A letter to this one as she starts kindergarten in just a few days…

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I swear to god we just took this picture, in complete awe of you on your first night home.

Awe mixed with slight terror thanks to a then still unconfirmed Down syndrome diagnosis.

I took so many pictures of you that first year. Partly because it was my job as a first-timer and partly because I was desperate to show the world how wrong it is about this condition.  How beautiful, capable and worthy of all of life’s privileges you are.

As I mentally prepare myself to fill your little backpack with school supplies, snap a few obligatory pictures (or who am I kidding – like 200 obligatory pictures) and give one last hug before you climb the stairs of the school bus to kindergarten, I can’t help but look back on how far we’ve come since that first night home.

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There’s the developmental stuff.  We worked so hard at all of your physical milestones, from rolling over to pedaling a bike.  Your speech has exploded again and again, becoming lightyears clearer, especially in the last few months.  I still instinctively translate much of what you say for others but find myself backing off as you’re becoming quite able to communicate for yourself.

And the academic stuff.  You know your letters, numbers, shapes and colors just as well as the next kid. We’re working on writing legibly and I’m excited to get back to learning how to read since we haven’t put too much effort in that department in the past few months.  I worry about how you’ll do in class each day without the explicit attention you’ve come to expect.

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Your confidence is killer.  You enter a room and command attention.  Usually for the right reasons.  I’m not sure where you inherited this trait but I admire it and have been learning from it.

Your ability to make friends is second to none.  I watched your magic in action last Friday as we visited your new after-school program.  Within minutes, you’d collected a circle of older girls around you on the floor and had them all giggling right along with you.

A little extra chromosome will not take you down.   …Pun intended.

I’ve got just a few days left to mentally prepare to hand the responsibility of your learning over to a bunch of strangers.  Sure you’ve been learning in daycare and preschool forever but kindergarten – this is the real deal.

Soak it all up.  Make a ton of new friends.  Learn everything you can.  Slow everyone down if that’s what it takes – you are just as entitled as all the rest of the kids to get an education.  They’ll learn more from just being with you than anything having to do with all that common core nonsense anyway.

Go get ’em, bug.  I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Love, Mom