Wednesday, September 9, 2009
At the back-to-school night at Annie's school, a little girl who remembered Annie from last year came up to say hello, and then looked up at me and asked, "Is she going into the 'highly capable' class this year?"
I couldn't help but smile at that innocent question. Then I said, "Aahh, close." Not exactly 'highly capable', I thought, but close.
Her mom steered her away from Annie and said, "She is going to a classroom that's just perfect for her, because she is just right the way she is." Hmm, I thought. That's a kind thing to say, but not quite accurate, either.
As I wheeled Annie down the hallway filled with kids walking hand in hand with their parents, my mind drifted back to the Annie who knew where all the states fit in her United States puzzle, and could tell me which aunt or uncle lived in which state....the Annie who memorized scripture that corresponded to each letter of the alphabet, but never made it past "M is for My grace is sufficient for you." And the Annie who loved to sing:
Shout to the North and the South,
sing to the East and the West,
Jesus is Savior to all,
Lord of heaven and earth!
As I turned the corner into Annie's Lifeskills classroom, my mind snapped back to our current reality of hanging with the kids whose bodies and brains fight against all their best efforts to be "normal." In Miss Amanda's cheerfully decorated classroom this year will be kids in wheelchairs, kids with autism, and kids like Annie who have 3 or 4 different diagnoses. It will be a motley crew. But also in this classroom will be a young teacher who has dedicated her life to drawing out of these little minds moments of understanding, and new skills achieved after months and months of painstaking repetition. And with her will be the same team of para-educators from last year--committed professionals who find working with these kids to be a fulfilling and rewarding vocation.
No, Annie is no longer the "highly capable" little girl of my memory. All of her successes and achievements are now measured in tiny increments, not great leaps. And I know it will take months and months of painstaking repetition for me to change my definition of success.
M is for My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9