I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I came home one day last week and noticed that we had gotten mail from Kaitlyn’s school. You know, the mail addressed “To the parents of…” Knowing Kaitlyn, I knew it couldn’t be anything too bad.
Inside the envelope, we had a copy of Kaitlyn’s gifted Education Plan (EP), and a letter from her teacher.
The EP noted that she made great progress in meeting her gifted goals, which is remarkable considering she joined the class so late in the school year. Nothing really new on that front for sure.
The letter from her teacher was something else altogether. It was a nice little note stating how much she enjoyed having Kaitlyn in her class for the small amount of time she was in there. In the letter, she noted how much she enjoyed having our “pensive little girl” in her class. I showed the note to Kaitlyn, and recommended that she grab her dictionary (that’s right, grab the dictionary, not look it up online) to see what pensive meant.
Kaitlyn was pleased to learn that pensive means “dreamily or wistfully thoughtful.” That describes her very well.
Amber and I are fortunate to have such a pensive little girl, and also one who has a desire to always be learning. We are proud that Kaitlyn understands that learning does not take a break for summer.
Considering that Kaitlyn had pretty much announced her retirement before the baseball season ever started (she wants to focus on her next big dream: being an Olympian in Equestrian), her reaction to the season coming to an end last night was a bit of a surprise.
The improvement that Kaitlyn made during this past season was fun to witness. From the first practice to the last game, there was big difference in her ability. For most of the season, Kaitlyn struggled to make contact off the coach, but each game was a step in the right direction. She got her first “real” hit just last week, and I don’t know who was more excited, her, me, or her coach. Then, in her last at bat last night, Kaitlyn made even better contact to record her second hit off the coach this season. What a way to go out!
After the game, there was a little postseason pizza party and trophy presentation. Kaitlyn was all smiles when she got her trophy from the coach. It was a great moment.
As we were heading into the house last night after the game, Kaitlyn was in tears. She was very upset that the season had ended; her reaction was quite the surprise since she had indicated that she was not playing anymore after this season (it wouldn’t be the worst thing if she pulled a “Favre” and came out of retirement). Even more surprising was that she actually thanked Amber and I for letting her play, even though we will always be happy to let her participate in whatever she wants to. As I was talking to her as she went to bed last night, Kaitlyn revealed why she did so good, and why she was so upset; she told me that her teammates “gave me courage” and were supportive of her. That was awesome to hear, and we witnessed how great they all were, not just with her, but in supporting each other.
Amber and I cannot be more thankful to everyone who came out to cheer for Kaitlyn and her teammates. The other parents were supportive of every player on the team, setting a positive example to the kids.
One of my favorite things about being a parent, and one that I know Amber enjoys tremendously as well, are those times when we get to sit back and soak in when Kaitlyn does something or experiences something for the first time. We take a lot of pride in being there to experience so many things with her, and we know that she loves our support and the support of the friends of our who get to be there, too.
Like her reaction the first time we went to Disney.
Or how proud she was after her first pre-K program.
Or how excited she was on her first day of kindergarten, and then again on the first days of first and second grade.
Or how happy she was to start gifted.
And there was her reaction when we boarded the Disney Dream last summer.
Then yesterday, we got to see another look and reaction that I know we will each never forget. We are pretty deep into her baseball season, and she was one of the few players on the team to yet to get a hit off of the coach (the league allows the kids to use a tee when they get two strikes, and she has been successful in those plate appearances). That all changed last night. She had been putting good swings on the ball for the last few games, and last night, it all came together. She hit the ball pretty good, and ran with joy to first base. I can’t even do justice to the smile on her face when she got there, but I know that I am happy to have been right there to witness it.
I can say with all honesty that her reaction ranks toward the top of the list of things that are burned into my memory and that I will happily recall for the rest of my life. It didn’t supplant the look on Amber’s face the first time she heard Kaitlyn cry in the delivery room, but it is up there pretty good, and is one that I will never forget.
The article (click here) is about a girl who has autism and also happens to love American Girl dolls. While I was reading the article, I kept thinking to myself that it could have most certainly been about Kaitlyn.
The cool part about the article is that the subject is just what one mom is doing to make a difference, not only in her daughter’s life, but in the lives of other little girls with autism. This quote sums it up nicely:
“There’s a number of young girls and women on the spectrum who are very passionate about American Girl and very knowledgeable. It is an expertise they can then use as the basis of learning new skills.”
Pretty much as soon as I walked in the door after work last night, Kaitlyn had something she needed my help with. I wasn’t two feet in the door before she came running around the corner, ready to present me with her request to help. As it turned out, her request was to help her with something right up my alley.
One of the things they are learning about in Kaitlyn’s gifted class is about using money and paying for things. They have a little “store” they operate, and the class takes turns “buying” items. Today, it seems, they were going to be using checks to purchase items, and Kaitlyn asked me if I could show her how to write a check. As a banker, this is obviously right in my wheelhouse of things I know about.
After we did some work outside (why waste a beautiful afternoon by staying inside the whole time?), Amber and I dug up some checks for an old account (closed years ago), and it was time for Kaitlyn’s lesson. Kaitlyn and I sat down at the table, and I showed her how to write a check, explaining everything as I went. Satisfied she had the process down after just one example, Kaitlyn took a swing at writing her own check. And she nailed it on the first try!
Kaitlyn ended up writing three checks last night, and I can honestly say that she has a better understanding of the parts of a check and how to properly write a check, than probably about 75% of the customers I have encountered in my time as a banker. Growing up around the banking industry (my mom is also a banker) gave me plenty of opportunities to learn how to write checks, how to count money, and, most importantly, how to balance our register. If our early experiences are indicative of Kaitlyn’s future, she will be just fine when it comes to managing her money (she’s a saver, and stashes money all over her room, yet never seems to have enough).