Friday, November 23, 2007

Princess of Perseverence

Melissa has always been intrigued by princesses. It is her favorite thing to pretend to be. Princesses are beautiful, live in pretty castles, have kitties for pets, ride on ponies, and always get the handsome prince. What more could a girl want? What a life!

For Melissa, life has never been easy. She was born with a rare chromosomal abnormality that leaves her with very low muscle tone, inconsistent learning patterns, decreased speech ability, and social immaturity. The number of doctors and specialists she sees is sometimes overwhelming. She has received help and services through the school district since her first birthday, as well as outside therapies. Even so, Melissa does not yet recognize this as is just simply her way of life.

Things we had always taken for granted with the boys, such as rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, just didn't happen for Melissa. Everything she does, she has to work very hard to learn. Little accomplishments have always been a HUGE deal around here for her. Because of the great support she received from wonderful therapists from the beginning, family, and friends, Melissa has been thriving and soaring. She has many aspirations and whatever interests her, she gives a try. Melissa has a healthy self-esteem, and currently does not see any hindrance in her path.

In school, she continues her hard working attitude. She completes every writing task and assignment even though it takes her twice as long as her peers and usually causes her to miss some free time activity. She works hard at her adaptive physical education group each day so that she is better prepared to participate with her own class on PE days. She gets pulled out of class twice a week for speech so that she can improve her breath support and facial tone in order that she can communicate better with others. She does all this without complaint.

As a parent, it is heartbreaking when disappointment befalls Melissa. After 3 years of dance, the routines became too involved, and Melissa really couldn't figure the moves anymore. Statements such as "I can't do it" seemed so foreign to hear. She became completely dismayed when she watched the video I had taped of her dance show and she saw that she wasn't even close to what the other girls were doing. Watching as all the little girls run through the playground and Melissa remains standing alone because she can't keep up, is almost too much for me to bear.

To her credit alone, Melissa continues to press on. She has traded her dancing shoes for a pair of riding boots and has seemed to finally have found her niche. Watching her sit so tall on her horse, following the directions of her instructor, and controlling an animal 10 times her size, is so very inspiring. Confidence radiates from her during her riding lessons. She has one hour every week where she totally belongs and where everything is right with her world. This is how it should be for the princess that she is...easy, and not so hard.

I never tire of watching her ride...seeing the joy on her face in anticipation, and listening to her excitement about the ride all the way home. It brings tears to my eyes every week. Melissa says that she wants to ride horses for the rest of her life. That's fine with me....I feel very privileged to be the chauffeur for this very beautiful and special little princess of mine.

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