As some of you know my son attends a special needs kindergarten that belongs to a school. When we started kindergarten I was already looking forward to the annual photo shoots which are a self-evident thing in regular schools and kindergartens. When I asked about the date of the first one I was told that they used to do these kinds of photo shoots some years ago. However, the project was not very successful and so they stopped organising these photo shoots. The reason is that the kids in the school are not as easy to photograph as NT kids because it is much more difficult for them to sit still, to smile when they are supposed to etc. This led to impatient photographers, not so nice pics that the parents did not like and, therefore, did not buy. So the project was abandoned.
I was determined to change that. I wanted to have this kind of picture for my son - and, if I am honest, I wanted it for me, too. We do not have many "normal" things in our life and while all of my friends were able to proudly show me the kindergarten pics of their kids I wanted to be able, too. I wanted to have this little piece of normalcy, too. It really meant so much to me.
I started to search for a good photographer and while my favourite one could not do it I found another one who was willing to give it a try. Her only condition was that there had to be at least 30 kids she could take pictures of because it would not pay off for her otherwise.
I talked to the school principal about my idea and was allowed to send a letter to all parents asking who wanted to partipate. When the letters came back to me it became evident that more than 30 parents wanted to have pictures of their kids so that sealed the deal.
I organised the photo shoot which took place on July 4, 2012. When I arrived at the school on that day during recess some of the kids had already been photographed while others still waited for their big appearance. As I stepped onto the schoolyard the kids came running up to me. Their faces beamed with joy and delight. They were so happy that they were being photographed! They felt like celebrities, like stars. One elderly boy came up to me, smiling happily from ear to ear and telling me full of pride how he had dressed up for the photo shoot, that he was wearing his best shirt, and how much fun he had had during the shoot. I saw so many proud, happy faces. After recess the photo shoot continued and I stayed in order to help and just witness. Some of the kids were quite shy in front of the camera. Maybe they are not used to being photographed or it is just their nature. Others were much more outgoing and self-confident. Most of them just beamed with pride and joy. Some of them did not even want to stop, they could not get enough of the attention. I loved all of the kids.
When we were finished and I left the school my face hurt from my constant grinning. I could not stop smiling. It was one of the most beautiful experiences I had last year.
It showed me that we all want the same thing. We want to be seen, we want to be recognised. We want to be told how beautiful we are, how awesome our hair is, what a pretty smile we have, how bright our eyes shine. These are the things that make us happy inside. These are the things that boost our self-confidence. We want to feel important and acknowledged for who we are. We are all fragile, sensitive, and insecure, and sometimes we just want to be told that we are okay because we forget how beautiful we are. This is what every human being needs, no matter if they have special needs or not. We want to be shown that we are loved.
I have seen so many beautiful children on July 4, 2012 and I am so proud that I organised this event. I selfishly wanted to have a kindergarten picture of my son and I did not know that it would become something so much more important. I was not aware that what I thought would make me happy made these kids even happier. Never had I imagined that it would mean so much more to them. I was not aware of the impact it would have on these children.
I love that I could help them feel important and seen, empowered and needed. I am sure there are a lot of those kids that are not seen in everyday life. People look away, treat them like they are invisible, do not want to deal with disability. It must break those kids' hearts and undermine their spirits. It must make them feel less. How would you feel if you were treated like you were invisible most of the time? These kids want to be seen, too! I am glad and proud that I showed them that they matter, too. I learned a really important lesson on that day and I will never forget their happiness and their brightly smiling faces.
The picture of my son, by the way, turned out beautifully and I am really happy that we have it. But what happened on that day makes me even happier and his picture will always remind me of the abundant joy I experienced on that day.
... oh, you mean... you were looking for a story about the celebration of the American Independence Day? Sorry, no US citizen here! ;-) However, I wish everyone celebrating it a wonderful day and a lot of fun next week!
PS: I am away for the weekend. I will try to link up this post (which is scheduled) and I will also publish comments as soon as I can but I might not be able to get back to you until next week.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post using the sentence “If I could have dinner with anyone in history, it would be…” - See more at: http://www.findingninee.com/to-my-old-man-son/#sthash.fo4fLNQV.dpufThis has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post using the sentence "The best 4th of July I ever had was...".It was brought to you by Kate of Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine…, Janine of Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic, Stephanie of Mommy, for Real and Dawn of Dawn's Disaster. Thank you so much for hosting Finish the Sentence Friday!