It caught me off guard.
Catch up? On what? With whom?
Does she know? How can she know?
She IS behind in math. Very behind. It has never bothered her. I can't tell if it bothers her now. I just watched her copy numbers from the textbook to the notebook--the pages already full of sketches of ballerinas.
Math was not my strongest subject either. I don't care if she never takes calculus. But how does she know she's behind? That she needs to catch up? Has she picked up on that from us? From the extra work we do every night? The flashcards? From the other kids? Or is she just feeling frustrated in math class every day?
It doesn't matter. She gets up early to study math.
I hate that she knows.
I wonder what else she knows.
Here's what I know...
I love her exactly the way she is right now. Today. Just as much as I loved the adorable three-year-old with the head full of curls, I love snuggling under her covers and reading the books together that I loved at her age. I love talking to her about how to be strong. To be fair. To be gentle. To be fierce. I love that I don't even have to tell her some of the stuff that I tell her. She just knows.
I love that she has decided to volunteer at the animal shelter. Petting cats. Brushing dogs. Taking pictures. She doesn't know why, but she is passionate about taking care of animals that don't have homes. If she had her way, they would all have homes at her home.
I love that.
I love that I learn something new from her every day. I went for a walk along the river across from the dance studio during Isaac's lesson last night. I took pictures of animals along the walk and then went home and asked her what they were. She knew every single one. I want her to know she is really, really smart even if she doesn't quite get math.
She loves movies and video games, but she is just as happy with a pile of legos or markers and a sketch pad. Maybe more happy. I love that my boss (a graphic designer) sent home some professional markers for Esther-Faith, and now she has decided she wants to be a graphic designer, too. I love that there are hundreds of virtual and literal pages of drawings on my ipad and in my house. Of ballerinas and dogs and picnics and camping and people and the solar system and animals and so much more.
I love that she is unapologetically who she is. She isn't afraid to BE who she already IS and strive to be who SHE wants to BE. She loves who she wants to love. She has prayed for her brother every night since he left home. She only sees the good in people. She is just as beautiful inside as she is outside. And she is gorgeous on the outside. She has never let her crutches or her braces or her wheelchair or her diagnosis define her. She will be whatever she decides she wants to be. Because she is strong and independent and confident and smart. She is not Spina Bifida. Or hydrocephalus. Or NVLD. Or any other label that you might think fits her because she learns differently or walks differently or dances differently or engages differently. She is not her diagnosis. She is not disabled.
Don't ever tell her she is those things.
She is not. I know it. And she knows it.
She is Esther-Faith.
© 2014 Karin Shirey Henn, all rights reserved.
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