Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fly on the wall with feelings

During my two weeks of sickness, I assembled enough energy to volunteer for a day at Julia's school. I loaded my pockets with tissues and cough drops. Soon I found myself lost in a chorus of coughing and sniffling. I didn't need to worry about standing out in the crowd.

It was Thanksgiving Eve and the kindergarten wing was filled with parent helpers. The rare full day volunteer opportunity found us making tee-pees out of tortillas and apple turkeys. Kindergarten teachers are like craft ninjas, they fashioned a turkey call out of a plastic cup, some string and a sponge.

I helped and watched my daughter navigate a school day.

She stood with her class to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and was called aside to put on her FM receivers. I cringed and felt a tinge of sadness. She went to the far side of the classroom and pulled her squealing hearing aids out. In a moment she had one receiver lined up. The kindergarten teacher helped her snap it in place. By the end of the Pledge, the FM was up and running.

After each activity, the kids went to a different room for another teacher's activity. Julia transported the FM transmitter. She clipped it to her own waistband and attached the microphone to her collar. She looked like a little mini-teacher.

Each of the kindergarten teachers knew all about the FM system. They positioned it appropriately and tested to make sure it was working. In a flurry of instructions these teachers would say, "Julia". Jules would jump or suddenly turn around. It was comical in a slightly painful way.

By the end of the day, I managed to replace my sadness with pride. Here is a little girl that fully understands the accommodations offered to give her full access to sound. She handles her hearing aids and the FM system with confidence. She takes this all as just a part of her day. She doesn't envy the other kids. She even enjoys having that little microphone. She'll sing herself a song into it when she has a chance.

She's an inspiration. Though I'm sure it won't always be so easy for her, she's got this kindergarten thing locked down. It helps that the staff at her school is pretty extraordinary too.

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