Bye Bye Elementary School!

school-bus“Wow! That just actually happened,” I thought as I watched my daughter Dahlia (my youngest) walk across the stage at the fifth grade graduation ceremony at her school. I tried not to cry.

That’s it, I thought. Elementary school is officially over for us!

It’s mind-boggling when I think about her journey. I still remember a dreamy-eyed little Texas girl, going to kindergarten in Michigan, not too sure what she was getting into… and having to learn to deal with winter gear! Snow pants! Boots! Jacket, hat, neck-gaiter, gloves! The poor kid was the last to get outside and the last to get back to her desk every day that year. But eventually, she learned to love the snow.

When I look at the scrapbooks for the St. Joseph years they were full of post-card pretty images of winter snow-forts, brownie troop events and summers at the beach. But what they don’t show was the growing disconnect between her and school work. Report card comments became very repetitive: “Dahlia is obviously very intelligent but needs to focus more on her work.” “Dahlia has is a very creative child, but needs to listen.” “Dahlia needs to pay better attention to instructions.” What had seemed like normal behavior in kindergarten, by second grade was starting to look like something much bigger.Snowsuit

We didn’t start getting answers until we moved here to Virginia in third grade, and were blessed with an astute teacher, who was our champion during a difficult IEP process, and a great pediatrician, who hooked us up with the right specialists. To our surprise, Dahlia turned out to have not just one learning disorder but several!

Fourth and fifth grade were an even bigger journey for her, not just academically, but also in terms of growing up! Good-bye Hannah Andersson — hello Justice! Good-bye kid shows – hello Disney teens! Strong opinions about music! Nail polish, lip gloss, jewelry… “Should I be crushing on a boy by now?” Answer: “Of course not!” Video games! Cell phone! When did all this happen?!!

And she has become such a character: creative, honest, individualistic, self-aware, and always ready with a quip. One of her teachers once confided in us, “Actually, I think she’s fabulous!”

All I can say now is “You go girl! Middle School better watch out!”