when I went topick Lila up from schoolI 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 normallyshe runs to me withoutstretched 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 anythingLila had done.She told me whathappened while Lilastood and looked downat her feet.
There was an incidentin PE today.The kindergarten classwas playing a game.When Lila took her turnthe kids couldn't understand her.
They started laughing at her. She asked them not to laugh at her.They kept laughing.Her para stepped inand told them thatit wasn't nice to laugh at people.Where the teacher was I'm not sure.
I'm sure this isn't thefirst time that Lila hashad her feelings hurt at school.
(I'm fairly sure it won't be the last.) It's just the first time anyone has told usabout it.
All the way home Lila saidover and over,"My friends laugh at me.They can't understand mewhen I talk."
These situations comewithout warning.You don't get to think aboutwhat you should say,you don't get to rehearse.You have to act.Fast.
I told my sad little girl thatI was sorry her friendshurt her feelings.And I was sorry that theycouldn't understand her whenshe took her turn at the game. And I told her that was whyMiss Julie was coming to see her every week.So she can work hardon talking so that peoplewill be able to understand her.
We love Lila's school.We love her teachers,we love her para. We are fortunate that Lila attends aschool where she iswelcome in thegeneral ed classroom.
There are little girlsin Lila's class who arevery sweet to her.They watch out for her. They treat her like sheis a little sister.They don't treat her as an equal.
Lila gets invited to all of the birthday partiesof classmates who send theinvitations home in the backpacks.Lila gets invited to none ofthe birthday parties ofclassmates 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 hateDown syndrome.I don't wish thatLila didn't haveDown syndrome.Lila is exactly whoshe is supposed to be.
I am not sad thatLila has Down syndrome.I'm sad aboutthe way being differentis viewed in our society.Other.Less than.
Today I am tired.Tomorrow I willpick up the fight again.The fight for acceptance.
I will take my cues
from these sweet girls
who never, ever