Her Special Squad

Kids can be cruel. They can sniff out “different” from a mile away, and sometimes they tease or isolate anyone who doesn’t fit in.

As a teacher I’ve seen it. And as a parent, I’ve worried about it.

But so far we’ve been blessed. I’m not a religious person so using the word blessed seems hypocritical, but it’s a fitting way to describe our experience with our daughter’s peer group.

Our child stands out in class—her delayed speech, the EA who shadows her around school, her struggle to keep up, and her inability to understand—these all set her apart.

But instead of shutting her out, her classmates circle around her and make her feel special in a “you belong” kind of way.

Her teacher told me her friends actually bicker over who gets to take Avery to the office or who gets to partner with her for a project or stand beside her in line.

I know Avery feels it. She adores her friends and talks about them with such love. As a mum, I am grateful for these compassionate kids. Their parents are obviously teaching them to treat others with respect and kindness. For that, we (personally but also in a bigger societal way) can’t thank them enough.

At a holiday performance at the kids’ school this year, Avery looked so tiny up on stage. She is little, but it’s even more apparent when she’s standing in a line with her class. She sang (as best she could) and did the actions. I clapped and managed not to cry. For once. But as the kids turned to walk off stage, Avery’s friend who stood beside her during the concert and helped her with the actions, put her hand on the small of Avery’s back and guided her safely down the steep steps. Like I said, this group of big-hearted kids instinctively know that Avery needs to be protected and they just do it. And yes, I cried when I saw that. And yes, I cried again when I thanked this awesome kiddo when I saw her in the parking lot after school.

For Valentine’s Day we threw a party for the girls in Avery’s class—as way to show them how much we appreciate their big hearts.

We did crafts (I’m still finding glitter in every crevice in our house) and decorated cookies and heart shaped brownies.

Hosting a kids’ party is messy business. It’s loud and tiring
and time consuming. But Avery running to the door to greet her guests?
It was just the sweetest thing. It makes it all worth it. Even the

Avery’s squad of sweethearts played games and ate pizza and partied like nine year olds. Of course Avery wanted to invite the boys in her class too, because as sweet as the girl are, the boys are equally awesome. It’s not to say that boys wouldn’t appreciate a pink and crafty party, but truthfully that’s just too many nine year olds trapped inside on a cold February day for me. We’ll have them over in the spring when I can set them all loose outside.

The teachers and staff at our daughter’s school model kindness and acceptance every day—it’s the norm. Bullying has never been an issue for us, greatly in part to the example being set by the adults who have made inclusion a priority.

To the parents in our community, I’m sure you’re already aware of how great your kids are and you surely don’t need me to tell you that your children are kind and thoughtful and compassionate. But I’m going to say it anyway because perhaps you don’t see what we see from day to day.

We feel blessed. Yes, I used it again. It just fits.

Thank you sweetheart squad. We heart you. xo

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