Thursday, January 29, 2015


Written: 11/30/09

Goals for Tonia
#1 We would like to have Tonia walking everywhere she goes in school.

#2 We want to have Tonia go down to the big bathroom with everyone else. Also that she learn to go herself.

Most kids don't have these types of goals in school early in their school career. They go to school to learn shapes and colors, to learn to read and count, and interact with other kids. But I wasn't like most kids. The mild Cerebral Palsy I have now was far less mild when I was starting school. I barely had enough balance to sit in a chair, or at a cafeteria table. I could print, but my writing was virtually illegible, especially if I was being timed. My hand movements were large and awkward. I could barely cut, even with special loop scissors.

I walked with a reverse posture walker, which provided freedom of movement for me, and allowed me to finally keep up with my classmates in the hall. The thing was indestructible, with red handles and little pockets that hung over the back that my grandma would make, so I could carry things with me. To this day, I don't remember what I kept in there, but I remember what they looked like, down to the last detail. I remember what they smelled like as if I had them yesterday.

Now that I'm grown up, I look back on the remnants of the earliest years of my schooling, and I'm staggered by the amount of paperwork, and evaluations that are left behind. The list of goals that my mom made when I was just four years old. Pages of evaluations on my academic and motor skills. 

While I was as much as two and three years behind my peers when it came to anything physical, I was at or above grade level when it came to academics. On paper, everything looked like a struggle. But in reality, I loved school. I rarely was aware, especially at that age, that I was being evaluated for anything.

While getting dressed was a struggle on my best day, I was always excited to learn. That motivated me. To me, there were always bigger concerns than the obvious obstacles. Like, making sure Tara didn't take the single red pair of socks that we regularly shared. I had to make sure we each got one red sock and one white sock. 

The same went at school. I loved learning. I was in the top reading and math groups early in school. I was really shy, but came out of my shell in a one-on-one situation, which was usually PT or OT. Physical and occupational therapy were as natural a part of my day as lunch or recess. I loved playing with shaving cream on the mirror, or balancing on the big green ball or getting rolled around in a huge black barrel. 

There were things I didn't like, of course. When I first learned how to use forearm crutches at around five years old, the prospect of standing alone was terrifying. Two wood sticks were nothing compared to my walker, with its cool red grips and metal frame. 

"Don't let go of me!" I remember begging.

But moments like those were rare. 

The truth is, this was my life, and the only life I knew. Yes, some things were hard, but there were always other, more important things. There were things to learn and socks to share and toys to play with. 

It's the same with a sunrise. It doesn't just go from dark to light without a process. But at five or six you don't think about the process. You don't think about the earth turning, and the sun coming up.

You're just glad it's light, so you can enjoy the day.

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