I've heard it said the days are long but the years fly. No truer words were ever said. It's like labor and delivery...that moment is excruitiating and exciting, painful and meaningful and then it's over...as fast as they are here, it is gone and all of the sudden - they are 15, 11, 5 and 3. There are times I can't get over how they view the world...so naive, so innocent, so sure of themselves.
My favorite Ava moment was when she started fifth grade - the very one she is leaving now - and told me about Holly. Holly was her friend. Her new, favorite friend. Holly only liked to swing even though Ava liked to climb and run. They were matched in everyway yet the playground forced Ava to swing if she wanted to be with Holly. She never told me anything other than how much Holly liked to swing and would only do that. Ava didn't mind, she never voiced any objection but I used this as a teaching moment. I felt it best to express to Ava how it was okay to ask Holly to do something SHE liked to do. I was teaching Ava compassion for herself - to also tend to her own needs but Ava seemed fine where she was - swinging with Holly. I wouldn't let it go. It was my responsibility as a parent to mold this person into not becoming a martyr...memories of my own upbringing :)
Then I went to back to school night. I met all of Ava's friends' parents and had a chance to view this world through Ava's eyes and see what kind of kid my kid likes. And then it happened...I met Holly's mom. A sweet, smiling lady walking up to me with an arm extended. She had heard so much about Ava she wanted to meet me - sure, I thought but even more eager to meet Holly, I shook her hand and told her that Ava, too, loved her daughter. Ava ran from my side to greet Holly who walked a few steps behind her mom. Without missing a beat, Ava scooted kids out of the way and walked beside her friend...Holly with her walker. Y'see Holly has cerebal palsy. She smiled at Ava and Ava back at her. And then I saw it all...Holly would swing because it's all she could do and Ava didn't mind...and never said to me she was disabled because Ava never saw it. In Ava's world, Holly was her friend and they would swing and Ava was happy. It was sympatico. And at that moment, I became the student and Ava, the teacher. If only I could see possibility over limitation...swinging over climbing. I realized Ava needed no teaching moments from me. I actually needed to sit down, shut up and open a notebook while Ava took to the lecture circuit. Ava saw only her friend and her friend saw acceptance in Ava. It was the marriage of a perfect moment between them. I was breathless with both pride and shame.
Who I was changed at that moment. From that day forward, I pledged to Ava to look at the world and at people differently...through the eyes of my 11 year old who saw her friend as someone who wants to swing, not someone who can't do anything else. Possibility over limitation. Who knew?