growing up · growth mindset · OT · preschool · slice of life · speech

A Letter to Isabelle

Isabelle and I attended her new preschool's open house this afternoon. It took awhile, but eventually she was comfortable enough to start playing alongside a friend.
Isabelle and I attended her new preschool’s open house this afternoon. It took awhile, but eventually she was comfortable enough to start playing alongside a friend.

I’ve been recuperating from the surgery I had on August 12th. I haven’t written since August 11th. Earlier today my father told me, “you’re back to reality now. Start writing again.” (Thanks for the tough love, Dad!) So here I am.

I’m taking some inspiration from a piece Dana Murphy shared on Facebook last weekend.  It was written by Glennon Doyle Melton. I read it as her way of preparing herself to have a conversation with her son about being compassionate to others.  And it reminded me of a conversation I want to have with Isabelle before she starts her second year of preschool this week.  In fact, this conversation has been on my mind ever since I overheard her say, “He holds his marker like a baby,” about one of her peers after she learned how to properly hold a writing utensil this past March.  She starts school on Thursday so here’s my letter to Isabelle (which I’ll use as fodder for the conversation I will have with her tomorrow).

Dear Isabelle,

You start preschool this week. Well, one of the two. The other one starts after Labor Day. I can’t believe you’re going to be out of the house, doing some type of school, every weekday this school year. Sometimes I wonder if it’s too much school for a four-and-a-half-year-old… But you love your first preschool so hopefully you’ll love the second one too.

But that’s not what I want to discuss. Instead, I want to talk to you about struggling and kindness.

Struggle is defined as proceeding with difficulty or with great effort. I hated to watch you struggle to crawl, to stand, to walk, and — most of all — to talk. Things haven’t come easily for you.  You’ve exerted great effort to attain every goal you have reached.  And while I could look at those struggles as weakness, I’ve reframed them in my mind. You have an excellent work ethic.  You’re tenacious.  You have grit.  And that’s why you’ve been able to overcome your struggles.

I know you will continue to struggle with things in school.  And that is okay.  Everything happens for you. However, things often happen later than they do for your peers.  And while you might have to work harder to attain things that come naturally to other kids, I’ve come to believe it will make you a stronger adult since you’ll know what it is like to work diligently to do something.

You’ve overcome so much in the past two and a half years since your CAS diagnosis.  I am so proud of everything you’ve accomplished in speech and in OT.  And while I know you’ll have to continue to work at things, I know some things may actually be easier for you (e.g., using scissors, imaginative play, following classroom rules) than they will be for some of your peers who haven’t had as much practice as you at doing some of those things.  And that is okay.  Just because someone cannot do something you can do doesn’t mean they are a “baby.”  All it means is they haven’t mastered that skill yet.

It is important to stay calm if someone’s actions, behaviors, or habits annoy you. Trust me, I know from experience, that’s really hard to do.  But part of being a good friend is being patient.  And part of being patient is being a kind person.  Instead of making someone feel bad if they cannot do something as well as you, you can show them how to do it (if they want your help).  And if they don’t want your help, you can play together or do something together both can do.  We want to make our friends feel good.  Being sweet towards others usually makes people happy.

When given the choice between being right and being kind, choose kind.

I hope you’ll be the kind of person who chooses to be kind, especially when you see a friend struggling.  That’s what I’d want for you if you were struggling.  I hope you’ll choose kind, again and again and again.

I hope this year is filled with happiness and growth. I look forward to watching you develop into a confident five-year-old this school year.  I hope life hands you an easier path — one that’s not riddled with struggles — in the years to come.  But if it doesn’t, I will be your biggest supporter — always.

Love,

Mommy

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.
growth mindset · slice of life · speech · Uncategorized

Speech Workout

SOLSC on TWTWe had an intensive home-speech therapy session this morning.  It started with me letting Isabelle pick what she wanted to work on.  The choices:

Isabelle wanted to do the puppy pages first.  Of course she did!  Who could resist the cute dogs in the book?

But the thing is, the work she had to do wasn’t so easy.  She had to name actions using nouns, verbs, and objects.  She had to combine different levels of bisyllabics, polysyllabics, and final consonant words.  The workout book reminds parents (or SLPs) not to stress about proper grammar yet.  As a writer, I initially wanted to stress about this, but I’ve come to realize it’s more important for my child to be able to move her mouth, tongue, and jaw in a variety of ways so she can put together simple sentences.

I recorded Isabelle using my iPhone’s voice memo app this morning. I did it so I could play back what she said… so she could hear herself. Once she went down for a nap this afternoon, I uploaded the files to SoundCloud because I want to share with others, like you, dear reader, how hard my little one is working.  Children with Apraxia don’t have words rolling off of their tongues like kids without Apraxia.  It’s HARD work for them.  And boy did she have a speech workout this morning!  Take a listen:


I’m sharing the next sound file since it includes her frustration towards the end of it. I know some things are so tricky for my daughter to say, but yet she perseveres in the face of something that’s really tricky.  (Granted, it sometimes takes a lot of encouragement from the cheering section — me — but it’s worth it in the end!)  Apraxia isn’t always pretty or perfect.  And that’s okay.  Because my daughter has a growth mindset, which is allowing her to make progress with her talking, which will ultimately help her in other aspects of her life.