Friday, 11 December 2015


G is for Graduation

This week my son, Nick, graduated from primary school. Seven years of learning to read, write and do math (plus all the other subjects) completed.  Two weeks ago we took him to the shops and he picked out an outfit for the special occasion. Nick wanted to wear a tie and we were able to find a shirt and tie combo. He was wrapped. On the night he was so excited to be getting dressed up; as were the forty other children.
During the ceremony, before all the children received their Graduation certificates, awards were handed out: Dux, Citizenship, Performing Arts etc. Nick didn’t win one, but that was okay. He had been awarded a Gold Academic Award that day at school and he was pretty chuffed about that. The night went well and family, friends and the children all celebrated.
The afternoon of Graduation, all three children had brought home their report cards. My two brainiacs, Melissa and Nick, did very well as usual. Melissa's 'Yesssss', made me smile. Nick's comment was, 'I only got 6 As, last semester I got 7'... My Jessica, my youngest, didn't ask about her report card. It didn't mean anything to her. She has an intellectual impairment and is doing work that is two/three years below her grade. She didn't achieve her individual goals. Her report card did say what she could do, but much of it was what she couldn’t do.

Having two children who excel, and then having one who struggles, is hard emotionally. I always feel some sadness for Jessica. I get sad, I guess, because she hasn't been blessed with high intelligence like her siblings, and she misses out on being recognised publicly for the progress she has made. Learning for Jessica is difficult - doing handwriting, art, technology, physical activities, and maths are all hard. This year she has moved forward, just in very small steps - not the larger steps of her peers.

For our family, some of Jessica's achievements we've seen in 2015 are also not academic, but are about her ability to do things on her own. Our long term goal for her is to be an active and independent member of society, so these achievements are wonderful. During this year we were thrilled when Jessica did the following things;

  • unpacked her school bag on her own;

  • dressed and undressed unassisted;

  • performed Let It Go onstage and knew all of the actions;

  • read a Level 20 reader;

  • jumped into the deep end of the pool without being scared;

  • wrote out her own Christmas cards for the first time…
There were many more.
As Jessica gets older, the gap between the children in her class and herself is going to grow. So I have decided that I must shake off the sadness. My attitude must change to, 'If school won't celebrate her small steps, then we as a family will, and I won't be sad because she is doing the best she is able to'. Last night, Macca’s was requested by all three children. We ate, drank and talked as we celebrated all our children’s successes. There were smiles all round.

This letter came onto my Facebook newsfeed during the week and I thought it was perfect for all the children, like Jessica, who won't be receiving awards this year. 

It’s a time of badges, certificates, medals, trophies, recognition, awards, prizes and 'seeing' of high achievement. I love seeing the kids that shine at this time of year - a big high heartfelt round of applause to you. You so deserve it for the effort you have put in.
But this message is for the kids that didn't get called up for any of the above...
To the child that conquered their fear of heights, or sleeping in the dark, or riding without training wheels or sleeping out for the night for the first time this year, I SEE YOU
To the child that managed to resolve more conflict than they started this year, to the child that learnt to say the impossible; "I'm sorry", and to the child that walked away from the fighting instead of getting involved, I SEE YOU
To the child for whom school is a huge struggle, you get up everyday and you go, I SEE YOU
To the child that battled all year with the maths, or reading, or concentration, or speaking out in class, or learning their words, but persevered anyway, I SEE YOU
To the child that found the kindness in their heart reach out in anyway to another person or to an animal in need or in pain, I SEE YOU
To the child that learnt to give and to share for the first time this year and even found joy in these, I SEE YOU
To the child that battles to make friends and to be social, you made new friends this year and for that, I SEE YOU
To the child who wanted so much to please, but was just out of sight of an adult who perhaps was too busy or too distracted, I SEE YOU
To the child who lost a friend or a loved one this year, but carried on everyday bravely even though their heart ached, I SEE YOU
To the brave parents that try everyday to do the best for their kids, I SEE YOU.
May you and your children revel in small but significant victories that you have both experienced this year, as I will with my beautiful children. For every year there is progress and growth, we don't need a podium or handshake or a hall of applause to be seen.
Colleen Wilson
Contemporary Parenting

If your child has graduated, I congratulate your whole family on making it this far. Enjoy the break before your child launches onto the next phase of their life...high school. :)   

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