Thursday, June 14, 2012

A great school year!

As I put Anna Cate to bed tonight and watched her after she fell asleep, I can't believe that tonight was the last night she will go to bed as a 3rd grader!  Where has the time gone?

While I was looking down at her I also started to think about what would Anna Cate be like and what would she be into if she didn't have Rett Syndrome.  Looking at all the kids run off the bus asking their friends to sign their yearbooks, talking about the summer camps that they are going to, how they are doing swim team, where they are going on vacation always makes me sad for Anna Cate.  I wish so badly that she could be like her friends and run off the bus laughing and giggling with no cares in the world!  I have these thoughts just about every day.

But then I thought, Anna Cate has friends running up to HER to want to sign HER yearbook, Anna Cate has a camp at HER house where HER friends come to be with HER (this summer Camp Amica is FULL all three sessions with a total of 31 girls over three weeks!), Anna Cate doesn't participate in swim team, but she will be at the pool all summer, and Anna Cate is going on vacation to the beach TWICE this summer!  In a way she is just like them, or she is just like them as much as she can be with Rett Syndrome and that is all I have wanted!

The quote, "Enjoy the little things in life...for one day you'l look back and realize they were the big things", really hit me tonight and what prompted me to write.

I replayed in my head the year we just had and what a GREAT year it was!  To me a great school year for Anna Cate isn't about the academics, but about her having the most typical school experiences she can have like her peers.

I remember when we first started at her school in first grade with her initial IEP meeting,  I told her team, teaching her academics wasn't important to me, that was a bonus.  What was important to me for Anna Cate was that I wanted to her to not only have friends, but friendships.  I didn't want her growing up and going to school without friends by her side.  If the academics come, awesome, but creating friendships was a top priority to me.

In first and second grade Anna Cate definitely had friends, lots of them.  And a couple in second grade turned into true friendships.  But third grade, I can honestly say friendships were made!  It was so beautiful to see!  Anna Cate had two great friends at the beginning of the year and these two girls really bonded with Anna Cate.  The rest of the girls in the class over time watched how they interacted with Anna Cate and wanted to learn from their friends.  Anna Cate was teaching them about her and her friends were teaching other students about Anna Cate!

Today was Anna Cate's end of the year party for her typical 3rd grade class and it was so touching to see the girls surround her with love.  You can tell that they truly care for her and want to be her friend.  And the smile on Anna Cate's face that she gets from them can light up a room!  I hope that Anna Cate will be in the same class as many of these sweet girls next year!  They truly made 3rd grade extra special for Anna Cate!

As I was leaving today, I thanked her teacher for believing in Anna Cate and for a wonderful year.  She told me that it was wonderful having Anna Cate in the class and how the kids learned so much from her.  She also said she has to often tell the girls to give Anna Cate space as they fight over her!  Right after she said this, we looked over and there were 5 girls all around Anna Cate....and she said, you see what I mean....she is one popular little girl!

Of course Anna Cate rocked the academics this year too!  She started to learn how to read and spell words independently by typing them out on her computer!  And this was the first year she had to take standardized tests and rocked ALL of them!

Here's to Anna Cate having a fantastic 3rd grade year one that I will remember forever.  The year Anna Cate found true friends who believed in her and helped others to believe in her too!  Kyla, Maddie, Alexis, Ellie, and Susie thank you for bringing so much joy to Anna Cate's life!