Yet

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.

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Dear Tessa: Kindergarten Eve

Dear Tessa,

It is the night before kindergarten, and we helped you get ready. (Right here is where I nearly broke into poetry, but the only word I could come up with to rhyme with ready was spaghetti, and that pretty much ruined it for me).

Back to business…

We completed your minion project to bring back to your teacher tomorrow. Your pink hearts and unicorn book bag is packed and waiting by the front door, where we will adjust it on your tiny shoulders just before we leave the house. It is full of all of many things you need, and probably some things you don’t.

We played outside tonight, stealing the last of summer’s glory; soaking up every moment before it was time to come back in.  After dinner you climbed up the stairs, step by step, chatting with your dad the entire way to the bathtub. When he offered to rinse your hair, you told him you could do it yourself.

Kindergarten Eve

You handpicked your outfit and laid it out on your dresser; brushed your teeth and asked me to brush your hair. Normally bedtime is a little intense.  Tonight was no different.  Bedtime was accompanied by the usual dose of drama and restlessness; a routine your dad and I are numb to by now.  Once you and your sister settled down, we sat on your bed and read The Night Before Kindergartena book given to you at your birthday party; and we sprinkled Ready Confetti made with magic Jitter Glitter under your pillow as provided by your new teacher. I hugged you harder and longer than I have in a long time.  For the life of me, I could not let go.  Then I kissed your forehead, told you I loved you and wished you sweet dreams.

In true Tessa fashion, you are as cool as a cucumber.  Not nervous or scared; just poised and ready to go.

How did this happen so fast?  From baby to big girl in the blink of an eye…

baby to big girl

I asked your daddy how he was doing?  He took a deep breath and then another one, and said, “I’m okay.”  I replied the same back to him.

As long as you always believe in yourself and know how great you are, you will do big things in this world.  We just know it.  Promise me that you know it too?  Tomorrow is a big day, and you are going to do awesome.

Spread your wings and fly sweet girl.

Love, Mom…and daddy, too.