I love lists…usually. This list was different though.
I’d sat down, just to jot down a few things, so I wouldn’t forget what to say when the time came. Before I knew it, I’d filled an entire page, and had to turn my paper over and continue writing on the backside. There were phrases such as: EXTREMELY (underlined several times for emphasis) picky eater, routine oriented, lacks social boundaries, overly friendly with strangers….and on and on it went.
I looked at my paper, dumbfounded that there could even be that many things on the list. An overwhelming feeling of mingled dread, fear, and shame washed over me.
This was a list of everything “wrong” with my daughter. Everything that makes her supposedly “not normal.”
We don’t think of her this way. We love her exactly as she is. We spend our days living in the moment with her, and focusing on her strengths, her successes, her potential. To even have to sit down and compose a list like this about my child seemed so wrong. Unfortunately, my next step would be even more difficult. I would need to meet with a social worker and tell her all of this information, in hopes that my daughter would be considered “disabled enough” to get state waiver funding for the help and support she needs and deserves.
This is one of the hardest things for a special needs parent. It goes against all instincts.
As I sat there, unable to move from my chair, staring at THE LIST, my phone vibrated loudly on the counter, instantly snapping me back to reality. It was my mother. I was surprised, since we don’t get to talk on the phone too often these days.
She’d called to tell me that she had met one of the aides from Juliette’s classroom. My mom is a cashier at a grocery store, and the aide had come through her line. They were making small talk about their plans for the holidays with family. My mom mentioned her grandkids, and started listing off their names. When she said Lennon, the woman’s eyes lit up.
“Lennon?! He doesn’t have a sister, does he? Juliette?!”
“Yes! Juliette is my granddaughter. Do you know her?”
“I work in her classroom! Juliette is……well…..she has this…..MAGIC.”
She continued to talk at length about how sweet Juliette is, how adorable, and what a little fashionista! She said Juliette is a leader, always full of ideas and energy and positivity. She’s highly empathetic, constantly looking out for the other kids in her classroom, all of whom have various special needs. She is intelligent, and has a memory that is nothing short of amazing. She knows every word to every song, even after hearing them only once, and she encourages the nonverbal children to join in. She is just a pleasure to be around.
Linda raved about Juliette for a good ten minutes straight. She even said that her life is better because Juliette is a part of it. She had so many positive things to say, but the one that stood out was the word MAGIC. Because that’s exactly what she has…..who she IS.
There’s no denying that Juliette is DIFFERENT. But it’s the most amazing kind of difference. There’s just something about her, some incredibly strong, unmistakable magnetism that she possesses. Everyone around her senses it, and the reactions range from bewilderment to awe. The magic. It’s inside of her, and it shines through her clear, dark eyes. ❤
I listened to my mom recount this amazing conversation, and I thought….how opportune. This was exactly what I needed to be reminded of.
I got through the evaluation with the social worker. Juliette was approved for the waiver funding.
But as soon as the social worker walked out the door, I took the list, gave it one last disdainful glance, and tossed it right into the trash. Because that list of negative behaviors, deficits, delays, and differences…..that’s not who my daughter is.
She is MAGIC. And that is the only thing that matters. ❤