Lemon Squeezy

Today was Gracie’s first day of kindergarten. My big girl walked into the school, easy peasy lemon squeezy, like she’d been going there for years. If she had jitters she didn’t show them. All her special teachers were there—the special ed teacher greeted us at the door, her amazing one-to-one was standing in the hallway waiting to walk us to class, and the OT and PT were in the classroom watching for Gracie. There were tons of other people there, too—students, siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.—but there was no way Gracie could have gotten lost in the crowd with all her helpers around. She will be well cared for at her new school.

Last Friday, the district nurse called me to finalize some details for Gracie’s health plan and mentioned that the teacher wanted me to give a little talk to the students about how Gracie is different but still the same. So, when the time came this morning, I got up in front of the class and had five minutes of fame in front of a bunch of 5-year-olds. It was easy peasy lemon squeezy.

First, I asked the kids how many of them had been to that school before. Only four raised their hands. That question was for Gracie—I wanted her to know that she wasn’t the only new kid there. Then, I asked the kids how many of them liked horses. Several hands went up, including the teacher’s. I asked how many of them liked Legos. Again, several hands shot up. I asked them how many of them liked the movie “Frozen.” Most of the kids raised their hands. I asked them how many had seen the movie “Frozen,” and all of them raised their hands. I began my somewhat prepared speech.

“So, you know how in the movie ‘Frozen’ Queen Elsa is a little different than everyone else? You know how she has special powers but it makes it so she’s a little different—she has to wear special gloves, she has to be careful what she touches, but she’s totally just like all the other people in Arendelle? Well, my girl Gracie is kind of like Queen Elsa. She has to use a special walker and sometimes she wears special gloves but she’s totally just like all of you.” Little hands shot up, and little mouths rushed to tell me about their favorite parts of the movie. I entertained a few of the comments and then reiterated my main point— “Gracie is just like the rest of you. She may look a little different sometimes but she’s just like you.” The kids didn’t even bat an eye—they did not appreciate the depth of the conversation I’d just had with them, but then again they also weren’t staring at Gracie or pointing or being mean.

Hopefully by growing up with her, these kids they will accept Gracie for who she is without much fuss. If mean kids come along, which they surely will at some point, all the other kids who’ve known Gracie all along will hopefully shut down the teasing fairly quickly. Hopefully it won’t be a big deal if she has a walker or gloves, or even if she poops her pants a lot.

Apparently that happened four times today. Gracie still has diarrhea for no apparent reason—it’s been about 10 days now with no sign of stopping—and her para changed four bad diapers today. I warned her ahead of time but I’m guessing she wasn’t prepared for what she dealt with today. I am worried about Gracie; she is at high risk for C. diff., a resistant bacterial infection of the intestine, and these symptoms are suspicious. We are trying to wait to take her in until Thursday on her doctor’s advice but it’s hard to watch her go through this. Plus we don’t want to scare away her new para or anyone else at her new school—we want to give her the best possible chance.

All in all, everything went great today (except the diarrhea). They are going to take great care of Gracie at her new school. Gracie is going to be her typical sweet self and make everyone fall in love with her. She made one new friend today and will surely make more as the days go on. She’ll make this look easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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