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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Rockin to the First Grade

Korban's class graduated Kindergarten last Thursday night.  Initially, we weren't planning on him participating because he hasn't really been with his class since last semester, but we were so encouraged after the wonderful IEP team meeting that we decided we would give it a shot.  They were planning on each of the three kindergarten classes singing a few songs and then the handing out of the certificates.  We didn't think he could handle being up on stage for that long, especially with the music and everything.  But his teacher told us that she would sit with him on the front row and then walk him up on stage to receive his certificate.  We thought this was a great plan, but I was still really nervous.  I kept imagining worst case scenarios--Korban grabbing his teachers hair and not letting go, or screaming and hitting somebody, going into a complete rage in front of a packed house and then the other parents being all like "So THAT'S the kid that was beating everyone else up this school year..."

Thankfully, that did not happen. 

During her home visit that day, his teacher did a great job of preparing him for what was going to happen that night.  She told him that if he had nice hands there would be a balloon waiting for him afterwards.  He takes his balloons very seriously and gave her precise instructions on what kind of balloon he wanted--"a circle balloon that says happy birthday." (Even though his birthday isn't for 11 more months.)

Brad and I invited our parents; totally last minute since we weren't sure he was going to participate and mainly because we had so many reservations ourselves, but they all were able to come and were super proud of him.  When we got to the school I handed Korban off to his teacher and we went and sat in the auditorium.  He walked in with his class while his teacher held his hand.  They went and sat in the first row together while the rest of his class went up on the stage. 

The songs they sang were so cute, and the kids did a great job, but I was a nervous wreck the whole time.  I was so afraid Korban wouldn't last long enough to do his part and walk across the stage.  Plus, I was unexpectedly battling a big rush of sadness that Korban couldn't be up there with the other kids.  I think I've adjusted pretty well overall, but sometimes it still just hits me.  After Korban was diagnosed, I went through this stage where I pretty much just didn't like neurotypical kids.  It was extremely difficult to see kids the same age as Korban doing things that he wasn't even beginning to do.  It was hard hearing their parents talk about it.  And it was hard having people ask me what was going on with Korban, when I wasn't totally sure myself.  One thing about most kids--they pretty much say what's on their minds.  I remember Korban being in a group of kids when he was about two and all the other kids playing while he just sat and stimmed.  He was spinning something and humming, which was pretty much what he always did at that age.  One of the little girls came up to me and said "Ms. Melissa, what's he doing?"  I said "Oh, he's just playing.  That's how he plays." To which she replied "Well, he plays WEIRD!" and walked away.  Let me be clear:  This hurt a lot to hear, but that wasn't her intention.  I knew this child, and she's a good kid.  She was maybe three at the time, and calling it like she saw it.  Which, in her mind, was "weird."  So I found it much easier to be with families that were in "mutual weirdness" with us than with people who were "normal." 

Since that time, I've gone on to have my own neurotypical child, and we don't hold that against her.  ;)  And I really did think I was pretty much over having trouble with Korban's peers, but I found myself in this crowded auditorium suddenly choked with tears.  I wondered what it would be like if he could just join in activities and not have to worry.  I wondered what Korban was thinking and if he was wishing he could be up on the stage with his classmates or if he just wanted to get the heck out of there.  He was only sitting a few rows in front of us and at one point he turned around and looked straight at me.  I thought "Oh no!  He can smell the tears!"  Ha!  He is VERY sensitive to my emotions so I smiled and waved to let him know everything was okay and he turned back around.  Just as a side note, I will say that if you are the highly nervous and anxious type, and perhaps you require pharmaceutical intervention to help with anxiety so you don't freak your own kid out, the week of a very big event for said child is NOT the week you should run out of meds and forget to get a refill.  *cough*

When all the songs were over, they did a slideshow on the year in review for the Kindergarten class.  Yet again it was tough to see all the things he missed out on throughout the year.  I kept picking out what he "might"could have done if we had just done this or that.  I kept looking for a photo of him and was about to give up hope when...there he was.  It was a proud moment to see his pictures as part of the slideshow for sure.  Now I wasn't expecting there to be a slideshow so I wasn't sure what to expect when we got there and Brad informed me that the program said there would be, so I think I handled it pretty well.  It was a great slideshow with some adorable kids and lots of fabulous teachers.  I know we are blessed to be where we are.

The awards portion was next along with handing out the certificates.  Now there are three kindergarten classes, and they are fairly large classes.  We were thinking that Korban's class would be first but as it turned out his class was LAST!  Brad looked at me and all I could say, trying to be positive, was maybe some practice by seeing the other kids will be good.  Not sure if I was kidding myself or not.  I was in a panic mode by this point--I was just praying over and over that he would last long enough to have his turn and that everyone would get to leave with the same amount of hair that they came with.  I have a vivid imagination, and it goes into overdrive when I'm nervous.  Korban's teacher has long, beautiful hair and I noticed that the vice principal handing out the certificates did too.  I started picturing them with their hair all piled on top of their heads and protective shower caps on.  But Korban managed to sit just like a little gentleman while the other two kindergarten classes did their awards and certificates.  His teacher told me later that she thought he was going to scream at one point.  He looked at her and said "We use our inside voice in here?" She told him yes, and he said "Inside voice?" again, and that was that.  Whew! 

So when Korban's regular ed teacher got up to give out her certificates, she disregarded alphabetical order and Korban went first--God bless her!  His teacher took him by the hand and they walked up on stage.  Everyone clapped when his name was called just like they did for all the kids.  It took him a minute to get up on stage because he isn't good with steps, but he walked right across the stage and took his certificate like a boss.  Then--my favorite part--he turned around and looked right at the crowd, smiled and waited like "I just nailed this and ya'll better recognize" and everybody clapped again.  So sweet.  I was so proud.  His teacher walked him back across the stage and down the steps while I made pictures and then we walked him out of the auditorium and straight to get his balloon.  (Yes, it was a circle, it said happy birthday on it and it even have a soccer ball.  And she got a balloon for Selah too.  Very thoughtful and just plain awesome!)  We were all very excited and telling Korban how proud we were and I could tell he was proud of himself too. 

I didn't feel sad after seeing him do this--it was a milestone, celebrated in our own way.  "Different, not less." (that's good to remember)  I'm glad I didn't let my anxiety about how this would go keep Korban from experiencing it--well from keeping ALL of us from experiencing it.  I know we need to keep pushing forward and trying new things, even when it is hard.  Even when Korban is with kids who aren't "weird" like we are.  And I know things could have turned out differently than they did, and sometimes things won't go like I would like them to.  But still we keep pushing forward, and we are enormously proud of every step he takes. 

The following verse is how I feel so often about my Korban and I pray that God continues to work on all the anxiety going on that keeps the two of us from enjoying all the life He so graciously gives us.

What would be an adequate thanksgiving to offer God for all the joy we experience before him because of you?
                          1 Thessalonians 3:9

 Going up on stage...
 Receiving his certificate
 "I rocked this, yall!"
 Showing love to his regular ed teacher

 Going back down...

 Showing off his certificate with his teacher

Seriously proud and hanging on to his balloon 

 This is our three-year-old who was NOT very well behaved that night.  When she got her balloon she yelled "I didn't want a balloon!"  So much for being gracious.  You see the yellow Mustang in the background there?  She adjusted the rearview mirror on it whilst the person who owned the car was sitting in it. 

 And here's the video!  I love this.  :)

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