So, I (Brian) apologize for the delay. I had planned on posting a few weeks back, but as is generally the case in most of our lives, my well-laid plans got shuffled a bit, so here I am three(?) weeks later than I had planned. Better late than never though, right? (Or is that just something that people who are habitually late say to make themselves feel better?)
At any rate, you're not here to read my feeble philosophical musings. As Kelly alluded to a few weeks back, we visited the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired (CCVI), where Livi will attend preschool in the fall. While we were there we had the opportunity to observe a classroom. There was a mixture of kids with special needs and kids without special needs sitting on the floor for circle time, practicing saying their names, days of the week, animals, etc. What was really amazing about this experience was watching the teachers and therapists interacting with the kids with disabilities. Now you have to understand where I am coming from here. As the proud daddy of a little girl with special needs, it bothers me sometimes to think that because my kid has special needs that people are nervous about treating her as a normal kid.
However, this was not the case in this classroom. As I watched the teachers interact with the kids who have special needs, they didn't coddle them at all or accept the "good ol' college try." No, not here, no way. There was a little boy who couldn't say his name, so they used a switch that the teacher recorded his name on so that when it came time to say his name, he could hit the switch. Another kid seemed to lack trunk strength to sit up straight and the therapist sitting with them gave support, but was making this kid work. Another little girl was responsible for placing the date on the velcro calendar. Instead of allowing her to place it anywhere and just say good job (because that's what you say with special needs kids, right?) the teacher worked with her to show her the right place and didn't stop until the girl placed it in the correct square.
Maybe this sounds like they are pushing the kids too hard, but my heart melted and I was moved to the brink of tears as I watched. See, our house is essentially a therapy gym and we go to one every week. If our daughter doesn't get pushed sometimes, she is fine with being coddled, snuggled, and allowed to take a nap. Watching this classroom made me excited to send my girl to this school in the fall. It also made me thankful for the people (from various organizations) who have challenged Livi and pushed her to where she is now: Sherry, Michelle, Andrea, Janelle, Ashley, Kathy, and most importantly, my wife.
If you haven't joined our team yet for the Trolley Run, please do so here. You can join the team to run or just donate. The funds that we raise will benefit CCVI (Click here to see how). There are many families who need the services that CCVI provides but just can't make it happen for one reason or another. If it helps, think about it this way: the money that you give is creating space for kids with special needs to learn and connect with other kids their age in ways that might not happen otherwise.
As an aside, if you need a little comic relief, I will be attempting to run in the Trolley Run. I will set the line for how far I make it before I start walking at about .25 miles. It is gonna be a long four miles at that pace.