My daughter is becoming a very small fish in a bigger pond
As her 8th grade graduation nears, a teen with Rett anticipates high school
For the past two months, I’ve been overwhelmed with thoughts of an upcoming milestone: My oldest, Cammy, will be graduating eighth grade at the end of this month. I imagine this transition is difficult for a lot of parents, especially if it’s the first child who’s going through it. Since Cammy has Rett syndrome, this commemoration has my thoughts and emotions all over the map.
As all incoming high schoolers realize, they’ll go from the eighth grade life of being the big fish in a little pond to being freshmen, who are definitely smaller fish in a bigger pond. They begin a brand-new journey. For some, starting anew in this way is exciting; for others, leaving comforts behind is scary.
Cammy will leave behind her team of teachers, aides, therapists, and some classmates that she’s had for the past three years. Her routine, which she thrives on, will change. The high school will be a lot bigger, as will the students. Cammy, however, will probably stay the same size — less than 4 feet tall and under 40 pounds — for her high school career. There’s no doubt that she’ll be the littlest fish in that high school pond.
A lot of parents will celebrate their children’s intellectual success and feel excited about their high school tracks. Others will honor their child’s success in sports, music, art, and other extracurriculars. We’ll focus on just how far Cammy has come and all that she’s accomplished thus far.
She has exceeded some doctors’ expectations of life expectancy. Cammy, along with her family, has raised over $1 million for Rett syndrome research for the International Rett Syndrome Foundation. Her social media platform has created more awareness for Rett syndrome than any other I know about.
Our daughter has proven her intelligence and kindness to her school team. She’s taught others patience, communication, and the idea of presence over presents. More than anything, she’s taught everyone more about life than they could possibly teach her. Cammy has given them the gift of perspective — just being around her puts everyday worries into perspective.
For Cammy, we’re not thinking about the typical stuff most parents of high school children anticipate — taking on course loads, securing a spot on teams, navigating their way in a new school, and having classes with friends. We’re focused on her being safe and happy. That seems so simple, yet it can be so complicated.
Regardless, we know Cammy will make big waves in high school. Here’s to her future!
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