The Time My Daughter's School Friends Became Her Biggest Allies
One Wednesday morning I pulled up to Brenna’s school to pick her up and she emerged, holding her aide’s hand as usual.
A little boy from her class also followed her out and was greeted by his own family member picking him up. “Bye Brenna!” he called to her, and I whispered a reminder to her, “What do you say?”
She turned to him and softly said, “Bye!” as well.
“I love you, Brenna!” he proclaimed back with a big smile on his face.
Any worries I had about school are subsiding, at least for now. I’m sure problems will pop up over the years – I won’t pretend I’m not dreading middle school years – but we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how little Brenna’s skin condition has been an issue in her new school.
Brenna’s classroom includes both “typically developing” kids as well as kids who are considered “at-risk” in any way – from single parent families to a disability. And as far as I can tell, the children are all extremely bright and enthusiastic about school, not to mention very accepting and loving.
I received an email from Brenna’s teacher just last week with photos from that day’s outside play time. “Brenna was so excited to go outside, and all of the kids were excited she was outside with them. They all wanted to play with her!” she wrote.
I feel like Brenna is not just gaining friends, but also allies.
When Brenna started school, a woman wrote to me that she had worked with special education kids and has she noticed an encouraging trend: “As the kids get older, the children in their class who have known my special kids and grown up with them tend to be very loyal and stick up for them in the face of any insults or bullying.”
Though we hadn’t thought of it exactly like that, there is a huge reason we chose a small school: we wanted everyone to be educated about Brenna’s skin. It is our hope that she will always be “just Brenna” and hardly anyone will question her skin because that’s just who she is, just a girl they have always known.
Brenna is already starting to form an entourage – and not just in her own class.
Once a week, Connor and I accompany Brenna to one of her therapy sessions at school. The therapy room is located on the back of the library, where there is always a class of older kids reading.
All it took was one question, “Why is her face red?” which was answered kindly, nonchalantly by Brenna’s therapist: “She was born with special skin.”
Now some of the little girls line up at the door when they know it is time for our therapy appointment so they can say hello.
“Hi Brenna!” they now greet her enthusiastically. “Hi!” she calls back, as she approaches them, waving her mittens with squeaky puppies attached. “I have my doggie mittens on!” she shows them.
I see it every day in my own house, with my own kids, who are growing up seeing difference not as different but as normal. And now I am noticing transformations in other children as Brenna steps out into the world.
In fact, just last week, as Brenna was surrounded by her posse of older girls, a little boy in their class wandered up and asked, “What happened to her?” Several of his peers shot him an annoyed look and retorted “NOTH-ING.” I had to look away to hide my teary eyes as those little girls became defensive of my own girl.
I am grateful to be witnessing the understanding and acceptance in these kids’ hearts each week… these children are truly brightening the world with their hugs, hellos and “I love you”s.
This post originally appeared on Blessed by Brenna
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