Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Fox and the Hound Part 3

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite books was The Fox and the Hound.  In our backyard stood an old brown shed we pretended was our schoolhouse.  We even had our own library which held a copy of this classic tale.  One of the biggest fights me and my best friend/next door neighbor got into was over who the book belonged to when the library closed down.  I have vivid memories of us standing in wet leaves, tugging on each end of the book, and exchanging choice words in our blue jean overalls.  It remains a mystery as to who the book belonged to, but I still believe it was me. ;)

My love for this book/movie lives on. (And so does our friendship.) So when I came across a $6.99 puppy costume at Ross, I had a vision of recreating my childhood favorite.  Thinking my days of themed costumes were long gone, I didn't give it too much hope.  BUT the Fox, loving all things artsy, was completely on board when she knew involved making costume. (She had a tiny issue with the fact that Todd is technically a boy, but was willing to dismiss it.)  The Hound was happy to play the part...walking around on all fours and giving us his best bark.  And the Hunter, well, even though he really wanted to be a Minecraft character, but because he is so awesome, he humored me and went with it.  (At least long enough for me to do a photo shoot.)

So I happily introduce you to The Fox and the Hound 3.


Have a safe and Happy Halloween!!
Love, Andrea

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Good Old Golden Rule

Deacon's teacher pointed this out to me in the breezeway as we exited his IEP meeting today.  I had to take a picture as I passed back by, because well...A. That face.  B. His artwork. and C.  Fall!!! All of the above make me feel all warm in fuzzy inside.

But you know what does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside? IEP meetings.  I've yet to have one go wrong, but going to them still makes me sick to my stomach.   It could stem back to some bad experiences I had when teaching in public school, or maybe it's just my anxiety that gets the best of me as I worry about what will be said or done.  I'm not sure, I just know they make me uneasy.  But today there was only one negative comment in the whole meeting.  I had to tell myself to consider the source, pretend that he meant well, and brush it off.  Especially because of what came next.

While entering the school we passed THE cutest little girl with Down Syndrome.  It was the first time I had seen her.  In fact, it was the first time I've seen another child with DS there at all.  I only saw her in passing, but every bit of me wished I could have gone back to talk with her and her mom.  Later on in the meeting, D's speech therapist said she had to tell me a little story.   She said that she walked into the speech room with Deacon and there was another little girl in there with "similar traits" doing speech with her teacher as well.  (My hypothesis is that it was that beautiful little girl.) Anyway, she said as soon as he walked into the room he started talking to her, and that she started trying to mimic what he was saying.  She proceeded to tell me that Deacon was getting her to say things that her speech teacher had tried to but never could. You can only imagine the big cheese face I was wearing as she told that story and the tears I was trying to hold back.

In addition, she told me that there was only one letter within his age level that she did not check off on his articulation test.  She said she knows he can pronounce it correctly but doesn't in some words and that it was probably because he learned those at an earlier age.  The sound is "d" and Lord knows he is hollering "DADDY!" the minute he walks through the door each day, and those "d" sounds are clear as a bell!  She told me they were moving on to the 5 year old sounds and for me not to be surprised if his articulation was right on target for his age.  I'm not surprised at all.  I know what my boy is capable of, and I also know what my God is capable of!  We have prayed from day one that he would be able to communicate well with us, and are so thankful that He has answered that prayer.  I feel very blessed by his abilities.  I know that like a lot of things, these verbal skills still do not always come easily for him, and many times can be even harder for other people with Down Syndrome.  However, I also know that each individual with DS has strengths of their own.  Deacon's cannots that I was also reminded of today, might be another person's cans.

But isn't that the same for all of us?  We're created differently and unique in our own way, each having our own strengths and weaknesses, and that doesn't make a single one of us better than the other.  We're ALL fearfully and wonderfully made.   People with Down Syndrome may be different, but they are sure as heck not less, and should not be treated that way either.  It's been said that differences make the world go round, and I believe that to be true.

(I mean seriously...does this face look anything less than perfect? Didn't think so)

If more people felt the same, it would make this special needs parent gig a lot easier.  Parenting in general is tough, but for us it can at times be even harder.  I'm starting to see Deacon being treated differently.  I have to try really hard to not let it strongly affect me, because I know that this is only the beginning.  And of course, everything in me just wants to protect him from the harsh reality of this world.

Just the other day, I left him by himself in a play place and came back to find two little boys repeatedly throwing balls directly at his face.  He didn't realize what was going on and just laughed, but it was evident when I called them out on it that they were intentionally trying to be mean to him.  This type of behavior doesn't have to be taught.  Even at their young age, it's in their human nature and just comes naturally.  What does have to be taught, however, is how to be kind to one another.  That does not always come as easily.  Cause, trust me, my natural instincts of what I wanted to say or do to those boys when I saw them trying to hurt my son were not good ones.  But I know that they are young, don't know any better, and need to be taught how to treat each other with respect.

A few days ago, Noah randomly asked me, "Mom, if somebody makes fun of Deacon, and I punch them in the face and then go to the Principal's office for it, would you be mad at me?"

Caught off guard (and laughing in my head),  I replied with, "Well first of all, Son, you're home-schooled,  so I'm pretty sure your not going to a principal's office.  Secondly, if someone is mean to Deacon, you should not immediately resort to violence.  You should try to educate them.  Tell them about how awesome your brother is.  Inform them about how people with Down Syndrome are very much like them, and they should try to get to know them instead of making fun of them."

I challenge anyone reading this post to take that last piece of advice as well.  If you don't already, get to know someone not like you and learn to appreciate their differences instead of making fun of them.  Of course, I'm partial to Down Syndrome,  but it could also be anyone with some form of disability.   Or maybe just somebody that doesn't look or act like you do or think they should.   Talk to them.  Invest time in them.  Stand up for them.  I promise you will find much more pleasure in that than you will using someone else's imperfections as your source of entertainment.  And then share what you've learned with others.   

At the end of our discussion I added, "BUT if you are nice to them and do your best to tell them all of that and they refuse listen?  If they are STILL hateful and do or say mean things to Deacon? Well then, to answer your, I would not be mad at you.  Not at all."

Parents especially, I urge you to lead by example for your children in a good way.  Be a model of the Golden Rule and teach them to treat others as they would want to be treated.  For the sake of my child's future and yours.  Cause I'd hate for my kid to have to punch your kid in the face.  I'm kidding! I'm kidding!  Sort of.

(Insert Deacon emoji)

I'm not casting any stones here, because Lord knows I have been guilty in the past.  And there are still times that I have to stop myself from passing judgement in other ways.  But that is why I thank God for giving me Deacon to teach me lessons that I may not have learned otherwise. 

Words cannot begin to express how proud I am of my son.  Especially after today.  As with my other kids, I love everything about him.  He's got a good sense of humor like his Daddy, a spunky personality like his Sister, a tender-heart like his Brother, and a stubborn streak like his Momma.  But he also brings qualities of his own to the table.  He's got a serious destructive side that can tear down a house in a matter a minutes, a smile that lights up a room, a belly laugh that is nothing short of contagious, and an enthusiasm for life like none other.  I know I've said a lot of this before, and I'm sure I will say it again, but when we look at him, we just see him as Deacon and not a diagnosis.  It is our hope and prayer that others will look at him the same, and that he will be treated with the respect and dignity that he deserves.  That we ALL deserve.