Saturday, May 19, 2012

Celebrating 8th Grade Graduation!

Last night we celebrated three of our girls' 8th grade graduation.
It was a very special night.
Julia, Sveta, and Annalyn
What three amazing girls.

They chose to go to Marie Calendars for dinner.
The ribs were messy.

The fried shrimp were crunchy!
The fried green beans were yummy!
It was a very special time out.

As a surprise for the girls, especially for Sveta who has wanted to go ever since she found out about the place-- we took them to an indoor race track.  Sveta's birthday is in a few weeks and we are going to miss it, so we thought it was a wonderful opportunity to do exactly what Sveta wanted-- and celebrate not only their graduation, but her birthday too.

They were so excited when they saw us drive up.  It was going to be awesome!
We filled out the paperwork, watched the video, put on our helmets, and watched the race before us.
To see the excitement in Sveta's eyes filled both our hearts with joy.
She may not be able to drive a real car, but at least she would be able to experience this.
The instructor went over everything, and though Sveta seemed to have trouble completely understanding the concept of green means go and red means stop-- we all thought she would get the hang of it once she actually started driving.  Just to be safe, the instructor set all of our cars to the slowest setting.
Soon we were off!
Sveta was the first to go and I followed closely.
All was good.  Little did I know that behind me, Annalyn had jumped one of the tire islands.  Don't worry she was fine as she quickly grasped how to maneuver the cars.  I added this tidbit to show that everyone can have a rough start and eventually get the hang of things.
As we neared our first lap, things went wrong.
Instead of following the track and doing her next lap, Sveta turned left to head back to where she started which was full of race cars.  It was where the next drivers stood and watched us-- so of course there was a tire divider.  Sveta did not know how to stop and drove right into that tire divider head on.  I didn't actually see her hit, but I was concerned and slowed down to see how she was.  She was able to talk to the guy, and he seemed to be instructing her further.  I was sure she would be back out on the track.  As I made a few more laps, I finally saw her getting out of the race car and walk back to where everyone else was waiting.
As I parked my race car to see what was wrong, the instructor came and talked to me.
I assumed she was just scared to get out there again and that was why she was not racing.
But the instructor told me that it was not safe for her to be on the track because she had no concept of how to work the pedals.  She could not understand that the right green pedal meant go and the left red pedal was to brake.
My heart sank.
Sveta was not going to get the change to get the hang of it because she couldn't.
I can't explain how my heart broke right then and there for my daughter.
I looked over the instructor's shoulder and saw Sveta bravely standing there holding her helmet.  She was teary-eyed and red faced.  Bless her heart, she was so brave.
He told me that she hit pretty hard and would most likely be sore in the morning
I went to her to comfort her.  It was very hard to hold back my tears.
Until you are a Mom of a special daughter such as Sveta, I don't think you can begin to imagine the pain and anger and sadness of such a situation.
Reality is hard sometimes.  Especially when something like FAS (which is that cause of her intellectual disability) is totally preventable.
John saw that something was wrong, so he parked his car too with the girls following.
Sveta was embarrassed and couldn't quite understand why they wouldn't let her back out on the track.
But the beautiful awesomeness inside her didn't let on that she was having all these feelings inside her.
Honestly, I couldn't be more proud of her as I was of her at that moment.
I was more upset with myself for allowing this to happen.
John and I thought we were doing the right thing by allowing Sveta to try something she really wanted to do, when instead we should have protected her from the pain and embarrassment of this situation because we should have known that this would be too hard for her.  

Taking this picture was really hard for me since we were here because Sveta really wanted to to try the race track and it was her who was denied the opportunity to race.   In a perfect world it would have been her standing up there!
Just to show you how awesome Sveta is despite the unexpected turn of events-- she ended with saying that she still had so much fun racing around the track that one time.

Afterwards, we took the girls shopping and then we went for frozen yogurt.
We got home pretty late.
At the end of the night, all three girls had said they had a wonderful time-- which is all that counts.

Each of our girls are so uniquely and wonderfully made that it is a blessing to be there parents.  Guiding them, encouraging and praising them to be all that God plans them to be is such a growing experience for John and I.  Just when we think we have seen it all, we are presented with another  learning experience that stretches us to be more compassionate, more loving, more accepting, and to cherish all that life has and is.

Happy graduation girls!  Now on to high school!


  1. Sounds like a lovely night... congratulations to Julia, Annalyn and Sveta. I can imagine that the event at the racetrack must have been so hard for Sveta. :(

  2. Such beautiful girls! I always wanted a twin sister... the only ones I got were 11 and 12 years younger. :)

    Congratulations on a milestone for all 3!

    You know, you should not beat yourself up too badly. You did what you thought was ok. Take heart in she had fun, got to try it and not the whole family saw it happen. I can understand your mama-heart that wishes you had made a different choice. Blessings as you continue to choose...

  3. Congratulations girls, on your graduation! What an accomplishment! heart breaks right along with you. I certainly understand that pain and wanting to protect your child from the heart ache. Please take comfort in the fact that it caught you off guard, because Sveta is doing so well in so many areas of her life. I am constantly getting caught off guard with these kinds of thing with Maddie. I bought her sunglasses the other day, completely forgetting she doesn't have any ears to hold them up. Ugh. It broke her heart, and mine, when she put them on and figured out that they wouldn't stay on. She wanted those glasses so badly...and as a mom I just want to help her enjoy the little things in life. I'm still trying to figure out how to get them to stay on, without drawing more attention to her disability. Maybe a really cute headband with the glasses attached somehow. ;) ((hugs))

  4. I think you can get some pedal setups for game machines (not sure about the Wii). Perhaps if you got something like that and gave her heaps of practice on a racing game you could try it again sometime once she has the pedal concepts grasped. It might take some time, but I'll bet she has the tenacity to work at it.

  5. I just need to say that I love how you and John take time to be with each of your children, and to truly know them. :) Some would think that a family your size wouldn't have "enough parents to go around", but you definitely prove otherwise! I am excited for you to add your two newest additions into your big, happy, family!

    Keep up the good work!!!

  6. Despite the fact you may not have a picture of Sveta standing on that number one - I can see her there. It takes a brave and amazing kid, like Svteta to keep on trying new things even if it may not go well. The fact that she was able to keep a brave face on, and let everyone continue having fun despite her own struggle shows a ton of a maturity and bravery on her part - I know if it had been been me the tears would have been flowing and I probably would have ruined it for everyone - you have a winner there. A brave amazing girl!

  7. Christine,
    Your post is beautifully written, straight from the heart and compassionate.
    Your kids are blessed to have you and John. I know, I know, you're blessed to have the kids, but the fact is, they are mightily blessed too.
    I love the photos you took of the girls. The color combinations are stunning.
    My heart breaks over what happened to Sveta. It seems to me that God compensates in children who struggle with challenges, by giving them grace in other areas.
    I am glad for her that she was able to hang together and have a great attitude about it. That positive outlook will carry her through other things too.
    God bless your beautiful brood. I am thinking and praying for you and John as you go to get your two waiting sons.
    Love and joy,

  8. Oh! That makes me sad, especially having Angela who won't be able to drive but *thinks* when she turns 16 means she CAN! Does Sveta participate in Special Olympics? It's so much fun, and a great way to feel success!

  9. Christine: you never cease to amaze me with your parenting. God has given you skill that I wish I had. I am glad the night was lovely and you had a good time.

    Congratulations girls!

  10. Aww, Christine, of course, I had tears in my eyes as I pictured Sveta's hardship on the track. I can so relate to this. You have every right to be proud of Sveta and the way she handled the huge disappointment on such a special night. What a beautiful girl she is!

  11. The pictures are beautiful! My heart broke for Sveta (and for you) but thank God she is okay. Happy Graduation to her! And her sisters.

  12. I know you changed your mind, but I do think that you did the right thing by letting her have a go even though it is the instinct of the mother to protect a child from this sort of sadness. I know from reading the blog that many times Sveta surprises you with the concepts she can grasp, and in my mind, from an outside perspective, it is always better to try and see than prevent her from even attempting. Sometimes, like this time, it won't pay off for you and for Sveta, but other times, she will have the time of her life, and as a mother, your heart will swell with pride.
    Sveta, despite the challenges she faces (and the reality is that there are many, especially as she grows older) is a lucky girl.. She has plenty of siblings that will always be there for her, but most importantly, this post demonstrates that she has two parents who love her totally and unreservedly.

  13. My heart hurts for her. I hate when my children get hurt and I'm sure you feel the same. Life is so much harder for some. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to help my 21 year old asperger child. We have no clue how to get him launched into adult life. He failed all 8 classes at college this past year and doesn't want to try that again.

  14. Christine, don't beat yourself up--you definitely did the right thing by letting her try something new! Sometimes it works out, sometime it doesn't, but it sounds like she had a great attitude!

  15. My heart breaks for Sveta. I can't imagine how hard that would be.

  16. As I have said over and over, I read this blog in large measure to hear news of Sveta, as I grasp for any shred of idea what is coming ahead for us. Your blog gives me hope that our destructive, befuddled 7 yo adopted only a year ago from her groupa, can find the grace that Sveta showed tonight. Our Madison has a similar sweet spirit, yet as we see the FAS damage we find ourselves more and more doubtful that she will ever be able to drive. What I am more hoping, though, is that we can achieve grace and acceptance for her. As you get to the teen years, I will be hungrily following for any advice. So, thanks for sharing this painful event. I will keep it in mind as we make choices for Madison, even though part of me thinks you made the right choice to let her try.
    Blessings, Sherry

  17. I completely understand! Being their external brain is very, very hard. We want them to experience everything. There is such a fine line between knowing what is the right thing to do and what is the better thing to do for them. I've found over the years that the decisions unfortunately get harder. Yet, they tend to have an amazing spirit. There are so many things that she CAN do that will more than make up for not being able to drive. Trust me though, I know where you are with all this. We're in the same position. Happy graduation to the girls! Stephanie

  18. Congrats to your girls! Those are great pictures of all three of them.

    I feel so bad for Sveta, but she really did well holding it together!I used to work with a wonderful young man who had Down's Syndrome and he constantly talked about being able to drive when he turned 16. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to do so when he reached that age and it was a huge disappointment. He told me that he understood he wasn't like everyone else, but he'd really wanted to drive. He had a great attitude though and went on to fulfill other dreams, one of which was working at a gas station! I've always admired him for being so happy and positive, even when things didn't go his way and it sounds like Sveta is a wonderful young woman with a good attitude, as well.

  19. Prayers and blessings for Sveta!

  20. oh sweet girl. Hugs to her. Some places have two person cars... so she can at least ride along...

  21. Congrats to the Grads! I don't normally comment, although I've been a regular for a long time. I just want to say that Sveta is precious to me. He face just lights up when she smiles! (Between us, she's my favorite! Don't tell anyone I said that, because I love every.single. one of them!) ;D

    I think it was wonderful that you gave Sveta the chance to try the cars! No one could know that the accident would happen and it was a learning experience for all of you. Just as You & John felt badly for her, her two sisters probably felt sad for her, too. Hopefully this experience will be something that helps them understand her when other difficult times come up. And, I have a feeling that someday, all of you girls will be up late at night and will be giggling over the memories!


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