I cried all the way home, and I am not a crier.
Yesterday was the second day of first grade for my precious little peanut. It was the first day that the kids were instructed to put their back packs by the classroom door and then head out to the playground to play until the bell rang. Then they line up on the basket ball court.
Yesterday, as we walked to the play area, a sweet little girl came up to my daughter, Ryan, and talked to her. They then grabbed hands and went to the play structure together. My heart was overwhelmed with joy.
You see my daughter is different. She has a chromosomal abnormality. She is the only one one the world with her particular differentiation, and the bottom line is that too much genetic information is not how things are supposed to be.
She doesn't really talk. Her "run" is not like a typical 7 year old, because getting her body to do what is natural for others is a lot of work for her.
For Ryan, learning is difficult but loving is easy.
Yesterday the morning was blessed. Today the morning broke my heart.
The same little girl was there, so I encouraged Ryan to go play with her. Ryan tried to grab her hand, but the little girl pulled away. Ryan followed her into the play area, but the little girl turned her back on Ryan and went in the other direction.
I watched my daughter be rejected.
This summer I grieved the loss of kindergarten for this very reason. In kindergarten there was an amazing teacher who--long before Ryan was in her class--considered kindness to be the most important thing you could ever teach. She looked at Ryan as a huge gift to her and the other students. Every day I knew Ryan was safe, cherished and valued.
How can I bear, with grace, the devastating reality my daughter must face?
HE will mold me, and SHE will show me. As I breathed deeply and continued to watch I notice two things:
- Ryan didn't skip a beat. She went to the play structure, climbed to the top of the slide, looked to make sure I was watching and slid down. She did the same thing over and over again, laughing the whole time.
- The other little girl didn't find any one else to play with. She never smiled, and actually looked a bit lonely.
After Ryan had "conquered" the slide 6 or 7 times she bobbed out to me and gave me a big hug. When she walked into the classroom, she was all smiles and big waves.
She was okay. I was a mess.
My husband and I did not know there was anything special until after Ryan was born. When she was two days old and in the hospital, my pediatrician came to examine her. When he finished he said, "I am so, so sorry. But I would put your baby in the category of there's something not right, but I don't what it is."
I said to him, "Well...I painted on the wall above her crib, 'And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good.' I guess it is time for me to figure out if I really believe that."
In high school English I didn't realize that Flowers for Algernon was preparing me for my life. A life I wouldn't trade, a life that I love...but I don't love those moments when it is hard for my kids. Even though, in this case, it WASN'T hard for my daughter; it was hard for me.
And so she went into her day smiling, and I got into my van, turned on Christian music and cried. I let the songs remind me that God is in control. He loves her more than I do. He loves me more than I love her.
I am not sure how that is possible.
I am not sure how to survive the fragile state of my mother's heart.
"And God looked at all He had made, and indeed it was very good." Genesis 1:31