the remains of a year



A rising first grader

A worn-out backpack

A year’s worth of drawings, paintings and loosely defined ‘sculpture’

Two meticulously written stories – painstakingly created, one word – one letter – at a time

Photographs – of a backpack, snack bag, jacket and folder – prompts from a year’s worth of morning routines

Brooke’s name from the classroom door – decorated, made her own

Scraps of wrapping paper and brightly colored tissue – the small tokens of our gratitude that they held now distributed to each teacher and therapist and specialist who touched our babies’ lives this year – fourteen in all

Priceless notes from teachers – telling us that they not only taught, but learned from our baby girl

Gratitude – for all of those who were there day in and day out

Four little girls who Brooke calls friends – whose names are so often strung together into one long word

A date for a trip to the zoo

Skills – myriad new tools in the toolbox – too many to count

Language – ‘what’ and ‘why’, past tense , the wonder of words, phrases, sentences



A little girl who walked through the hallways of her school – so different than the one who HAD to be carried there just one year ago



A mother’s pride – bathing in reams of evidence that the year was a success by so many measures

A progress report and IEP goals handed back – some met, most – more than 60% – still marked ‘progressing’

More than 60%

Nagging doubt – Did we walk blindly through the year, deluding ourselves? Was our vigilance misplaced? Did we fail our baby girl? Did she really learn what she needed to learn? Were the goals unrealistic? Did we set the bar too high?

An appointment with our neuropsych / guru to find out

Successes – in their own way  – in Brooke’s own way – that can’t be discounted no matter what he says

15 thoughts on “the remains of a year

  1. Give that doubt a good hard shove, Jess.
    You know Brooke. You know how amazing she is; how far she has come. 60%? so what? She’ll do what she does in her time. She already has.

  2. Love the last line. YOU know. Don’t let the doubt steal one iota from all that Brooke has achieved this year. There are some successes that simply cannot be quantified in an IEP. And those are the ones that usually mean the most.

  3. I kind of look at it this way:

    We (adults) have the benefit of hindsight and intuition honed over years of living. Brooke is just testing her limits and capabilities. She’s scaled (her current) Mt. Everest 60% of the way; no mean feat for the first time out.

    You’ve all come so far so fast; follow Luau’s “half-full” lead on this one and boot that self-doubt, that Brooke-doubt, right off the mountain top!

  4. ok, so i probably should have written it differently .. but she only MET 39% of her goals .. 61% are marked PROGRESSING .. hence the angst

    but either way, i hear ya ladies – and will do my best to listen

  5. ruh roh. i was started to get a lil’ anxious when i got to the 60% part of the post.

    then you wrote that last line.

    yes. YOU know.

    as our neuropsych guru said to me – “there are things that the IEP just doesn’t cover. ”

    i think this falls in that category.

    stay strong, thelma.

  6. I have worked with children for 45 years and using all that experience and mixing incredible amounts of love, I will tell you that your baby girl has come miles and miles this year.
    Sometimes it is much more important to revel in the sucesses and not jump to the introspection and self doubts as our first or even second reaction.
    Your baby does things, and enjoys things, and people a million miles from her past. She keeps growing with all the work of all the people and the tons of love from her Mommy and Daddy and of course her big sister.
    Kudos to our Brooke and that’s all there is to that. The other stuff is for another day.
    I love you!!!!!!

  7. I used to beat myself up about the fact that Justin couldn’t perform the basic skill of identifying colors. But, in the past year, he’s learned to go potty by himself, wash his hands independently,answer “what” and “who” questions and, most importantly, started calling me “Mommy”. And he still can’t tell the difference between red and yellow. Keep the faith and focus your energy on her accomplishments. The rest will happen on her timetable.

  8. Jess, look back at the pictures. Don’t they say it all? Just look at the changes in her… the awareness, the engagement, the interest she shows, more and more. She, and you, and all of her teachers, and Luau and Katie are all incredible!

  9. I love this post. It speaks to me and to my guy. His IEP for first grade, he did not meet a single goal and that hurt. As a mom I felt the same things and questioned the same as you. As for what was learned – I learned about him, how he works, where he struggles, his learning style. Academically first grade was a waste of time, but you can’t deny all that we learned about HIM last year. Everything we learned that without a doubt will take him to greater heights in 2nd grade. The year was worth every second and every struggle. We are all more prepared and have a much better plan in place now and if it weren’t for a seemingly unrealistic IEP, we would never have learned so much.

  10. OK – So I read that as PROGRESSING! She has been, and she will. Unrealistic? Goals too high? Phooey! That’s how you progress. Set ’em high and reach for them. That’s progress. Doubt not, because she wouldn’t be where she is today (leaps and bounds ahead) if not for both (you and Luau) of your goals for your baby girl and your family.

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