I can’t remember much of what I learned in school, I don’t know what I ate yesterday for lunch, and some days I forget my age, but some moments stay etched in my mind with perfect detail. Do you know the moments I am talking about? The moments that overtake your whole body with head-to-toe emotion and take you right back to a significant moment so you can relive it. Those are the moments I live for.
I still remember vividly tiny baby Jackson banging the floor and crying. He would get very mad about tummy time but we pushed him because when he rolled over, he would have the biggest pride-filled smile on his face. Ahhh.
Fast forward about three years to the day he came down the hall and spelled his whole name on his own. There was that same smile filled with pride.
Then there was his pre K graduation when he walked down the “red carpet” with his fellow preK graduates smiling his signature smile of pride.
There have been many times we have been able to see Jackson’s “I’m so proud of myself” smile of accomplishment and each time it makes my heart jump for joy. Today, that smile and the reason behind it might be my favorite to date.
In front of his class, Jackson read his sight words loud and clear and all his classmates were so happy for him and cheered loudly.
Lately, we have been working extra hard at home with flashcards to practice the sight words he is working on in class. We know he knows his words but Jackson tends to want to keep what he knows a secret from the world. Maybe it’s because he has so much self-confidence he doesn’t care what others think he knows or maybe it is because he is afraid of failing and doesn’t have the self-confidence to take a chance. I think it is the latter of the two, so for him to take that chance in front of his whole class was magical.
An increase in self-confidence is one of the reasons why we continue to push him and one of the reasons we knew an inclusive placement was best for him. We know that although he doesn’t like to be pushed, he will rise to the occasion and most importantly, he will be proud of himself when he accomplishes a goal. For him to stand in front of his class with confidence and read his sight words takes the self-confidence we have wanted for him so badly. He is AMAZING and we have been proud of him from the day that he was born, but to know his self-confidence is growing and he is proud of himself too, is the best.
Even more special is knowing he has a safe, inclusive and supportive school environment. Having friends that are excited and so happy for him, as well as, a teacher and paraprofessional that celebrated his big accomplishment as if he was their own son are special.
This moment, this is the moment I have dreamed of since we started working towards an inclusive placement. I’ve heard stories like these of inclusion working so well. Of students being embraced by their peers and celebrated for their abilities. Of classmates that were truly friends. I’ve been visualizing this type of moment since we started the transition into kindergarten because I knew that if we were patient, it would happen for Jackson and it would make all the hard work worth it.
Jackson walking out of school with his teacher at pick-up smiling his “I’m proud of myself smile” and what I imagine his classroom of excited happy kids cheering for him looked like today will be one of the moments that I will be able to relive in my mind for years to come. Moments like these make it all worth it. Moments like these are what I live for.