TWENTY-SEVEN…here’s something strange

Allow me to preface this post with my current life soundtrack, ‘Perpetuum Mobile’ by Penguin Cafe Orchestra. If you get the chance, please listen to it, it is exquisite.

Every once in a while I will teach a course for a small public college in northwestern Nebraska. All of the work is online and it is just a way for me to keep abreast of the information in my field should I ever decide to go back to work in Early Childhood Ed. Through that job, I was able to get another job grading correspondence courses. I have been doing that for about 3 years now. In the correspondence Courses, I don’t have any contact with the students and in fact I am not allowed to introduce myself or comment on their work at any time. My job is strictly to grade the work. The students don’t really submit work throughout the semester, rather they cram it all in the last week before grades are due. So here we are at the end of the semester, grades are due this Tuesday.

It has been a long time since I have graded assignments for one particular class. I think the last time I graded assignments for this particular class was in the spring of 2011. I set my alarm for 6 am this morning, rolled out of bed, made myself some coffee and settled down on the couch for an early morning of light reading.

The first couple of papers were about research articles and opinions about those articles. I opened the fourth assignment and saw for the first time since having Cecilia, ”Topics in Child Development; Children with Down syndrome“. My first thought was to ‘close it, I am not ready for that yet’. I thought about emailing my administrator and bowing out of my responsibilities. Then I had a good chuckle…I said to myself, “I can do this.” I opened the document. As I started reading all I could think about was how much more I know about this topic now.

I imagined myself in a college classroom with my students and telling them they were going to have a special guest speaker with Down syndrome, she was so special in fact, she is my daughter. Enter Cecilia with her daddy…mind you this is a daydream while I am supposed to be reading/grading this student’s work. Cecilia wins over the students with her smile and personality as well as her ability to communicate effectively with the students.

I then transported myself in an office on campus…and imagined Cecilia walking with Abby and Phoebe through the campus to my office. While they were walking, everyone was saying, “Hey Cecilia, how are you…good to see you” and giving her high-fives and hugs. I imagine Abby and Phoebe beaming with pride and bragging to everyone, “she is my sister”.

Switch back to reality and I come to the part in the paper where the student (let’s call him ‘Student A’) had written some of the ‘physical characteristics that identified individuals with Down syndrome’ which  according to Student A, was a “smooshed face,  almond-shaped eyes that tend to slant upwards, a single defining line across the palm and a protruding tongue”.

I just laughed.

I absolutely adore Cecilia’s almond-shaped eyes with her little stars in them, stars are another defining physical characteristic. Technically they are known in the medical world as little ‘specks’ of white colors in the iris…which ultimately are referred to as ‘stars’ cause they literally look like…you guessed it ‘stars’.  She doesn’t have the line across the palm of her hand nor does she have the ‘smooshed face’ but her tongue occasionally thrusts forward.

It was such a surreal moment. Here I was at 6 am on a MONDAY MORNING reading some kids paper on Down syndrome children having smooshed faces and I wasn’t upset or even on the verge of tears. Now had I read this two or three months ago, I might be singing a different tune, but today I was going with the flow. I wanted to know who this student was, put a face with a name. He seemed like a very bright person from his other papers. It was such an innocent thing to write and I am so glad, relieved even, that I wasn’t offended. I am not as excited to read the other student’s paper on this particular topic, but student A has tugged on a heart string…and I am pulling for him to finish in the top of his class.

I don’t know what all of this means…or if it means anything. I just thought it was interesting and strange…in a good way. I am in a good place right now. Yes, occasionally I will have my ‘freak out’ moments, but for the most part, life is just chugging right along. In ten days Cecilia will be five months old…where has that time gone.

Back to grading…

By the way…I noticed some typos, run-on sentences and lots of grammatical errors in Cecilia’s Birth Story and About me. Shock. I have tinkered with those…they should be good now…who knows. And I have added a page; Why Blog. Check it out and feel free to leave comments!

Ok, now I am back to grading!!!

2 thoughts on “TWENTY-SEVEN…here’s something strange

  1. As a mom to an 11 year old with DS, I deeply appreciate your insights, the way you share so precisely what it feels like to know the joy of the differences of your child. I also admire your courage in assigning your students that paper – and your ability to wade through the results. The surreality never seems to go away. It is a dream, a good one. The pictures are so beautiful. She is an angel. Thank you for your poignant post.

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