Monday, June 1, 2015

We Are All Good At Different Things

The other day I was trying to get a picture of the newly mowed lawn (which had previously been a prairie) to send to Aaron. Carter followed me out, so I decided to include him in the picture.
"Jump!" I shouted. And so he did.
Later that day I was back out with all 3 kids, and I decided to get a jumping shot of Addison too. 
"Jump!" I shouted. And so she did.
When I uploaded the pictures, I was struck with the contrast between them. Addison has jumped with her feet off the ground before, but for some reason today this was as high a jump as she was able to muster. Carter excels at jumping and I felt happy to just be able to capture one of them so clearly.

When you first look at these pictures side by side,
your first thought might be..."Poor Addison. Down syndrome is holding her back from achievement!"

But before you complete that sentence, I need to give you more background. You will notice that for Carter's jumping picture, he is in a sleeper....and for Addison's jumping picture, she is in a super cute outfit.

You see, Addison is very good at dressing herself. She will take herself to the potty, put on a fresh pull-up, and then put on her pick (or somethings things I have laid out) of clothes. Carter? He thinks he is being majorly tortured if I expect him to ACTUALLY take off his sleeper by himself to go potty let ALONE dress himself in new clothes. Mean mommy with too high of expectations!

What is my point?

I feel like this excellently illustrates something that I have been feeling for a while. And that is-- we are all good at different things and none of us should be judged based on the things that we aren't good at just because someone else along side us IS good at them...and vice versa. These skills grow and change as we grow and change (oh goodness I hope Carter isn't in college some day calling to me to come help him with his sleeper zipper), but the truth of the matter is, we will have different areas in which we excel and areas in which we...simply don't.

Sometimes I think people look at Down syndrome and see only the difference in jump heights:
without taking into consideration that there are many other moments when it is Addison flying into the area and Carter is barely lifting his heels. (like moments before the first picture while she dressed herself and he refused to try)

I don't say this to compare the two or to pit them against each other. I say this merely to remind myself of a simple concept that having a child with special needs has taught me. 

We are all good at different things.

Sometimes the "things we are good at" aren't easily defined, tangible things. Sometimes it's an emotion, a gesture, an artistic expression...a way we make someone else feel or even what we teach someone else through who we are. Because of this, outward "what we are good at" appearances can be deceiving.

I have 3 kids. I know they aren't all going to be brilliant at standardized testing...or athletics...or music as my childhood starred in. But they are all going to be brilliant. Just in their own way. And there is no "better than" or "best" when it comes to areas in which to show brilliance. All areas are equal.

You know how I know this? Addison taught me. Because while I am good at thinking inside the box and judging based on perceived intelligence, Addison is really good at demonstrating outside the box how intelligence doesn't always look how I once thought it did. Intelligence is a sneaky is all around us. In many different forms.

Sometimes intelligence means struggling to communicate verbally...and finding a million other ways to say exactly what she means. Sometimes intelligence means NOT following instructions not because they aren't understood...but because she has a mind of her own and a will to explore. Sometimes intelligence means smiling and laughing hysterically over the smallest things because the value in the little things are comprehended without having to be taught.

We are all good at different things.
Always look deeper than the first glance. Always assume that there is more there. Search to find the "good at" in both sides of a situation where you are tempted to judge "Good" and "Bad" at something.

Living with 3 children very different from each other, I feel like I have a first row seat to this life lesson.

And sending a child with special needs off to kindergarten in the fall, this is what I wish her kindergarten world would know. No, she won't jump as high as the rest of her class in academics...or PE...or even in feeding herself at lunch. But she is good at other things. Other things that are just as important. You just have to care enough to notice.

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