Giving up control is something that I have always struggled with and that may be why God gave me 4 very independent girls: to teach me a lesson:) There is the obvious… letting them bring an art project to school that actually looks like they made it, because they did, letting them take control of the steering wheel (currently teaching daughter #2 to drive!) or letting them burn a frying pan making grilled cheese for the first time. But, for a mom who has spent the last 6 years fighting for support for her “special needs” daughter, it is really tough to give up what I was so certain she needed.
Maria has a personal aide in school and 4 therapists. She also takes a typical dance class that has 6 students and an aide, Miss Jen. Miss Jen is for the class, but because Maria had trouble focusing for the entire class and because I was so nervous to allow her to disrupt the class and possibly not be welcome back, the aide has become more of a personal aide to Maria. To keep her in line she holds her hand through much of the class. Even with this Maria was flopping to the ground and refusing to do most of the class. We went from “her legs are too tired half way through” to “she just doesn’t want to be here” to ” maybe it’s too difficult and she is frustrated or embarrassed.” Well, I was wrong all 3 times, almost.
Last week the aide was absent and the teacher said that Maria did about half the class herself and then sat and refused to get up (a routine she has set for herself there). But, the teacher was surprised at how well she did the first half and actually commented as to how well she was doing without Jen. As Murphy’s law would have it (or so i thought), that’s when maria did her ‘drop and flop.” This afternoon, the teacher held a make-up class for missed days and again Miss Jen was absent. Neither the teacher nor I mentioned Jen at all and Maria danced the entire 45 minutes, doing all the correct moves!
The teacher and I have been racking our brains trying to figure out different ways the aide can help Maria fully participate not realizing that Maria WAS embarrassed (that’s why I was only ‘almost’ wrong :). but,not because she was struggling, but because SHE had an aide and didn’t need one. She was even embarrassed when the teacher pointed out how well she was doing without Miss Jen. I spend so many hours trying to figure out ways to help Maria that i sometimes forget she is growing up all on her own and can help herself. She so desperately just wants to be like everyone else and because she can’t express those feelings with words yet, she chooses, what I call “bad behavior”, to say “I AM like everyone else Mom, teacher, whoever.. just leave me alone.”
Watch out world.. she may be 40″ but she is a 6 year old on a mission!!