Our Connor hasn't had many large or small triumphs or ego-boosts in his 11 years. His elementary school years have been marked by sadness, frustration, struggle and social isolation. He has no peers, no friends, no invites, no academic or sports-related achievements.
It is said that, for children, the school years are a time for social interaction, forming friendships and for, hopefully, educational achievements. This is what the average child gets out of this growing-up venue.
Now in the fifth grade, Connor has had none of this incentive to like or even desire to attend school. It's often been a battle just to get him and keep him there. Last year, with the implementation of the new pilot program he's been a part of, things have slowly improved. This year has been marked with fewer behavior issues, increased learning and more time spent out of the contained classroom and more time in the general education setting before frustration sets in.
This week his school had the 4th and 5th grade spelling bee eliminations, the initial steps toward the national spelling bee. Thursday was my only day this week to not be subbing. Trish had the day off from work. About 9:30 we got a call from Connor's special ed. teacher saying that, much to her surprise, Connor wanted to participate in the 5th grade spelling bee to be held about 10:30. She said he knew we were home and wanted us to come see him.
It seems he had suddenly wanted to tryout in the 4th grade bee. She let him, he missed his word and had a tearful meltdown. After talking about how proud she was that he had even wanted to be a part of the spelling bee, and tips on how he should stop and think before trying to spell the word, he announced he intended to be a part of the one for his own grade.
His mom and I were delighted, not to mention shocked, that he would even attempt this leap outside his comfort zone. We sat proudly and watched him compete with 40+ of his fellow 5th graders. When he spelled his first word correctly, with great poise, we were thrilled! And so it went for another hour.
Connor was one of eight kids in the final elimination! !
When he did finally miss his word he handled it like a pro! By then, however, his feet weren't even touching the ground!! His mom was grinning ear to ear and I was in tears! His special education teachers past and present drifted in and out as they could and were grinning and squeezing our arms. When the bee was over the teachers and Connor's classmates clapped and cheered for him. There were high fives and fist bumps as Connor danced around with a smile that lit up the room!
This might not seem like much to others, but it was HUGE to us and to Connor. This was the first academic or any other real ego-boosting triumph of his entire life. And, it was his and his alone. It had nothing to do with Mama, or Pammy or anyone else. He took a risk, reached for something he wasn't sure he could excel at, something he had been defeated in only an hour before. He tried again and he soared.
Yes, he truly did soar! This was a shot of self-confidence that he can own, one that will carry him for some time to come!