I tell you, this kid... she is just awesome. She is learning and growing every day, and she is constantly impressing us. She works so hard for everything, but sometimes makes things look so easy. She LOVES Kindergarten and pretty much thinks that her teacher walks on water. She has friends in the class and loves 'specials' like Art and Music. I met with her teacher last week and had the best parent-teacher conference of her school career. I know she's only in Kindergarten, but she has been in school of some kind for a while now, and many meetings have not gone so well. This one, though, couldn't have been better. Some of you know from Facebook, but I'll tell you again-- it's worth re-telling!
Mairead's teacher says she is at the top if the class, academically, that her social skills are improving every day, and that she rarely cries at school these days. She's happy, loves art and singing. She VOLUNTEERED to read a book to the class last week. Sat in the teachers chair and read an entire book to the whole class. The teacher is wonderful and we are so happy with all that Kindergarten has brought. Of course, I was welling up the whole time. Then, the teacher said that Dave and I are doing an amazing job with her and that Mairead was definitely born to the right parents as she can't imagine where she would be without us. Then, she handed me the tissues. Can't tell you how happy this makes me. This kid is amazing!!
The only hard part was hearing that she is still very anxious and that she puts a lot of pressure on herself. She gets nervous when she doesn't know something and gets upset when she gets something wrong. I was the same way in school but I didn't have the additional challenges that she does, so I'm hoping that we can all help her learn to relax a little more and to take the pressure off. I wish I could help her to see how amazing she is.
This winter, Mairead is trying out swimming lessons and she just loves it! We have enrolled her in private lessons so that she can get the attention that she needs and she is thriving. There is a lot of jumping and spinning, so I'm not sure just how much technique she is actually learning, but there is plenty of time for that. The instructors are very patient with her and had her jumping off the side and putting her whole head underwater in the first lessons.
The first night, she was excited just to be there, couldn't wait to start, all smiles, etc. She didn't even look back at me as the instructor led her to the water. And, there were tons of other people in the pool area so it was super loud, but she was so focused on swimming that she didn't seem bothered by it.
The instructors (two instructors for just her at the first class) were AWESOME with her. So patient, definitely attuned to her sensory issues, found things that motivated her and went with it, etc.
She had NEVER voluntarily put her face in the water and they spent a lot of time on that (but didn't push it). By the end of the 45 minute lesson, she was putting her whole face in the water, was jumping off the side of the pool from a standing position and going entirely underwater.
It was awesome, for her and for me. Usually, when we do activities, it's me sitting anxiously on the sidelines watching her struggle. I sometimes want to just scoop her up, take her home, and keep her from anything that is really hard for her. That night, though, I was watching her LOVE it, improve, and succeed. She was just so happy- it was amazing. When the lesson was over, she came over to me and said, "I want to come back again on tomorrow night and jump on the diving board." I think we'll have to work our way up to that, but just the idea that she wanted to try it-- it was great!
Dave and I would really like our kids to participate in sports. I was never really a fan of swimming as a sport (mostly for selfish reasons such as 7am Saturday practices and long hours watching swim meets), but this might be a great sport for her. Sensory input from the water, very straightforward task, it's quiet underwater, and she could still be part of a team. We'll see, of course, but she really is happiest when she is in the water, so we'll go with it!
In addition to her talents in the pool, Mairead is quite the little writer. One night, she decided that we all needed to put on a play, so she wrote out scripts with a part for each member of the family. She comes home from school with volumes of drawings, paintings, stories, and projects. I love seeing her creativity and getting a glimpse into that brain of hers.
Because Mairead takes the bus to school, she and I usually have a few minutes outside together in the morning. She likes to talk about what the weather is, play games with our shadows, and see what's new in the front yard. I love the picture of her looking into the puddle- she was laughing at her reflection. She loves to help shovel, though she often shovels the snow ON to the walk way.
A few weeks ago, Mairead's school was closed due to a water main break. The boys happened to have school that day, so she and I headed to the Owl Diner for a little breakfast. She LOVED it there and thought the chocolate chip pancakes were awesome. While we were there, a gentleman walked in wearing a cowboy hat. Mairead loudly exclaimed, "Wow! Look at his cowboy hat!" The man suddenly put his coat back on and left. I was confused until he walked back in holding this purple cowboy hat and he gave it to Mairead. What a nice thing for him to do!
One morning, I was texting with a friend, and then put my phone down. Mairead was then taking pictures with the phone while I got the boys ready for school. When I looked at it again, I saw that Mairead had sent a text to my friend that said, "I love my mom and dad and jack and ben." How cute is that? I don't know if she typed it all out or used Siri to verbally send it, but it's pretty sweet either way. My friend must have been like, "Umm, that's great that you love your mom and dad..."
I probably need to put a lock on the phone now so she isn't sending "I love you" messages to random people!
Somewhere in the past few months, Mairead taught herself to read. We read to her, of course, and encourage her to read, but she basically learned it on her own at some point and is now just full-on reading books alone. She can read nearly anything we put in front of her and we are so proud! We were hoping these English teacher genes would pay off somehow!