Sometimes I wish I lived in a perfect world for Eslea. One where the r-word is never used. One where everyone can see how beautiful and special she really is. How she is just like them. Just like you. Just like me. But I don't, not yet anyway. So still I have to face the harsh words and views almost daily of those who choose to still see people who are maybe a little different as something less.
I have written before about the use of the r-word at my school. Working around teenagers you hear many things and you learn to tune them out. You also learn to develop a hard shell when it comes to the words that can flow from an impulse driven teenager. Knowing that my super mom armor springs on quickly, along with one mighty fine cape, when I am faced with a need to defend my Eslea, I was very surprised at the reaction I had to a recent incident.
It was one rainy afternoon (yes, that's how I'm starting) and I again had the awesome duty of monitoring the cafeteria. Now let me tell you, if you have not had the wonderful opportunity of "duty" in the educational system, you are missing out my friends. (cough, cough) One of my senior students approaches me to discuss his graduation plan...or lack there of. Since transferring to our school system this student has made it known that he does not intend to graduate with his class but instead desires to return for a fifth year of high school. While we were discussing this he inquires what he will have to do during his fifth year in regards to exactly where he will be taking courses. Our school has a long standing policy that if a student can not finish in four years, he/she must attend alternative school during the fifth year. This prevents us from having 19-20 year-old students in the same classes with doe-eyed 14 year-old teenagers.
After explaining the policy to this student, he started to protest that although he is nineteen, he wants to stay on campus to study. I explained that only in rare circumstances could that happen and he must speak with the principal. Again, he probed and I explained that some students needed extra time to finish high school and were allowed to do so by the state.
This is his response....
"Oh, you mean like special ed students. I can pretend to be special ed."
He then proceeds to beat his hand on his chest while crossing his eyes and making the "dur" sound.
Yes. My armor was full on by the end of his little act. Red cloak blowing in the wind and all. I was a sight to behold, yet somehow I managed to keep my emotions and heart under control. It must have been my armor. (I did manage to mend the hole that was made from the doctor's visit.)
I just gave him a faint smile and said calmly...
"Did you know that my baby who was born this past year has down syndrome? I can assure you that she does not act that way."
I wish you could have seen his face. For about 10 seconds he was locked somewhere between a smile and shock. It was priceless. So wish I would have had my camera.
Learning how to say and do the right things in those moments is becoming easier. I am less quick to react and more likely to try assisting the person in learning. If I would have gotten mad, he would not have listened. Instead, I'm sure that it a lesson he will remember for many years to come.
This mama is proud to use her super powers for good. I can't wait till Eslea is bigger. We are going to make one awesome super team. Fighting ignorance one person at a time.
What about you and your little super family; how is your battle going in the war against ignorance?
The weekend is here and my family is taking a much needed break. Time for some rest and relaxation. Or, maybe if I can just get a few hours of sleep squeezed in between bathroom breaks, bottle fixing and washing that darn super cape.
I can dream anyway.