For those who know Becca, and have known her for many years, you know the trials and tribulations. But for those who might just see this post and not know, I’m going to give a little background before I get to the excitement.
Becca was born seven years ago on Saturday, so we’re just two days away from all the birthday festivities. When she was born, she was immediately a handful and Cody and I found ourselves thrust into parenthood with a baby that was fussy. A lot. So we became avid followers of the “5 S’s” from “The Happiest Baby on the Block.” (It WORKS! Try it!!) As she got older, she became more and more headstrong, and was an extremely difficult toddler, who had frequent meltdowns. She was “that kid” in the store. Randomly. Without any apparent reason. And it wasn’t for lack of discipline. We tried everything. And then a friend’s son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and things started to fall into place. About that same time she started mentioning that her “nose doesn’t work.” After her talking about this a LOT, and even identifying herself with a child in a wheelchair whose legs didn’t work, we started taking her seriously and the doctor visits began. We ended up in a neurologist’s office with her taking a smell test. And then our world quit spinning. Her nose didn’t work. Anosmia. We were told that because she was unable to sense positive OR negative scents, she was missing the nerves that connected her nose to her brain, and would never smell. She was termed to have “Sensory Processing Disorder due to Anosmia.” In other words, her other senses were in hyper drive to compensate for the lack of the sense of smell. And her sudden meltdowns were similar to that of an autistic child who has some sudden input that their brain can’t handle. This was her norm. So we began to work (on our own because our insurance wouldn’t cover a therapist) on how to handle inputs. We got her a mini trampoline so she could jump til her heart was content. And lots of other modifications. And she started coping. She was calmer. Because we were able to realize her needs and pre-empt a lot of her episodes.
And then, the week before she turned three, she picked up a book she had never seen before and read it out loud. Correctly. Our world stopped again. The early childhood educator in me SCREAMED out. This wasn’t possible. She didn’t even understand rhyming yet – how could she read? I mean, we read with her every day, but how was she able to pick up long books she’d never seen before and read them – at THREE – with no formal training? Her Mother’s Day Out teacher was SO helpful that year. She gave her little challenges to do for “homework” because she saw Becca’s NEED/CRAVING for academia. And Becca just kept growing mentally. Her mental leaps and bounds were incredible. But with those leaps and bounds, we saw and suddenly learned the meaning of “Asynchronous Development.” One part of her brain was growing, but the rest wasn’t. As she got older, Grayson, her brother who is 23 1/2 months younger, was also getting older. And he was reaching physical milestones before she did. He could put on his shoes and completely dress himself before she could. He was climbing our play structure and sliding down and she was still needing help to get up. When it came time for her to do PreK, I taught her at home while he spent the day at MDO. The first semester, I allowed her to lay on the floor or stand up to work, and let her guide the instruction to things she was interested in. The second semester, I had her sit in a hard chair at the table to work and made her do so for longer and longer periods – trying to prepare her for the rigors of public school. But when she started kindergarten, I honestly wasn’t sure how our Sensory Seeking / Tactile and Auditory Defensive girl was going to do. Kindergarten was full of behavior issues, but we pressed on and she grew by leaps and bounds socially and emotionally.
This year in first grade, she has blossomed. Suddenly, she started smelling things and her senses began to level out. Girl Scouts has given her an outlet for her caring heart and adventurous outdoorsy side to really flourish, and she has worked really hard academically. She has pressed hard to control her behavior, and has succeeded on many occasions. Many profoundly gifted students are so asynchronous that their social abilities are lacking, and many are also far behind because they are not high achieving (they lack the drive to care about grades or pleasing teachers). But Becca somehow has the social AND academic abilities AND is high achieving! She WANTS to be the best. And while she fights against homework like any other kid, she’s upset when she misses one on a homework paper or especially on a test. She’s long been a perfectionist, and she was always proud when she brought home progress reports with 100 in every class. This year, she learned to accept the fact that a 97 is ok, but would always fight back to try to bring them up. That’s just the way she is. She’s very hard on herself. High school will be a challenge. But we as parents strive to encourage her to be her. “Do you” is a great theme for her. Because who she is is amazing.
We took the advice of her teachers this year, and have had her test to be in third grade at her new school next year. We won’t know the results until the end of July, and we know that God will place her wherever she needs to be. If it’s His plan for her to be in third grade, she will be. If she’s meant to stay with her age group peers, she’ll be in second grade. And we are working hard to encourage her that either result is perfect because it’s God’s plan. Her perfectionist side says she didn’t do well on the math test, but she OFTEN came home this year saying that about math tests, and then she’d get them back and would have gotten 100 or just missed one. So we really don’t know what to expect. She has to receive at least an 80% on each of the four subject area tests she took. So we anxiously await those results. This opportunity was truly made for kids like her.
And then we got more confirmation of that today. We had received an email that she’d be receiving a character award at the end of the year awards ceremony this morning, and we were ready with the phone to video when her teacher started talking. But she didn’t receive a classroom award. Instead, the principal started talking at the end, and we knew that was it. She received the “Hugo Award” – which is essentially the Student of the Year award. For all of first grade. Based on character and academic achievement. I’m still in shock at how far she has come. I can still see myself, sitting in the floor, pregnant with Gray, bear-hugging my toddler who had just had another meltdown and was screaming and kicking, and I was begging God to take away whatever was making her crazy and just calm her down. And I started singing. Softly. Under the screams, into her ear. I started singing “Amazing Grace.” Tears were streaming down my face and I gave up. I gave her to God and said, “I can’t do this anymore.” And she went limp in my arms. If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have given up so quickly. But that’s exactly what I needed to do. I needed to let go and trust Him with all of her disabilities and all of her abilities. I needed to realize that He wasn’t expecting Cody and me to do this on our own. He was expecting us to trust Him with her. She isn’t ours, she is His. Once I realized that, she was free to start becoming who He has made her to be today – and beyond. I am so proud of who she is becoming. She truly has a heart of gold, and is the most loving and thoughtful person I know. We are beyond blessed to be her parents and get to watch her grow up.
I recently asked her to finish some famous proverbs with whatever words she thought fit best. Some of them ended up super silly. But some of them ended up with my mouth hanging open. I’ll share those here. Because it speaks to the depth of her thoughts, the depth of her faith, and to possibly why the entire first grade team of teachers chose HER out of all of the kids they could select from.
It’s always darkest before … sunrise.
Never underestimate the power of … Jesus.
Don’t bite the hand that … does good.
If you lie down with dogs, you’ll … get licked all over your face.
Love all, trust … God.
An idle mind is … irresponsible and lazy.
Happy the bride who … married a good man.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and … the world helps you.
There are none so blind as … the one who does evil.
Children should be seen and not … be ignored.
When the blind lead the blind … to Jesus, He heals them.