She can’t use a jump rope.

She can’t jump over a low hurdle.

She can’t do an agility course.

She can’t run a mile.

She doesn’t control her impulsiveness.

These are some of the concerns raised by a team member during this year’s annual IEP meeting as we prepare for third grade. I get it. Her size, lack of skill, coordination and stamina could be cause for worry. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for a team that cares so much for her and her safety.

However it looks different from our perspective. If we withheld her from every activity that made us worry, she would likely never leave the house. We’ve had to challenge ourselves as parents to see beyond the fear and the worry in order to open more avenues of success.

In life, we have two choices–we can either settle or we can find a way; something we learned quickly after hearing that our daughter was born with Down syndrome. While one may focus on the negative, we chose to alter each limit with one simple word.

She can’t use a jump rope…yet.

She can’t jump over a low hurdle…yet.

She can’t do an agility coarse…yet.

She can’t run a mile…yet.

She doesn’t control her impulsiveness…yet.

You know what else? She can’t do her own laundry, cook a meal or drive a car…YET. She can’t write her name in cursive or do long division…YET. She can’t babysit or ride a bike without training wheels…YET. No, not yet; just like other kids her age. But we believe she will. Maybe not today or tomorrow. Maybe not next year or the year after. But when she is good and ready.

And should those things never come, we will be proud knowing that she gave it her best shot. We’ve seen her jump hurdles higher than the ones you’ll find on an agility coarse, and those are the ones that matter the most to us. If we only focus on the things we can’t do right now, we will never know what we can truly achieve.

As for all of the these things she can’t do now…she just hasn’t done them yet. Her capabilities far exceed her limitations.


Let Them Lead

She sat on the floor for the last round of practice. It was only the second dance practice they had attended. I got within her line of sight and signed to Tessa to stand up.

She refused. “My side hurts too bad mom.” I knew better and I signed to her once more…stand up. She stomped her feet two times and exclaimed that she couldn’t do it; that she just couldn’t keep up. “Yes you can,” I reminded her.

When practice was over, she pouted all the way to the car. “I’m not good at dance mom. I did really bad.” No matter how many times I reassured her that she did great, she remained discouraged. About a mile outside of town, she began to cry. I began to say something again with the hopes of boosting her spirits; but her younger sister interrupted me, and I let her take the lead.

“Tessa, listen. If you think you’re bad at something, then everyone will think you are bad at it. But if you think you’re the best, then you are the best no matter what!” My eyes were glued to the road ahead of me as I absorbed her beautiful words, so simply stated.

She continued, “…your robot move was awesome! I think you did it better than me for sure! This is our first time doing dance, and we have to keep practicing to get better, okay? So don’t worry about it.” Tessa sniffled once more, and agreed with what her sister said. Together, they sang Christmas songs the rest of the ride home.

Who was this wise old soul sitting in the back of my car, and what did she do with my five year old daughter? I guess all of that Full House watching has really paid off!

When we got back home, I shared with my husband what had just transpired during our ten minute drive home. He pulled Kendal into the living room and told her how kind she is and how proud he was of her genuineness in helping her big sister feel better.

There have been few moments in parenthood that have actually rendered me speechless, and this was one of them. While our youngest daughter certainly does challenge us with her strong will and spirited personality, she also has the innate ability to encourage and uplift.

I often question myself as a mother. For me it just comes with the territory. Always wondering if I am doing a good enough job to ensure our children are compassionate to those around them, but never quite sure that they fully grasp the concept. Hoping each morning that when they walk out the door, they go with open hearts to share with others.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”-Angela Schwindt

Raising children isn’t about how perfectly we do it. I know because I am far from perfect, and my youngest girl just swooped in and saved the day in true Danny Tanner fashion.

Sometimes our kids lead the way for us when we can’t figure it out. More and more, we’re letting them.