Here is a picture of Jordan right before she walked into her new school yesterday. She was so excited. I had a new backpack to give her. She spent all morning wearing it and saying: “I’m ready to go to school!” Her first day in the classroom went pretty well. She played with all kinds of new friends and was so happy to tell me a few things about her day.
From what she had to say, she was happy with most kids but one made her sad. She doesn’t know everyone’s name yet, so when I asked her who made her sad, she just said “somebody.” At this point I have a pretty good memory of names for about half of her class. To make it a little tricky, the classroom has many early education college students working with the kids – so that’s another set of names I need to learn! With the semester ending soon, I’m guessing many of them are leaving so that’s a little less pressure for me! Jordan’s new classroom is a great place for her to learn while college students learn from her. It’s a great environment and I’m excited that she’s there. The teacher-student ratio is just crazy small because of the connection to the university. There’s an observation booth to help researchers and instructors learn and teach. I could sneak in and see how things are going if I want to! The coolest part was ending my day yesterday by just walking over to Jordan’s school and walking with her to my car in the campus parking garage. That little perk will be hard to let go of when I end my current fellowship and move back to work more often at the TV station.
Before Jordan officially started at her school, she visited a couple of times last week. On Thursday I went in with her and helped teach the kids about her difference so they weren’t confused, scared or just under educated about why Jordan is just like them – just with one hand. I had the teacher read Harry, Willy and Carrothead. It’s about how one friend had one hand, one friend had red hair and another friend kept making fun of the redhead. We talked about how the teacher needs glasses to see so that doesn’t make her strange, she just needs those glasses to help – and that’s exactly why Jordan uses a prosthetic arm (I encouraged the name “helper arm”). Jordan didn’t wear her arm that day so I could pass it around for the kids to see. They were stunned and amazed. They had a lot of questions, but mostly to me and not her. One kid asked Jordan why she had one hand and she just said “I don’t know.” I encouraged her to say “That’s just how I was born.” Either way, Jordan was more excited about having one of her own books read in the class than the fuss kids were making about her difference. She seems completely not shocked, stunned or concerned about the kids asking questions. I made it clear to the kids that it’s okay to ask questions, but it isn’t okay to grab Jordan’s helper arm or little arm without asking. I saw two kids ask Jordan to show her little arm while they were playing and Jordan was kind to show it off. Then they all moved on and played together. I was really happy to see the kids learn a lot and seem really okay with it. Only one little boy kept saying: “Ewwww. Gross!” The teacher said she’d make sure she talks to his moms to make sure they helped him better digest Jordan’s difference. I also left behind a book called The Making of My Special Hand. It gets kind of specific on how a little girl had a myoelectric hand made for her. It shows all kinds of examples of hands and what it takes to get one made. The teacher thinks her more scientific kids will really enjoy that one.
On Jordan’s last day at her old school, I got weepy. It’s hard to walk away from somewhere you’ve spent so much time with. I had one or both kids in that school for the last five year. Five years. That’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my life! Now I’ve lived here for five and a half years with no plans of moving away. It’s a great feeling. But that long connection means it was much harder to leave. Of course, Jordan didn’t seem to mind at all. She spent all day Friday telling everyone it was her last day of school. She wasn’t sad, she was excited.
Over the weekend, we were VERY lucky to have a visit from my aunt and uncle. I love them both a ton and it’s so great to have the kids have fun and play with them. They spent a lot of time playing board games – including Monopoly. I caught a really cool moment when Jordan was sitting on my Aunt Jan’s lap trying to roll the dice with BOTH hands. It was so cute. It was also special to be able to have time that was quiet, calm and not as stressful as the last month or so has been with all of my travel and deadlines. It has clearly affected the kids – they’re even more stubborn and having a tough time with the word “no.” Traditional stuff after a lot of grandparent time. I’ll get them back to normal just in time to get spoiled for the holidays. That’s okay. It comes with the job of parent. As my mom said: Four steps forward, and one step back. Exhausting kids or not, it was awesome to simply hang out, play games and have fun with my aunt and uncle. Plus, I spent so much time cleaning my house, there is a less stressful feel to it. We’ll see how long I can make that last!