Saturday, March 26, 2016
Someone pretty amazing in our lives did something wonderful. When thank you isn't enough, what do you do? Well, one of my favorite things are words. When someone takes the time to write me a sentiment in the form of a note, a card, a letter or even a text theses days, it means the world to me. So this is what I've decided to do for Tom. Simply, write..
Mr. Tom Chea is my Sophia, Andrew and Emilia's Taekwondo coach. We all met last summer. It was quite unplanned as we weren't looking to take TKD classes,but somehow that's where all three ended up. Andrew and Sophia took to it nicely and made it all look easy. Em on the other hand was going through a tough time. A new school for Kindergarten, followed by yet another new school for first grade left her confused and basically pretty pissed off. Her behavior showed this by her lashing out at children. She hit and grabbed and even tackled others to the ground. Unprovoked and almost always without warning. Mr. Chea had her start class with children her size. She was awful! She was all over them. I was devastated for my Em and apologetic to the parents of the kids she mauled. I thanked Mr. Chea for the class, apologized for her behavior and promised never to take Em back. What he said to me that day, still makes me cry. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. His exact words were, " No, take her back next class, she has to learn."
She has to learn... And was he volunteering to teach her? Did he actually think she was going to listen to him? She was horrendous! Yet, he wasn't phased by it, and still wanted her back in class. I was worried about the other parents being mad, he wasn't. I was worried about her behavior, he wasn't. I was worried the other children would be upset, he wasn't. I was worried she wouldn't listen, he wasn't
I seriously could not believe the faith he had in my girl. I left that day, and just cried, and cried and freaking cried. I was overwhelmed that someone we had just recently met would take such a chance with my Em.
So, classes continued for Em. And Mr. Chea was right, she did learn. Her behavior improved. She still has moments when she hits but the kids are great. They've learned, because Mr. Chea has taught them, that they need to watch her, (and running away quickly helps). They understand, because Mr. Chea explained to them, that she really doesn't mean to hurt them when she hits. They are patient with her because Mr. Chea shows patience with her. It's beautiful to watch.
Mr. Chea and Em soon developed a very special relationship. It's amazing to watch them together. I will go as far to say he knows her as well as I do. She says his name about 1000 times a day, and so do I... as motivation to get Em to listen to me! The threat of not seeing Mr. Chea is too much for her to bear.
Yesterday, I was given the most beautiful surprise. Tom created the most unbelievable video of Em. I had no idea he was doing this and when I saw it, well, you all know I cried. It's one of the most beautiful gestures anyone has ever offered.
Tom, I can never, ever convey my feelings adequately to you for this video. You see, it's not just a video of Em's amazing progress in class. In a world that shuns special needs and where most babies diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted ,this video is a voice not just for Em, but for all people who are differently abled. This video shows everyone that it doesn't matter, nothing matters. No diagnosis or special need has to stop you from doing what you want. Tom, when I found out Em would be born with Down syndrome I was pissed. I couldn't understand why God would wait till child number 5 to do this. In my mind it would have been better if she was born first. I couldn't see how I could take care of her and still have enough time for the other 4. I decided that this little bundle would just have to keep up with us. We were not going to slow down for her. We always treated her like she was our 5th child, not like she was our 5th child with a disability. And you do that too. Thank you for expecting the same from her that you expect from all your other students. It makes her strong and independent and confident. Thank you for being an advocate and a voice in Em's life. Thank you for loving her. She is limitless.
Because you believed in her at her worst, we all can marvel in her at her best.