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Saturday, July 23, 2016

What makes a hero?

Today's blogging challenge prompt is Parent Engagement Tips. I will be reading it to glean new ideas. I feel compelled to write about something I witnessed yesterday, but sometimes I am so torn.... what a great prompt. I will just say this: last year I created a separate facebook account just to use for school. Then I created a secret facebook group for our class where I could post updates, pictures, reminders. The mundane and the not so mundane. I have never gotten such positive feedback from parents as I have this past year. They felt like they were truly included and in the loop with their kids' education. This has been the greatest thing ever in my class. Plus it's fast and easy. Blogging, to do it right, requires going back and reading it to make sure it makes sense, catching the spelling errors and omissions, and changing the poor grammar. But facebook posts are short and sweet and take very little time to preview. It has increased my frustration with blogging and made me even more of an instant gratitude junkie, but it has simplified parent updates and I love it and they love it!
So really, what qualifies someone as a hero? It is time for me to ponder that and really discover why I look at my daughter and think, "she is my hero."
she's the selfie queen...
This is the Punkin. More often referred to as the Punky and sometimes at home we lovingly call her "the Punk." Still a term of endearment, still short for Punkin. Which is almost like Pumpkin, only more endearing and special. And not just for fall. (insert a laugh or giggle here... LOL).

Punky battles some serious mental health issues. Depression and Anxiety. They can cripple her ability to use socially appropriate behaviors. Like her sense of justice. Things in life have to be FAIR. Not JUST fair, but fair according to her rose colored glasses, which may have a slight tint of spoiled-rotten-I-am-the-baby-of-the-family. Okay, this is not uncommon for kids with anxiety. They need life to make sense to them and to feel safe, they need things to be "fair." Think for a minute about how we as teachers battle the fair is not equal war all the time. every. single. day. Now take a kid with anxiety issues and justice issues and try to explain to them why it is "fair" when it is not equal. She gets it when it is about her and why there are some exceptions for her anxiety. But she doesn't always get it when it comes to others. Which ups the anxiety. and fear. and nervousness. Real fear. Real anxiety. Real physical ailments (stomach aches, headaches). Crippling. This last year, her inability to put her sense of justice aside sometimes caused more problems than it cured. It made it hard for her to make friends. So add bullying to the list. I cannot say with 100% certainty that the behaviors she encountered were bullying in and of themselves. I say that what she encountered was more of a wear down technique. Bullying is generally repeated behavior from one person, but she endured small behaviors from many people. So maybe she could be strong if one of the boys was rude or made derogatory comments. But then another one would throw out a remark. Then a girl would say something cruel (probably because they are sixth grade girls, that is what they do). Then maybe another. So did any one student bully her? I don't know. And technically it may not count as bullying. But what it did to my little girl's confidence was heartbreaking. Enter suicidal thoughts. and mental health intervention. *sigh*

So in some ways it's been a healing summer. She has worked really hard to work together with me, her mother, to be a productive part of our family. I am so proud of her hard work. But what I saw last night... well, it made me aware of what kind of inner strength and grace my girl has. She is not going down without a fight.

Birthdays are a big deal at our house and it is no secret any longer that I kind of detest mine. Most days I don't really think it is a good thing that I was born, and I don't really relish the anniversary of my birth. I tend to mourn. And my mom she's always combated that with a big, bang-up bash (haha, 4th of July. get it?) for my birthday. I tend to do the same for my kids. Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Punky's birthday is coming up soon. The 26th. And she planned this birthday party with her friend from school. Thank you Lord that it worked out for her friend to be with us! So... the big plan: a sleepover, go to the skating rink, and go swimming (the next day of course). Here is where the story gets interesting.

My girl is not a good (proficient) skater. It is simply a lack of opportunity. She has not been skating that often. And when you only go every year or two, well, it's hard to get really good at it. And let me just say, she has probably really only gone skating 4 or 5 times in her 12 years of life. Her friend is also not proficient. I was surprised actually. At how "unproficient" they both were. So they got out there and they granny skated. Slowly. Falling down. The opposite of graceful. awkward.

But some of their school mates were there. and they were proficient. Good. maybe even excellent. And they still were proficient in making fun of my girl. and her friend. and me. (I once was a good skater, but I only skate every few years now so starting and stopping are particularly awkward for me).

At one point my daughter said, "it's just not very much fun when *they* are here." And they DID make a point to call out, to make fun, tease and cajole. Talking loudly to undermine her confidence. I asked if she wanted to leave. She said no.

And painfully, slowly, she continued to attempt to skate. Again. and again. and again. For two hours. She battled her own lack of practice and proficiency, fighting against the cruelty of peers, to do something she enjoyed.

The look. That look of determination. Oh my.

That is when I thought, "this girl is my hero." I love her so much. I wish I could make life easy for her. Or easier. Because for her to battle her anxiety, it makes what comes easily to some, more difficult for her. But she is not a quitter. She is determined and I want that. I want a piece of that tenacity. I want her spirit and spunk and her undying fight to carry on.

You never can tell what a hero might look like. It might look like my Punky girl.
Can you see it in her eyes? The fierce determination? Yep. These girls were my heroes last night. But my Punky was elevated to hero status in a way that I can only hope you can glean from my writing. My knowledge of her journey, how difficult it can be for her to take on "ordinary" tasks. Her grit and lack of quit. Amazing. I have always adored her, today I take time to emulate her. She is my hero.

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