Dear Ms D,
I wanted to explain.
You see, I know that your end of year thank you gift is .. well, a bit unconventional.
It’s actually, though you won’t know this, representative of my journey toward true acceptance of my daughter’s differences, but we’ll get back to that.
You see, we were looking for a small token – something that would somehow acknowledge our gratitude for all that you do for her every day. And when we say, “our” I really mean “my” but we’ll get back to that too — another time.
So there we were, wandering around the shop in the mall, when Brooke handed me the foot. And she said with a smile, “Let’s get THIS for Ms D!” And, without thinking, I said, “Oh, honey, that’s silly!”
And she said,”YOU find something. I’m going to go out THERE,” as she pointed out of the shop and to the fountain that she loves to watch in the middle of the mall. So I asked Katie to go outside with her so that I could find an “appropriate” gift.
And as I searched for something that wasn’t a foot, I heard Brooke’s voice in my head saying, “YOU find something.”
But this time, I felt the weight of it, and I heard the sting of rejection in it, and I internalized the accusation packaged inside the words.
And I realized just how callous and hurtful my off-handed dismissal of HER idea had been.
This is the first year that Brooke has been involved — truly involved — in the process of choosing teacher gifts from start to finish. This is the first time that she’s come with me for EVERY shopping trip and helped to choose items for everyone. The very first time. And when she made her choice, I allowed my need for conformity to overshadow the beauty of her burgeoning self-determination.
So I turned around and went back for the foot. I brought it to the cashier and asked for a gift bag for it. And when Brooke and Katie came back into the shop, I showed it to Brooke on the counter, there with all of our other carefully chosen tokens of gratitude.
My journey is imperfect, my evolution woefully incomplete. But I’m getting there. Because I love my girl and I am trying to remember that honoring her choices, no matter how unconventional, matters. And because I know you. And I think I’m right to assume that you’d prefer a foot from my girl than something perfectly appropriate that she really had nothing to do with choosing.
Thank you, Ms D. For everything that you do.
I really hope you enjoy your foot.