So one of the absolute best parts of the Quail moving into the Toddler room this fall- is the added togetherness it affords the Stisters. I remember reading the statistics about siblings of kids with disabilities getting 80% of the attention in the home and how that can cause resentment towards the individual with the disability. It worries me, I want them to love each other and take comfort in each other. I want them to be able to have their own independent lives and yet still connect with each other.
So back to the togetherness. We have a young therapeutic recreation graduate student, Miss Mattie that we have come to school to play with the Quail for 45 minutes a day 4 days a week. She reviews and works on the different activities that we learn in the various therapies on the days we don’t have physical and occupational therapy sessions. Miss Mattie will then report back to us about how the session went and specifically what they worked on. We’ve tried to encourage them to go with the flow of what the natural activity in the room is so that the Quail isn’t being pulled away from her pals but having support and learning how to interact with and keep up better with them. I’ll break here to tell you I’m a worrywart. Well, maybe noone needed me to point that out. But I’ve worried about the Quail’s ability to adapt to a typical school endlessly. I wholeheartedly believe in the power and good of inclusion. But I worry about the day-to-day reality of what it will look like for the Quail and the need to keep my little feathered friend safe, while supporting this inclusion ideal. Part of that is fear based on a stereotype of her disability and potential capability and part of that is just being a working mom to a young child and spending the majority of your day entrusting her care to others.
So, we have Miss Mattie, to give the Quail that extra oomph to fit in and keep up and look out for her. Well, the happiest part of my days in the last few weeks has been checking my email on break at work and seeing the email from Miss Mattie telling me about the Quail’s day and what all they worked on. The absolute best part of the email; though, are the asides that if she was just using the original checklist of activities we gave her we would never hear about. The little moments of triumph and love and community in her day that warm my heart.
So why is this post on Zuzu’s day you ask? Well because we chose to put the girls in the same school, they sometimes share little recess times. Now the big kids playground is next to; but separate from the babies and toddlers playground. There is a fence in between. This was an excerpt from Miss Mattie’s note on Zuzu’s birthday:
“Then Zuzu’s class came outside and Zuzu ran over to say hi. The Quail was so excited to see her she waved and blew kisses and they held hands through the fence.”
Swoon… I asked the Quail’s teacher to try to get a picture of it if she can since when I remarked on how sweet it was she indicated that it has happened more than once. She then went on to tell me how Zuzu will frequently run over to the fence to check on the Quail and if she’s in the middle of something else and the Quail is crying Zuzu will start hollering to her to get her attention back to her sister. And keep at it until someone comes. I tell you, that girl’s persistence pays off sometimes. The other gem, she’s created an entourage for the Quail. Apparently a number of Zuzu’s friends have taken it upon themselves to line up at the fence and watch out for the Quail as well. I’ve had more than one mother take the time to introduce themselves at pick-up time in order to remark that their child will ask for a Quail of their own and how cute she is.
That Zuzu, she’s a natural advocate. Bless her sweet head.