But this party also confirmed concerns I've been expressing throughout the year and ignited a fight I was hoping it wouldn't come to.
After a Patriotic Sing Along in her classroom, Phoebe's class and all the parents who attended went outside to the back of the school's field to celebrate the end of the year. While the long walk to the far back corner was a challenge and Phoebe's legs did get tired, she fought through. She took her time, kept an eye out for holes/uneven ground, and had me carry her when she needed me to. But the long walk and tired legs were nothing compared to how Phoebe felt once we reached the spot of the party.
The back of the field at the school sits at the base of a small hill by a baseball field. There is also a large tree that offers a great deal of shade and protect from the sun. Under there were two tables set up, one with bubble wands for each of the kids, and the other with crafts for the kids to make. As Phoebe and I approached the tables her eyes began to sparkle and she was smiling ear to ear. Crafts and bubbles are two of her favorite things to do! But the closer we got, the sparkle began to leave her eyes and the smile faded to a look of sadness. There, in front of the tables, was an obstacle course for kids to run and jump through. Something Phoebe was not going to be able to do. I noticed the sadness on Phoebe's face, bent down to give her a kiss and whispered "That's ok baby, I'm sure your friends will play with you. You will still have a fun time."
But they didn't. And she didn't. Phoebe would go to where her friends were playing with bubbles and try to play and blow bubbles with them. But what I witness broke my heart in a million pieces. As quickly as Phoebe would join her friends, they would run off in the other direction to play tag, do the obstacle course or just run around the baseball field. Over and over again I watched Phoebe standing alone, sad, fighting back tears.
Phoebe and I did make a craft together and blow bubbles together, but even though she was happy I was there and doing things with her....she still wanted to play with her friends. It wasn't until the room parents called the whole class to do the obstacle course that Phoebe couldn't fight back the tears anymore and broke down crying. She wanted to go inside. Something I was more than happy to do for her. But going inside only made things worse.
I was told Phoebe and I could go inside but we would need to wait in the nurses office until the rest of the class came in, in about 15 to 20 more minutes. If sitting outside and watching her friends run off from her wasn't hurtful enough, now she had to sit in a chair knowing exactly what she was missing. It did not take long after walking into the building before Phoebe was begging me to take her home.
This entire school year Phoebe has not participated in gym or recess. She is not medically cleared. But she has not had to sit outside at recess or in the gym and watch the other kids play. She has not had to see what she was missing, so she never felt like she was missing out. But today that all changed. Today my daughter's heart broke. My heart broke.
And now....I fight.