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Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Week Before Christmas, part 3

As I capture what I can on film, I wish Mark could be here with me. It's amazing to witness this event. This is one time I feel validated and filled with gratitude that Teale is in this placement. The faces on the kids light up as Santa, Mrs Clause, the firefighters and Rudolf walk through the crowd greeting them. Teale is shy, she won't be quick to show her excitement. Her sensory defensiveness will keep her at an arms length. While many children push their way to  shake hands or even hug, Teale will try to blend into the background. Sometimes it's like watching Teale fight an internal demon. She wants to be part of life, she wants to hug, touch, connect with others, but she just can not make herself do it. One of our big hopes is that as she gets more comfortable with who she is, this will change. Her self esteem was severely damaged in the many years of placements that were not a right fit for Teale. As I watch the kids, I can't help but hope that next year, Teale will also push her way to Santa. This year she seems content to watch from a few steps back and see her friends enjoy this. I can tell the firefighters are aware of some children being like Teale. They give time and space, taking cues from the kids. I so appreciate this in my life with Teale, pushing her never works. I appreciate the people we encounter in life who accept Teale as is. It is tough to deal with others feelings around how Teale is. She can get crabby at a moments notice, she can treat people we care about with total disregard. Teale is all about Teale, her feelings are what she displays and honestly, most of the time, no one else's matter. Don't get me wrong, she can show love and empathy too, but she is bluntly honest with how she feels. After greeting the children, the firefighters move toward me and I fight tears as they wish me a Merry Christmas. They will never know how hard we fought to get our daughter into this school or how much this means to me to witness. The tears are welled up in my eyes and I have a huge lump in my throat while I push out the words "Merry Christmas & thank you for coming." The sincerity of what I felt could not be transfered in those few words. I wanted to hug everyone of those brave souls. I wanted them to know the true gift of Christmas they were giving me in their coming to my daughters school. I was overcome with emotion, the outpouring of love, but also the respect. I could feel the respect these men and women had for our children. It is a tough place sometimes, to have people glimpse into your life, they may show compassion or it may come across as pity. Pity makes me sick, I don't need pity and neither does Teale. She needs respect that her journey is challenging, she needs support and of course, love. The men and women who came out to my daughters special school gave all those things. As everyone retreated to the inside, I rethink my day. I need to get some things done and had not planned on going to the event inside. Then I see the woman who had told me to come and she insists I need to see what happens inside. This is what life is, this is Christmas, not the errands on my mind, but this, the love and the caring I am witnessing. I follow the crowd into the school, wishing I tissues in my pocket.

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