Random Ramblings from the Watsons

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Help your babies to accept mine

We were a bit late for kinder this morning, and all the littlies were playing outside.  As I pulled up, most of the kids stopped what they were doing, and ran towards the fence, yelling "Georgia!  Georgia's here!"  They waited patiently while I unpacked her stroller, and then surrounded her as we walked in, all chattering away at her.  Georgia gave her usual aloof turn of the head, though I could tell she was delighted, as a slight smile twitched on the corner of her lips, and her eyes twinkled.   Georgia doesn't like to give too much away, but I can see that she is finally realising what it feels like to be part of a group - to be ACCEPTED.  And as I drove away, I realised how desperately I don't want that to change.

The decision enrol Georgia in mainstream 4yo kinder was only made late last year.  I had sent her to a 3yo kinder program at the special school where I plan for to do her to be educated.  She was to do the 4yo program there too, before starting prep in 2013...but a little plan started forming in my mind about sending her to mainstream kinder, the same one all her sisters went to, and when I contacted them, I found that they would welcome her with open arms.  The deal was sealed after I chatted with Georgia's retired case worker from Vision Australia, Rob (who I am lucky enough to call a friend now).  He was delighted with the idea, and said that it would be as good for the other kids as it would be for Georgia.  As he said, "you can't fail sandpit!"  I relished the idea of being a "normal" kinder mum for one more year.  And I realised that this is the last mainstream thing that Georgia would ever do, where she is on a relatively level playing field.

The kids all accept her so readily, so unconditionally.  She doesn't really understand how to play with other kids in any sort of exchange yet, but they don't mind.  The teachers say that during free play, other kids bring toys etc and just sit near her to play, just wanting to be around her, and when they are around the table, there is quite a competition to sit with her.  I think as kids, they can feel her gentle aura, something that has touched all of us at home, and pretty much everyone who has ever met her.

Sadly, I know it won't always be this way.  Most of the kids at my 3 older girls primary school know Georgia now, from seeing her at school pick up's etc.  My blood ran cold when my eldest child (now 8) came home last year from school, and asked me what a "retard" was, as someone had told her her sister was one.  I knew it was coming, but it was pretty hard to explain to such a small child that people were sometimes unkind because her sister was different to them.  That she was going to have to learn to stand her ground, and stand up for herself, and her sister, because there was going to be more of it.

At the same time though, I taught her how to educate.  To always be ready to answer questions about her sister.  Initially kids are matter of fact - they just want to know.  And the way we tell them is very important.  But the real responsibility lies with parents, and the attitudes that we pass onto our children.

So, if your kids go to kinder with Georgia, or any other child with special needs, and they ask you questions, take the time to sit down and answer them.  You can do that in any way you think is suitable for your child at their age level, as long as it comes from a place of kindness, not ignorance, or fear.  Kids learn to fear what they don't understand, and once that happens, it might already be too late.  Teach them how to be kind, how to tolerate, how it is never ok to use words such as spastic, and retard, and how to tell your mates it's not ok if you hear them saying it.  And honestly, don't use these words yourself.  Just don't.

Until this morning I couldn't have known what it would mean to me to see Georgia embraced as part of a group, to see her start to recognise it...and to wear my heart pinned on the outside of my chest, exposed...realising how easily that can be taken away from her, and that probably, one day it will.

It's a big call, but maybe with your help, that won't happen.

1 comment:

  1. I love reading your blogs Jules. It is heart warming to here how Georgia is doing, the last time I saw her she was in the SCN in Frankston so helpless and just beautiful, like the other 3. Keep them coming :)
    Susan x