It may not look like a Coach or Michael Kors bag but I use it with pride. I will admit initially I was hesitant to carry this purse around, especially as the number of stickers multiplied.
But as weeks went on and some fell off while being instantly replaced by new stickers , I began to see my handbag as a symbol of something grand. It slowly became a conversation starter in checkout lines or walking down the street. The stickers went from a combination of superheroes and Ninja Turtles to my purse being adorned with only Anna and Elsa stickers. A revelation occurred to me—- Let it Go.
I bet you may be asking…. where do the stickers come from? My son has Childhood Apraxia of Speech and attends therapy four days a week. Two days a week are school based and this is where he gets a sticker after each session. He usually picks the same one from the movie Frozen. After every session he gleefully gallops into the hallway to plant the sticker on my purse with an enormous smile on his face. Anyone who has children knows that you do not decline a gift from them. These stickers have come to represent the long journey we continue to weather. The process of receiving these stickers from my son reminds me regularly to let go of my fears and worries that come from being mother of a child with a speech disorder.
BUT the fears of struggling to make friends, not being understood , or having difficulty in school—those are MY fears. Fears over his future rather than embracing the beauty of the present. He has gone from the quiet observer on the outskirts of his classroom to a confident, social butterfly with his peers in the course of the school year. His speech has improved enough for him to feel comfortable with his peers and begin to develop relationships. Even though his friends cannot always understand what he is saying they accept him fully for being his charismatic self. He has always been an extroverted , energetic child so it was difficult to see him initially isolated from others in his classroom. He now reciprocates when others converse with him. I love hearing him shout ‘bye” proudly when he leaves, even if it is too loud. Instead of hearing loudness I relish in the thought that he no longer leaves off the “b” sound.
He has little fear and when he does experience fear he plows through the experience. With a broken arm he still climbs high on the playground and he still tries to play catch with friends. He looks forward to speech therapy each day. No joke!! At his age it is play based, fun, and there is no stigma from his peers. He has not asked why he attends therapy and we have never made it sound like a negative experience. My son approaches life as most young children do—he lives in the present. He treats each day has a gift. Yes, he is only approaching his 5th birthday but I believe we can learn from our children. He lives for today. He does not worry about his future, limits,an IEP , or a prognosis. As a mother I can tell you some days it is near impossible to let go of fear. Instinctively we want what is best for our children and we drive ourselves crazy because we wonder if we are doing enough, doing what is best, or doing it all wrong. But we must stop, let it go, and trust our hearts that we are doing the best we can in the current moment.
I promise you—children are resilient, children live for the moment, and children surpass “limits” on their own timetable.
Every time I receive a sticker from my son the lyrics to Let it Go play in my head . The lyrics have become my mantra. The words echo through my mind I imagine my son singing one of his favorite songs to me:
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry!
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on!
So I proudly carry my purse, stickers and all, as a constant reminder to let it go—fear, worry, anxiety, anger— and instead fill myself with positive emotion. It is easy make the mental switch when I am in the presence of my charismatic, smiling boy. The best I can do is continue to model positive thinking as he gets older. I have a feeling he will continue to push through the storm, continue to raise the bar, and be an inspiration to other young kids with speech and sensory issues….on his own, with me on the sidelines. 🙂