If I had a penny for every good intention I’ve had that I never actually managed to do anything about, I’d be a rich woman. And, without going into details, the past couple weeks have been tough. Very tough. So, it was good that I was able to put one of my good intentions into action this morning – especially since I needed a little victory in my life.
Last year, I didn’t have a conversation with Vegemite’s teacher about the fact she has a special needs sibling. At first, it didnt’ really cross my mind. And by the time I thought that I probably should have said something, it was just too late. Lil Z is a regular on the school run, so no doubt that the teacher knew something, but we never raised it with her, so she never raised it with us.
This year, I knew I had to do something different. So, this morning I had a meeting with Vegemite’s new teacher. I’d prepared a little bit – mainly printing off some materials from Siblings Australia, which very helpfully has a section specifically for teachers of children with SN siblings, and thinking about what I was going to say. I’m not nearly as good at expressing myself verbally as I am at writing it down, so I was a bit nervous about getting my point across.
In the end, it went better than I expected. We discussed Lil Z’s needs and how they affect Vegemite. I told her about how some mornings Vegemite experiences quite a bit of disruption before she reaches school. Already this year, we’ve had to pull over on the side of the road and deal with a seizure on our way to school. And my concerns that whereas previously Vegemite saw her sister’s disability only in terms of how it affected her (going to the hospital is boring, missing gymnastics because Lil Z is unwell is frustrating, etc), she is now gaining a better understanding of what it means to Lil Z, and as a result sometimes seems to worry more.
We also talked about Vegemite’s willingness to discuss her sister and how she understands Lil Z’s disabilities. I said that Vegemite currently explains Lil Z to other children by saying she has epilepsy, which she understands means she has seizures and a problem with her brain.
The teacher mentioned that next month is Epilepsy Awareness Day (the fact she knew this made me happy in itself!) and said that she is planning to discuss epilepsy with the class. She asked if Vegemite would be willing to share with the class that her sister had epilepsy and I admitted that I didn’t know. She said that she wouldn’t put Vegemite on the spot, but that she would ask if anyone in the class knew someone with epilepsy during their discussion.
We also talked about how I try to reinforce with Vegemite that everyone is different and that is a good thing. Her teacher said this ties in well with their current focus in religion class (thank you God, for making me ME).
I left it there, as I don’t want to make Lil Z a major issue at Vegemite’s school. It was a good meeting and I was really pleased with the discussion and the fact that Vegemite’s teacher seemed to really on board with it all.
When I headed out of the classroom, Vegemite intercepted us and wanted to push Lil Z around the playground. Before I knew it, a whole flock of little girls had surrounded Lil Z and were giving her a tour of the playground.
So, my little victory was compounded by being reminded that despite all the stress and worry, Vegemite loves her sister, and equally importantly is proud of her. And the fact she is expressing her pride and love with her new friends is certainly a victory.