’s all high fived her as she went past. Oh my. These kids are so accepting and awesome. Can someone please pass me a tissue? I think I have something in my eye.