A couple weeks ago I went with Lucy to a little carnival the Junior High kids put on for the pre-schoolers. (That's a post in and of itself for another day because seriously, how cute is that that they do that each year to serve these kids? Very, very kind.)
The kids went around to different stations and did all sorts of crafts and games. One of the stations was a bounce house that Lu was delighted about. She jumped and jumped with a huge smile stretched across her face.When it was time to switch stations I was distracted talking to another mom. When I turned around I saw a big surprise:
Lucy was putting on her own shoes.
Now, I know it may seem silly to be amazed at a four-year-old who can put on her own shoes, but Lucy doesn't dress herself, and she certainly doesn't put her shoes and socks on. Sure, we try to have her do these things herself. She even has an occupational therapist who comes each week and works quite tirelessly to help her independently dress herself. So yeah, you may be able to imagine how my jaw dropped a little when I saw her over there happily putting her shoes on without even being asked.
I must note that it was certainly not an easy task for her...she was trying to shove the wrong foot in the wrong shoe, but she was "in the position" and she was trying. And it made the hairs on my arms stand up I was so proud of her.
At home she just says "I can't." And we believe her.
She has me duped. She has us all duped. But apparently her teacher at school is far from duped. She told me they always take off shoes after they go to playground, dump out the sand, and then put them back on. Lucy needs a little help, but she mostly does it herself with the rest of the kids. The teacher simply expects that, so the kids follow suit.
Now, don't get me wrong. We expect a lot out of our kids, including Lucy. We try to push them in every way we can. One of our favorite things to tell the kids is this:
"Whether you think you can, or think you can't, you're right."
But Lucy throws us for a loop. Her feisty personality in combination with her syndrome and her "four-year-old-ness" often keep us guessing about what factor may be to blame for her lack of skills in certain areas. We baby her way too much. And we're in a hurry too often. It's just so much easier to do things for her most of the time.
But man alive, as I stood there on that playground trying to pull my jaw up off the ground I realized we need a change. I came home and told Dave and the kids we need to let that sweet girl of ours fend for herself more often. We need to let her struggle. Because that will make her grow.
And really, who couldn't benefit from a little more "fending for ourselves?" That's what makes us all stronger.
I recently heard this quote: "Welcome the task that makes you go beyond yourself and you will grow." I love it.
We're all trying to work with Lucy to help her be more self-sufficient, but we're trying to push ourselves a little more too. Because in the end, it's the struggles in life that will truly make us into who we want to become...and who God wants us to become.