Tuesday, December 11, 2007

True Grip

By example, Madeline teaches lessons in courage and determination every day. She keeps up with her classmates even though she was born without regular fingers on her left hand.

She joins in fingerplays. She takes piano lessons after school. She passes out snack. She shoots baskets and rides bikes and scooters. Madeline does lots of two-handed tasks with the five strong fingers she has on her right hand.

She even does some very difficult tasks, tasks that are hard even for ten-fingered kindergartners.

Swinging across the rings on the east play structure is one of the hardest things for a kindergartner to do outside. Designed for children 6 to 9 years olds, the rings are far enough off the ground to seem risky to a five year old. The smooth metal rings can be slippery and hard to grip. They hang too far apart for outstretched kindergarten arms to reach except by vigorously swinging the legs. To dismount successfully, a student must take a short, well-timed leap to reach landing platform. At the beginning of the kindergarten year, crossing the rings is out of reach. By the end of kindergarten, a few have mastered it.

A little while ago, Madeline decided she would try to cross the rings. I did not imagine that it would be possible for her to do this. I would not have suggested that she even try. How could she do a very difficult two-handed task with only five working fingers?

Her idea was to use the crook of her left elbow and get across that way.

With grit and gumption, she tackled her self-assigned task. She fell some. Practice rubbed the skin on the inside of her elbow until it was red. But the determination in her eyes was enough to make me believe that she would achieve her goal.

A short time later, Madeline proudly announced that she could cross the rings. Here, look:

You don't need 10 fingers to have a good grip on life.

Psst: Remember that tomorrow is Dress for Hawaii Day. Send your child to school in a Hawaiian shirt, a shell necklace, a straw hat, whatever!


Uncle Mark said...

Wow! You go Maddie!
That's my niece right there!

Nori said...

Madeline is super amazing in all things and we are soooo proud of her. Thanks for this recognition of how great she is.

Grampa and Gramma E

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

Uncle Mark and Grampa and Gramma E, you have EVERY reason to be proud of her. She's inspiring!

Uncle Mike said...

I finally got to this and am quite impressed but know my brother and Maddie reminds me of him very much...never giving up. Challenges to others are opportunities for them. Sad that in this day in age more people would think we should get rid of the rings as they could "hurt" Maddie or make it "hard" for her to cope with a different ability. Good for Maddie showing the world that she can do great things no matter what others think. I am proud of my niece. Love Uncle Mike