Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Monday, October 14, 2013

Student of the Week

Last week Asher was student of the week in his first grade classroom. I wish his teacher hadn't chosen him first. He has no idea what it means, or what is supposed to happen. If he'd seen a few kids be the student of the week before him he'd understand what was going on.

Student of the week is something that can make a parent of an adopted child cringe. Asher came home with a poster that included lots of questions we were supposed to answer, like "Where was I born?" and "The happiest day of my life."

Was the day he met me, his new mom, the happiest day of his life? Probably not. Was the day he left an institution in the middle of Serbia the happiest day of his life? No, it was probably the scariest!!! Really, I would have no idea what other day would have been the happiest. This is a child who spent 7 years abandoned, drugged and severely neglected. I have no idea where he'd find the happiness in that.

Here's how we answered his questions:

My full name:
Asher L. S.

Where i was born:
Kragujevac, Serbia

Favorite foods: 
yogurt, ice cream

Favorite colors:
blue, orange

3 dogs: Dudley, Zurri, Roman

Family members:
Mom & Dad
7 brothers: Rob, Noah, Tyler, Bryon, Aaron, Axel, Abel
1 sister: Angela

One thing I can do very well is:

Favorite thing to do in school:

Happiest thing that ever happened to me:
When I came to America!

Special interest or hobbies:
Playing with my brothers and sister, singing with Mom.

Thing I like to do best at home:
Sing, sing, sing!

Jobs I do at home: 
put my dirty clothes in the hamper, put my dishes in the sink, put away my toys before I go to bed, make my bed.

We also did a poster-board full of pictures. Since Asher hasn't even been with us 2 years yet, we don't have any cute baby pictures or things like that. I decided to call it "My firsts" and it included a picture of "The first time I met my mom." or "The first time I met my grandpa." "The first time I finger painted." and "My first hamburger" and "First time I saw a washing machine".

I knew that Asher's "Student of the Week" was going to bring some questions from his classmates. I decided to use this opportunity to introduce Asher and Down syndrome to the other parents, as well as address some questions they may get from their kids. Last year I sent out basically the same letter and received several emails from the other parents thanking me for the information because their child HAD come home with questions and they really didn't know how to answer them. It was a great way to connect with the other parents and several had more questions. Later in the year as I was involved in various classroom activities the other parents were really proud of their kids and how well they included  Asher in their play.

Here's to hope this is another awesome year for Asher!


Kathie Brinkman said...

You are brilliant my friend. I hope that after Asher's week in the spotlight the teacher does some re-thinking about how she has designed this project. Yet again, a teacher is making A LOT of assumptions about every child in her class to ask these kinds of questions and she is excluding some kids. Now I'm NOT saying there is any malice or intent to exclude certain kids, but the very nature of the questions tells me that he/she has not had much experience with any kids other than those who are being raised in a traditional, American birth-family environment. Some kids are in foster care while in school, some kids are being raised by their Grandparents, some kids are adopted from a foreign country, some kids are adopted at an older age, and some kids are non-verbal. Your poster of "my firsts" presents facts about Asher's life that are make him more relatable and typical to the other kids rather than putting the spotlight on how different he is (which at this age most kids consider weird or scary) from the other kids in his class. Good job Mommy!

Becca said...

Ugh, that happened to Samantha last year - she was one of the first. I knew she'd be so much better at it if she were nearer the end! But, Asher's SOTW comes with so much more complication. I love how you handled it! Just reading this, I'm excited for his classmates to get to know him better!

Stephanie said...

I love the approach you took with this project and I think it was a good way to talk to his classmates about where Asher has been and Down syndrome. Great job, Leah!