Today at work (I work at a church nursery a couple times a week, part-time), I was asked to be the one-on-one shadow for a boy with Fragile X Syndrome. My first response was to be deeply humbled and grateful that they thought I would be good at something like this--followed by a complete wave of fear that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Then, I thought of the first experience I had working with special needs kids as a counselor at SpringHill Camps (the world's greatest camp in the world's greatest state, Michigan. Seriously--if you are looking for somewhere to send your kids where they will be cherished, loved and have the best week of their life look no further).
Kate had Downs Syndrome, and was assigned to my tent that week along with her designated, official Special Needs Counselor. For the first half of the week, I felt like a failure. Kate claimed that I hated her and would constantly run away from me and hide behind trees. I'm not sure how it changed, but right at the halfway mark...Kate switched from calling me "monster" (seriously) to "mama." She would run into the counselor's little shower cubby place whenever I was in there and scream "MAMA! Hurry UP!" The time I was allowed to be out of her site became 30 seconds, and everything was "30 more seconds, Kate, I have to go to the bathroom, "30 more seconds Kate, I have to take this kid to the clinic."
Kate soon developed a favorite game. She would fly through the air, landing on her bunk bed, and at the last second I was supposed to catch her by the ankles and pull her backwards. Fly, catch, pull. Fly, catch, pull. Repeat. Here's the problem: 1) children with Downs Syndrome are just naturally heavier than other children at that age. Kate weighed more than I did (and continually took advantage of this by tackling me to the ground in her excitement--or any other mood she felt); 2) that week we were staying in MASH tents...the ones where the tent walls are kept loose and untied so that they could be rolled up to let the air through. So...sometimes....I couldn't catch her in time. Which meant that Kate went flying through the air, over her bunk bed, and out the tent wall onto the ground. Kate thought this was hysterical and begged to do it over and over. However, I can assure you that my boss did not find it as hysterical to walk past our tent and see the only special needs child inside flying out of the wall and popping up with leaves in her hair. Even if she was laughing. Oh camp....Oh kids =)
My other favorite story about Kate is when she announced during campfire that she had to go to the bathroom. I took her over to the port-a-potties and stood nearby, waiting for her when slowly I hear...singing. She was singing all the same songs as the kids at the fire...just on a one-song delay.
Five minutes passed and I was like "KATE, what are you doing in there??"
To which she promptly replied "I'm peein' and poopin'!"
Five more minutes went by. "KATE, what are you doing?!?!"
"I'm practicing my math facts!"
Indeed, you could hear her, slowly reciting multiplication and addition tables.
So, here's to hoping that as many cute stories and connections can happen with my newest kid =) I absolutely adore working with kids, so look forward to more 'kid posts' in the future! They say the best things =)
|Finally making the switch from monster to mommy. Big deal. |
(Squinty eyes get out of control when I'm ecstatic)