Saturday, October 20, 2012

Inclusion and the Dignity of Risk, Belle of the Ball, Part 4

continued from Part 3, HERE
1 cut watermarkedBased on the events of last evening, I decided to skip ahead a bit in the telling of Sophie’s inclusion experience in kindergarten.  This is just too good to wait on a virtual shelf.
2 watermarkedAs with most aspects of her story, it cannot be told without including the whole family and now, her friends.  Her little circle is growing larger by the day.  In the end, inclusion is not just about how Sophie will be educated in school.  It is about her self identity and sense of belonging in this world.  It is about being the best that she can be and being accepted as a valued member of the community.
10 and 11 watermarkedIn this recent post about Making October, I wrote about the Halloween costumes that I was making for the kids this year.  Helena is a wolf, Sophie is a cat, and Alexander is Herobrine, a character in the computer game Minecraft.  My deadline was 6pm on Friday so I had less than a week to pull them together.  The elementary school PTO hosts a Halloween Spooktacular every year.  It is in addition to the traditional costume parade and classroom parties that take place on Halloween.  They pack the gym with Halloween crafts, games, music, and pizza.  The costume contest is done by grade and there are between 3-4 classes per grade.
3a watermarkedSophie had taken a little nap between school and the party.  When we woke her up, she was very upset.  I had been able to get Alexander and Helena ready with no trouble.  I could barely get her costume on and adding a pink nose and whiskers was not happening.
4a watermarkedEverything changed the moment we got to school.  It took us 10 minutes to make it from the hallway to the gym as Sophie’s friends and some of the parents stopped to chat and admire the  kids’ costumes.  Once inside, it was mass chaos.  The kids preferred to mingle with their peers on the stage over doing crafts and games.  It was hot in that gym, especially for those in costume.  Grinning from ear to ear we watched as not only kindergartners but older kids came up to Sophie, excited to see her.  It was a real love fest filled with dozens of hugs.
5a watermarkedThe time came for the costume contest and Sophie lined up with her best buds.  Alexander was a real ham, posing and showing off the diamond sword his daddy had made for him.  By then his makeup had been sufficiently sweated off, but he worked it.
6a watermarkedAfter each grade had their turn on stage and the judges made their decision, they were ready to announce the winners.  By then we had made our way across the gym to enjoy some cold chocolate milk when they announced that the prize for best costume for kindergarten went to the little gray mouse.  Remember, Sophie was a cat, a little gray cat, not a mouse, so I wasn’t sure they were talking about her.  Still, I lifted her up to my right shoulder over the crowd, as if to say, “this little gray mouse?  Is this who you mean?”  She had won and as it was impossible to maneuver through the crowd on her own, I kept Sophie on my shoulder as we made our way to the stage.  I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of an out of body moment for me.
12 and 13 watermarkedWe got to the stage and they took her name.  I didn’t care to correct them about the mouse/cat thing as I was too busy grinning and snapping pictures.  I just watched as Sophie stood proudly, holding her prize of popcorn, candy, and a movie pass while her friends cheered, “Yay Sophie!”  Alexander quickly got over not winning against the awesome Lego man of the 2nd grade and was truly happy for his baby sister.  We headed home to enjoy Sophie’s prize. 
7 watermarkedHer daddy said it best, not only because of the contest, but how fully her peers, their parents, and even the older kids have embraced her, our little Sophie was the belle of the ball.
to be continued…
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Anonymous said...

Outstanding! And awesome, but no less than I would expect from your family and lil miss Sophie! Wish you were here still to share a celebratory drink together....we never did manage that one, we were both pregnant at the wrong times for it to happen:)

Anonymous said...

Okay, THIS is why I was positively bouncing off the walls last night about what an awesome wife I have, what terrific kids we have, and what an incredible community we have... all rolled into one!

One thing that doesn't get emphasized enough is just how many kids gravitate to Sophia. She's like a little Kindergarten celebrity--everyone knows her name, and she doles-out hugs to everyone. I'd say that 3/4 of the night, she was surrounded by friends (and not just other kindergarteners in her class, but kids of all ages) who cared for her and wanted to be with her--and she with them. It made my heart melt over and over. And that she won the costume contest is probably more a testament to how how much love and work Jen put into it. I'm blessed on all sides.
---Love, Mark