Ambitious & teachable

Never underestimate the ambition of an adoptee. 

Once they have taken a hold of a steady lifeline, even after they adapt to the good & predictable life, for better or worse they never loose that resilience, that keen awareness, the determination to survive, and to succeed. 

Yesterday Jackie got evaluated by four professionals to see if she can go to school this fall. She has the option to wait a year in kindergarten, to play more, to gain more skills in a familiar and less demanding environment. 

Being in her kindergarten classroom, witnessing the tools and context of her development at this stage, I start to think that this is how life should be like forever, colorful, fun, learning through play… everything I didn’t have in school. I had order, expectations and memorization. Silence and discipline. 

She passed her evaluation, with flying colors in her vocabulary and communication skills (no surprise there) but barely in copying / reproducing shapes. We did not initiate developing her fine motor skills. She now initiates the reading, writing and drawing. Creativity in our house is more freestyle. As life should be about play right now. That’s how kids learn. Through play. Unstructured play. That’s what my intuition says. But I bend my ear to listen with openness to different perspectives. 

The teachers recommended that she stays and plays another year. I’ve been wrestling with this decision for months. I now have two more weeks to make up my mind. Jackie is decided to go to school. It is my job to help her understand to the best of her ability, the implications of that decision. I’m inclined to let her take on the challenge. I have noticed that it is worse when she is not challenged. She doesn’t feel engaged and eventually declines to get involved. We struggle with the English optional, which is not cheap in the last year of kindergarten. She doesn’t even want to bother with it. 

Last night she asked me to be her teacher and help her practice shapes. From simple intersecting lines to more complicated ones. Repeating the shapes in a straight line and keep them relatively the same size. And most importantly, managing the force applied to the pencil, to have control over the lines drawn. 

Then she wrote names of animals. She would ask here-and-there help in spelling, but for the most part she wrote a page of animal names all by herself. 

I remember her determination to be proper, to converse and to act politely, ever since she was just three, when we first met. But over time I observed that she also loves challenges. She has had to catch up and compensate, and that breaks my heart on one hand, and on the other it swells it with pride in her independence and ambition. 

I was told to not expect too much of her academic ability. The more I think about it (and this has haunted me for a long time. Words have such an impact) the more I realize that moment was meant just to lower my expectations, based on a generalization regarding adoptees. My faith, my belief and my sustained actions do not fit in a mold. Much like my daughter’s abilities. She is brilliant. In ways I can’t even anticipate at this stage. She is not mine – She is her own person. 

Every child I lay eyes on, I see brilliancy and tremendous potential. We as humans crave validation and our heart deeply desires to be seen and believed in. Our parents believing in us does not create dependency. It gives us a foundation to rise high. High in spirit, in mind and change the world for the better.