Life As We Know It

Life sure has changed with the start of Kindergarten for the big girls. Personally, I thought I’d have more time to myself but I haven’t really reaped the benefits yet. I’m still trying to catch up on house cleaning and organizing. I think I need to come to terms with the fact that it will never happen. We are getting in to a rhythm which helps. Jon drives the girls to school most days, on his way to work and I pick them up. My days are kind of random and dependent on the baby right now, but I hope I figure that out soon.

Livi is LOVING kindergarten. She always comes home excited to tell me about something about her day. She is making friends. She seems to latch on to a small few good friends instead of everyone. Her favorite parts are the running laps, recess, dance class. Hmmm, I’m starting to think she likes to be active! She also enjoys the play learning times and her big buddy who reads with her. She is very proud of her work that she puts so much effort in to… maybe a little too much effort.

I’ve talked with the teacher about Livi’s perfectionism actually. It worries me. She has come home a couple times upset that she didn’t get time to play after her work because her work took too long. I asked the teacher about it she said it isn’t because she is unfocused, dawdling, or even that she doesn’t understand. She is just such a perfectionist! I’ve tried telling her it is okay if she makes mistakes and I point out when I make a mistake. I’ve told her it’s okay to not try so hard. I’ve even played a game where she has to draw something as fast and messy as possible! She comes by it naturally… She is the first child of two oldest children who are both perfectionists in our own ways. We are working on it. Any suggestions?

Sofie is thriving in Kindergarten. She seems to have fun too and is learning a lot. She sits well through circle times and their weekly 30 min assembly! She is using more words and signs and listening to verbal instruction much better! All the kids know her and many say hi and bye every day. There are a few who play with her on the playground after school too! It warms my heart, but the ones who I see playing with her have siblings with special needs too. I love them. They are awesome kids but I can’t wait to see kids who are not in our ‘special needs community’ include my daughter as a peer.

She has her rough days and I have kept her home one morning already to let her catch up on her sleep. She likes her sleep and doesn’t do mornings well. This whole 8:30 am school start is hard for her! She also doesn’t eat breakfast well which adds to the problem. If she had school from 10-4, that would be perfect! Some days she hits a lot, usually when she is more tired or there is a change in routine. Her EA is always close by redirecting her.

Evie really liked her time alone with Mommy in the beginning but I think she is getting bored of me now! She has been very fussy these last two weeks in particular, because of lack of sleep and teething!  Hopefully we can figure that out and start enjoying each other again!

With the start of school we decided to send a letter to the kids and parents, kind of preempting any questions. This school has only a handful of kids with special needs and no one with DS. Sofie is many of these kids first introduction to some one with different abilities. I got a lot of positive feedback from it, which I was very thankful for. Here is the letter in case you are interested…

Hello Kindergarten Students!

Congratulations on coming to kindergarten! This is such a big step! You must be very proud of yourself! Are you feeling nervous about being in a new place away from home? I was nervous when I was your age. Are you feeling excited for all the new things you will learn and the new friends that you will make? I remember be excited too!
One of those friends in your class is Sofie. I am her mommy. Sofie has Down Syndrome. Do you know what Down Syndrome is? Down Syndrome is a little something extra in Sofie’s body that she was born with, just like you have something in your body that gives you brown or blonde or red hair. That little something extra makes Sofie take longer to learn things.
Sofie is mostly the same as you and me. She likes cartoons and chocolate. She likes to bake cookies and LOVES music. Sofie likes to run and play and jump on trampolines. Do you like some of those things too? 
There are some things that make Sofie a little bit different though. You might think she is small and acts like a little kid sometimes. You are right! That extra something in her body, that we call Down Syndrome, makes her grow slower and not act like a 5 year old sometimes. She is trying her best to act just like you. It is just taking her longer to learn what is always appropriate. Can you be patient and help her to learn? 
You may find it hard to understand what Sofie is saying sometimes. Sometimes I find it hard to understand what she is saying too. But she is learning new words every day and she is really good at telling us what she is thinking with her hands and eyes. Can you try to understand what Sofie is saying with her words and body?
She will love to run, dance, laugh and learn with you. She also gives the best hugs. If you are ever sad… Sofie will help you to feel better. Sofie can be a great friend to you. She might just take a little longer to get to know. 
I hope you can get to be great friends with my Sofie. She is very excited to be your friend too. 
Sofie’s Mommy
Dear Parents,
We hope you don’t think it is presumptuous of us to send this letter home. Honestly, we are in new territory here with school. We know assumptions can be made and questions are not always asked. We thought we would be proactive and let you know that we are very open to any questions or concerns you might have about us or Sofie. 
A little history on our daughter is that she was adopted from a Bulgarian orphanage just two years ago. She spent a traumatic first 3.5 years neglected in a crib. Yes, we had requested to adopt a child with Down Syndrome and knew we would be getting a very hurt little girl. Though her learning disabilities can be attributed to her Down Syndrome, a lot of her behaviours come from her years in the orphanage. Sofie has come such a long way. She is a testament to what a stable, loving family and some real nutrition can do for a child. She has worked very hard and will continue to learn at an amazing rate. We are very blessed.
We are very open with our kids and friends about her experiences in the orphanage, adoption, what Down Syndrome is and what the blessings and struggles are that come with it. Questions are welcomed and answered very matter-of-factly in our home. We had some parents come up to us in Preschool last year asking how to explain Down Syndrome and Sofie to their children, which is what gave us the idea for this letter. 
As far as play dates or birthday parties go, Sofie would love to be included! She really does want to be like all the other kids. Yes, my husband or I will need to come along to assist and supervise Sofie but if you are okay with that, we are okay with that! 
We are excited to take this next step in parenting and watching our kids grow. Sofie and her sister Livi (in the other K class) are our first kids going to school! We are sure you share some of our feelings of fear and excitement whether your child has different needs or not. Going to kindergarten seems like such a big deal! 
We look forward to getting to know you and your children in the year ahead!

2 thoughts on “Life As We Know It

  1. karynslater says:

    These letters are AWESOME. What a fantastic idea. Honestly, I am scared stiff of the day we send Jake to school, but this is an amazing way of opening up dialogue with classmates and parents alike. I will for sure be asking you for help in a few years:)


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