when I went topick Lila up from school I could tell something wasn't right.
Lila walked out with her para, as she always does. But today she walked with her head down when normally she runs to me with outstretched arms as she hollers "Mom!"
Today was different.
I asked her para if it was a rough day. She told me that it was, but not because of anything Lila had done. She told me what happened while Lila stood and looked down at her feet.
There was an incident in PE today. The kindergarten class was playing a game. When Lila took her turn the kids couldn't understand her.
They started laughing at her. She asked them not to laugh at her. They kept laughing. Her para stepped in and told them that it wasn't nice to laugh at people. Where the teacher was I'm not sure.
I'm sure this isn't the first time that Lila has had her feelings hurt at school.
(I'm fairly sure it won't be the last.) It's just the first time anyone has told us about it.
All the way home Lila said over and over, "My friends laugh at me. They can't understand me when I talk."
These situations come without warning. You don't get to think about what you should say, you don't get to rehearse. You have to act. Fast.
I told my sad little girl that I was sorry her friends hurt her feelings. And I was sorry that they couldn't understand her when she took her turn at the game. And I told her that was why Miss Julie was coming to see her every week. So she can work hard on talking so that people will be able to understand her.
We love Lila's school. We love her teachers, we love her para. We are fortunate that Lila attends a school where she is welcome in the general ed classroom.
There are little girls in Lila's class who are very sweet to her. They watch out for her. They treat her like she is a little sister. They don't treat her as an equal.
Lila gets invited to all of the birthday parties of classmates who send the invitations home in the backpacks. Lila gets invited to none of the birthday parties of classmates who don't send invitations home in the backpacks.
She is... One among them.
She is not... One of them.
The truth is... Lila is different. The other kids know it. Lila knows it.
I don't hate Down syndrome. I don't wish that Lila didn't have Down syndrome. Lila is exactly who she is supposed to be.
I am not sad that Lila has Down syndrome. I'm sad about the way being different is viewed in our society. Other. Less than.
Today I am tired. Tomorrow I will pick up the fight again. The fight for acceptance.
I will take my cues
from these sweet girls
who never, ever