I know everyone is in a Downton Abbey frenzy. I really can't believe it but we are not watching it. We only have one television in our house and it seems the parents always cave to the child's wishes. Or is it that she knows how to use the clicker and neither of the parent's are really clear on how it works?
Julia is rather into anything to do with movies and television - she is a walking talking tv guide. When we go to the grocery store, she can be found catching up on People and Us and on the way home, I get a report on the latest celeb scandal. Instead of watching Downton Abbey, her choice for Sunday evening was "A Smile As Big as the Moon." And so watch it she and I did. What a great movie about a special education teacher who in the late 1980's challenged the popular wisdom of the times and fought to take his special ed class to "Space Camp." The movie starred John Corbett who Julia and I love in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and I crushed on from Northern Exposure days.
Many of you who are new to the blog perhaps don't know about Julia's history but she was born with hydrocephalus and has had many shunt surgeries at Tufts/New England Medical Center in Boston. In her first two years of life, it seems like we lived there. The Farmer and I are extremely grateful for all her good doctors and nurses did for her. For the past few years, she has had no medical complications (knocking on wood) from the hydrocephalus but it is always with us. Julia is not like a regular kid - she needs special help for most learning and accomodation for her physical challenges.
This year Julia moved up to the Middle School and I was terrified for her and for us. I did not know how she would do, how she would be taken care of (she also has juvenile diabetes). As I was watching and tearing up through "A Smile", I couldn't help but be amazed at how the public school system has changed for the better in educating our special kids. Julia's transition to Middle School has actually been incredibly good. She is thriving in the bigger school and has a wonderful one-on-one aide who is one of the keys to this transition. The sped team in our school district has been incredibly supportive and helpful. And for the second report card in a row, Julia has made the Highest Honor Roll.
When I went to school, I did not have any contact with kids with special needs. Back then, we were split into what I (wrongly) thought as "smart, medium, and dumb" kids. As I watched "A Smile as Big as the Moon" I realized how sheltered I was as a teen from kids with special learning styles, kids that maybe didn't catch on as quick as I did to most subjects. In the movie, they showed the special class, the dis-order, the anxieties of these children and I thought about how different the education system is now for kids with learning challenges. We are lucky that Julia is a sped kid in 2012 vs 1989 or 1965.
In our school system, Julia is in a class with kids of all abilities. The kids are all taught the same things (with modifications for some). They are tested at the same time but the difference is they are tested to their ability. I write this to you all because I know that many of you either don't have children yet or are no longer in contact with what is going on in the schools now. Kids with learning challenges can still have successes and reach Highest Honor Roll. As a Mom with a sped kid (that's how Julia and I talk about her learning challenges - it is not a bad thing in our house, it is just what we deal with), I am so thankful that my daughter can feel successful. The pride she has in completing her homework, in doing well on a test is helping to boost her confidence and self-esteem.
If you have a chance to watch "A Smile as Big as the Moon" or read the book, do. It will make you feel great and help you to conquer your latest obstacle, learning challenge, knitting project, or internal stumbling block. It will be running frequently on the Hallmark Channel if you can get that.
The photos on this blog post are of Julia over the past couple years wearing her various mommy-made Quarters Caps. I can't help but say that she too has "a smile as big as the moon." It is so much fun to look at her ever-present smile and cheerful personality as it shines through these photos. Julia might not be like most kids but she is happy and is finding her way. I feel so blessed to have had the gift of her life in mine and to have learned all she has taught me along the way.
You can purchase my Quarters Cap pattern on my website here or on Ravelry here. Until the Big Game is over on Sunday, I'll be donating 20% of the profits to Halos for Hope. Check out the Halos For Hope site here.
Here's some Super Bowl hype that you will enjoy! Go Bev!