Monday, October 31, 2016

A School Party

I took a vacation day from work last Friday and helped at Olivia’s school Halloween party. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the years to be able to attend these parties with the girls.

I’m also lucky that they WANT me at the parties. Ha!

These parties are completely parent-led. We moms (and the occasional dad, there was one there this year, he’s totally a hero) plan the games, snacks, crafts, etc. We separate the kids into four or five ‘centers’ and then divide them into groups of three or four (and sometimes five) and put them in a center for about ten minutes where they get to play a game, do a craft or eat snacks.

This year Jaxon got to join me in Olivia’s class. His school was on fall break and so I invited him to come to O’s school party. His school doesn’t do parties of any kind so he was sort of in awe of this one.

I’m lucky that O’s teacher and all the other parents were so accommodating and just rolled with having one more kid in the room. Jax and O decided they wanted to be in the same group. He really is one of her very favorite people in the whole world and I was really glad they got to spend time together.

Olivia was acting up a little (flapping her hands, being giggly) because her mind was blown by the fact that her worlds were colliding. I mean, there we were, in her classroom at school and right beside her was Jaxon, the most awesome cousin in the world. And her mom was across the room helping kids make haunted houses out of craft paper.

I think the best part of the party, though, was when one of her classmates at my center asked me if Olivia talked at home. I get this question every year. I always answer the same way. “Oh yes, she talks at home,” I informed the boy. “Sometimes she talks so much and so loud that I have to ask her to quiet down for a few minutes just because I can’t get a word in.”

The boy laughed and said, “I’d like to hear her talk. She’s really shy, isn’t she?”

And there it is. Her class really seems to like Olivia. They don’t see her as a girl with a syndrome. They see her as this cute, funny girl who is really shy.

Way back when she was two years old and we finally got her diagnosis, her doctor told us that the fact that her face doesn’t give her syndrome away might be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, she looks ‘normal’ and so people expect her to act normal. This is what some parents have taken to calling an ‘invisible disability.’

On the other hand, looking ‘normal’ is a benefit because, well, people treat her like she’s ‘normal.’ They don’t see a child with a syndrome, they see Olivia. They see a shy girl who doesn’t talk much (at all?) and thankfully, they all like her enough to want her to talk.

I have hope that we’ll get there. I told the boy who asked the question that I hope she’ll talk to all of her classmates by fifth grade.

His eyes got huge. “Fifth grade?!?” he said. “I hope we don’t have to wait that long!”

Me neither buddy, but I’m being conservative here. For now, I’m glad she participates, that she can do everything currently being asked of her in a typical, mainstream classroom. I’m thankful that she’s accepted and that she still enjoys being at school.

And I’m thankful that I get to be there for moments like that Halloween party, to see her being silly, to see her classmates enjoying her antics and to see her cousin bring out even a little of her awesome personality for those who don’t always get to see it.

Can you stand the Draculaura awesomeness of this girl?

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