What does progress look like? In every child progress is measured differently. I used to think that I knew what that sort of a statement meant but I didn’t. Not really. What I thought I knew was based on my own experience, based on my own growth and development. It was based on the idea that anything is possible if you just try hard enough.
And that’s false. Oooooh, what a dangerous thing to say in this world that worships positive thinking. The truth is that there are things that are out of reach for each of us. And for some of us there is quite a lot out of reach.
My daughter’s development is delayed. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll know that. There are things that just take longer. Sometimes a lot longer. And we all have to admit that there are some things that won’t ever come.
Because I’m a positive thinker by nature I won’t venture to guess what those things are.
Because I’m a realist I know that they are out there.
Rather than pre-determine them I’ll let her determine them.
That means that even when I doubt I just keep teaching anyway.
Cause and effect is one of those illusive things. Ask her why she is in trouble and she doesn’t know. Honestly, no clue. You can get as angry as you want and she still won’t know why she is in trouble.
So tonight we went to gymnastics and I knew that it wasn’t going to be a good night based on the scant hour I had with her between school and leaving the house. Her behavior was off, verbal functioning was almost non-existent and perseverance was high. But off we go because we don’t stop trying.
15 minutes into practice she is walking up the stands toward me. The teacher has sent her to sit in the stands. Why? She doesn’t know. I nod unsurprised. Do you need a hair tie or something? No. Are you in trouble? No. Are you sure? Yes. A few moments pass. Maybe I’m in trouble. Why? I don’t know. Okay, let’s go ask. So we ask and learn that Ana was sent to the stands because she was on the trampoline when she wasn’t supposed to be. 5 minutes in the stands. So we go back to the stands and sit.
It takes a few minutes to establish what time it is and what time it will be when the 5 minutes is over. Then I ask, did you know that you shouldn’t use the equipment you aren’t working on? Yes. And when you got on the trampoline did you know that you weren’t supposed to be on it? Yes. So what did you think was going to happen?
There is a bit of a silence during which I’m expecting her to answer - I don’t know. That would be typical, and at that moment I believed that I might get that answer for the rest of my life and hers. But because I hope I still have to ask.
And then she said an astonishing thing, she said, I thought I wouldn’t get caught.
I wish I could express just how happy and astounded I was. This is such a large step forward in reasoning and self realization that I am beyond pleased to downright dizzy.
She is having fun in class right now and during the lulls in action she is picking her toenails, chomping her nails, pulling her cuticles, and flossing her teeth with a plucked hair. The stress of the day is tearing her apart from the inside out. What a cost there is to these steps forward.
Progress is different for each child. Very very different and I would never understand that if I hadn’t been blessed with this special child. So I am blessed and I am learning. And Thanks be to God, so is she.