I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks. ~William Shakespeare
It’s the last day of the school year. For my big girl, it is also the last day of her elementary school career. For the life of me, I don’t know how that happened, but here I now sit – the mom of a rising middle schooler and a blossoming adolescent.
For my little one, it’s the end of third grade. Looking at the photos I took yesterday at her sister’s graduation, I can’t deny that she looks every bit the part of the rising fourth grader.
The days may be long, but the years keep getting shorter and shorter.
As we close out the year, I’d like to thank the people who supported my girls this year. Some who have for years, some who crossed our paths for the first time in September.
You may not see it every day, but the impact that you have on the children in your care is immeasurable. Just ask Katie, who still smells a brand new book as soon as she cracks it open because her beloved kindergarten teacher taught her that there was nothing better than New Book Smell. For the rest of her life, with every new book, every journey through the written word, she will remember you.
To the speech therapists who worked so diligently with my girl. Who pushed and prodded and dug and cajoled, who rewarded and celebrated and reveled in success. Who sifted through the What to get to the Why. Who gave and continue to give my girl the tools to be understood. There is no greater, more fundamental gift.
To the literacy specialist who gave my girl the gift of reading – the golden key to the door that leads to so many new worlds. Who searched for topics that would hold her attention. Who knew that reading means far more than decoding letters on a page, but processing, understanding, translating, internalizing, owning. Who never gave up.
To the Social Thinking guru who gave my girl the tools to interact with her peers in a way that they could understand. Who didn’t just think outside the box but who said to hell with the box. Who knew that kids ain’t made for boxes. Whose face lit up when she told us about the golden moments of true connection with our girl. Who adores her.
To the inclusion specialist who sat down with us when things weren’t working and figured out how to make them work. Who devised a math curriculum that would finally be accessible to our girl. Who knew that math could be far more than graphs and worksheets and equations. Who took it out of the classroom and into the kitchen.
To the classroom teacher who lives and breathes inclusion. Who took pride in her accomplishments. Who found ways to connect with our girl. Who gave her responsibility. And who lives his truth and in so doing has created a world for my children in which it is perfectly normal for a man to have a loving husband and two beautiful little girls. To whom I am so grateful for that alone.
To the occupational therapist who stepped outside her comfort zone to devise a sensory diet for our girl. Who understood the very real connection between anxiety and movement. Who made the rest of the day possible.
To Brooke’s aide. My God, I have no idea where to begin. Who loved my child as if she were her own. Who nearly burst with pride when she finally – FINALLY – learned to swing. Who told me that there was a fire alarm at school one day not long after the smoke alarm had gone off in our house. Who said, “She asked to hold my hand. And I know that I’m not supposed to hold her hand, but Jess, if it was going to make her feel better after everything she’d been through, well, I’m sorry, but I held her hand.” Whose presence made it all work. To whom I’d really like to give a pony.
Damn it, I’m running out of time. There are so many more to thank.
To Katie’s teacher. Who talked with me long into the evening about my girl. Who understood. Who promised to look out for her. Who did.
To the art teacher, who lights the hallways with her smile. Who created a world inside the art room in which my kids were free. Who has Katie swearing she wants to be an art teacher when she grows up.
To our beloved PE teacher. Whose presence made us all feel safe. Who was the soul of the school. Who looked out for our kids like no one I’ve ever seen. Who ate pretend turtle soup at recess. Who gently grabbed the kid having trouble and reminded her to breathe. Who changed us all.
To the school secretary. Whose office was a sanctuary. Who never minded when her shelves were rearranged. Who saw my little one’s progress and never failed to comment on it.
To the ones who simply looked out for my kids. Who let Brooke wander into their room on her breaks. Who made Katie laugh when things weren’t easy. Who thought hard and answered Brooke when she asked her favorite question – “How do you say your name backwards?” Who asked Katie how she was. Who cared.
To all the teachers and therapists out there,
What you do matters.
You change lives.
And I’m sorry that we don’t tell you nearly enough,
But we are grateful.