Friday, January 07, 2011

Raising Paige

I have been a parent for almost 17 years. Wow. This coming April will find my oldest baby turning 17 whole years old. Lawd, it feels like not too long ago, I was 17 my own self.

I don't know about you parents out there, but there are many times in this child rearing gig I got going on that I wonder if I'm doing a good job or screwing three hopefully productive citizens of the United States up for life. I've made my fair share of mistakes as a Mama that make me wince to this day and wonder what the heck was I thinking?!? I have a feeling that my quota of making mistakes hasn't been fully filled yet since my youngest is six and a boy (compared to having two older girls). I admit to being terrified at times as I guide them through life and other times?

I want to high five my own self.

Some of you are friends of mine on the face of books, so you know a little about this situation. I am compelled to write about it...not for my own high five awesomeness...but for the amazingness that is my child.

Paige is a member of the Buddy Club at school. This is a club where kids in the high school help out with the special needs class. They help get the kids to and from lunch, go by the class to hang out, and basically be buddies. When we moved here last year, Paige found out about the club by accident when one of her new friends asked if she would help her get the kids back to class. Then Paige met the Buddies. She came home that day full of sparkly eyes and stories about the awesome kids she had met that day. There are limited spots for volunteers and my child went to the special education teacher that is in charge of Buddy Club and pretty much told her that she HAD to be a part of this club and would do whatever it took to be a member. Suffice it to say, her tenacity paid off and she got in.

I've heard stories about her friends that make me grin. There is one girl who loves to hug people. One of the special education teachers discourages hugging this girl and Paige told her flat out that she don't roll that way. If the girl needs a hug? She's getting a hug from Paige. You have the boy with Downs Syndrome that Paige loves loves loves. He loves him some Paige, too. Many times she would come home and talk about Richard. Richard and the wheelchair...his wheels to the world. Richard would use bare communication as talking wasn't in his realm. He was born normal, but received the wrong medication as an infant that would change his entire future. I can't tell you the Richard Stories I've heard in the past year of this character so full of mischief and life with a grin always on his face. (especially when Paige walked in the classroom- he was able to get his flirt on then!)

School started back for second semester this past Tuesday. Paige found out Monday night that Richard had passed away. He just got sick and his frail body couldn't fight it. She came downstairs and was just shell shocked. She didn't really cry, and I think that's because she was in shock and trying to process what she had just learned.

Richard's graveside service was yesterday morning. Paige came to me before getting dressed for school and asked if she could possibly attend. She had a doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon and was going to be picked up from school early anyway. I told her we would go because I could see that it was so important to her.

It was a dreary chilly morning. We both dressed up and headed to the graveyard a little early as we didn't know what the attendance would look like. She looked so sharp in her black dress pants. I gave her my dress trench coat to wear and I wore my cape. We walked up to the tent and there people milling about waiting on the service to start. She signed the register to show we were there. I told her maybe she should seek out his family to speak to them since after the service is usually so busy. I stood at the back of the tent by myself and watched my daughter go forward and find Richard's family. First, she found his Grandmother and Aunt and I saw her smile and start talking with them. I couldn't hear what was being said, but I know my girl used her manners and was telling them how she adored Richard. I saw the Aunt stand up and hug her. Paige walked back over to me when she was done and just started sobbing. I held her close and patted her back until she got her composure. I then suggested that she go talk with his parents, that they would love to know she was there. I had someone point out his Mom and there my baby girl went on a mission. I still stood back to the side and let her go forward on her own. I saw her wait patiently for the mother to hug someone and speak with them.

Do you know how hard it was to watch my child stand there smiling while tears went down her face? I saw this mother hug her more than once and keep a hand on her arm as my child told her how she adored her son and was so thankful to her for sharing him. It took all I had not to bawl right there as I watched my baby be an awesome young lady. The mother took her to meet the father and I saw him shake her hand and get teary as my daughter spoke briefly with him about his son.

The service was about to start when the special education head teacher and other teacher came up to the tent. I did a quick "How do you do?" and let Paige walk forward with them as the speaker began to talk. Oh, don't worry, I was only a couple of feet away and ready to jump up beside her if need be. I listened to this man speak about Richard with such love that I felt a huge loss that I never got to meet this kid who lived his life from a wheelchair. Tears just flowed from underneath my child's sunglasses as she nodded her head over and over while he talked as she did know exactly what he was talking about.

The service was very short and of the shortest I've ever heard. I don't think it could have been any better, though. I can only pray that my own service will be so perfect one day. I spoke a little with the teacher afterwards and felt even better knowing that she likes my child and would even go to bat for her at school for excused absence for the funeral service.

I didn't know, Internets. I just didn't know what an amazing thing my very own child was doing on her own. I really didn't grasp that she was opening herself up to love very very special people. I've seen her in the W*lmart parking lot stop to speak to one of her "Buddies" who was walking in with their Mom. I saw the Mom thank my child for befriending her son because it's so hard for a parent to let their child go to a public school where they may be ridiculed for being different.

I do so love that kid of mine. I am so proud of her for being such an awesome person. She was the proper young lady yesterday and I was bustin' buttons over how amazing she looked, acted, and carried herself.

Yeah, I wanted to high five my own self and say, "THAT'S MY GIRL!!!!"


Krys72599 said...

I commented on the Face of Books, too, but wanted to take a moment here, as well. That Paige of yours is a special lady. And she's proved that she is indeed a lady, as much as we might want them to stay girls forever. She showed love and grace and poise and empathy and sympathy and maturity. And she was Richard's friend. Not just some random person who didn't make fun of him, but someone who genuinely cared for this young man who was living a hard life, and living it without as large a support system outside his family as other "normal" teens might have. She was Richard's friend. She was lucky enough to be his friend, and he was lucky to be hers. And it's always wonderful when that happens between two people at the same time! I know she'll miss him and never forget him and I hope SHE knows what a great person she is, like WE do.

AndreaLeigh said...

Oh this just made me cry. What a blessed, special little girl you have. You know I work with the special needs population - well, I can tell you that boy was blessed indeed to have Paige in his life.

What a special girl you have there, Hope.

(Wild) Rice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Rock on Mama!! You're doing a fantastic job. And as for Paige, all I can say is I'm grateful to have children like her in this world. It gives me a little bit of hope kowing that SHE is MY future and only hope that my own little Miss Ma'am (who is all about some Paige, herself) will one day follow in her footsteps in some manner or other.

Jill AKA busymom said...

Hope...I am alive! Its moments like these that I live for...those moments that remind me that although I struggle in my role as a mother in my own strength, that the leading of the Holy Ghost in my life makes all the difference.