Ashley danced with a boy today for the first time, and that boy was not one of her brothers. Ashley is in the 6th grade in middle school, and although her school is large and has several hundred students, Ashley spends most of her day with 2 other students and three adults in a self-contained special education classroom. I'm told this is in her best interest and will enable her to learn more quickly. I'll debate that point later, but for now, I want to concentrate on the dancing.
Myles, a student from the 'regular' education class - which means he has no disabilities and can join all the other 'normal' students in their educational pursuits - was in the gym at the same time with Ashley. Myles is a very unique, special boy. Unlike many of his young teen peers, he doesn't seem saddled with the normal teenange angst of appearing different or standing out in a crowd. Myles is at his best when standing out from the crowd. Unlike my two sons who would have rather fallen deep into a hole than speak to an adult while standing with their friends, Myles will yell and wave wildly from across the gym when he sees Miss Amy, Ashley's adult companion.
On the day of dancing, Myles was dressed in his formal chorus clothes - a white shirt, black pants and a tie. That attire alone would cause most teenagers to sulk and avoid all contact with the rest of the human race, but not Myles. Myles walked over to Ashley, placed her hands in his and assumed the formal dance position. As the moved clumsily around the gym floor, both Myles and Ashley had big smiles on their faces, and for a moment, the rest of the often cruel world ceased to exist. My daughter was dancing with a boy and she was beautiful.
Ashley is 11 years old. I adopted her when she was 2 years old. She had just survived surgery for the removal of a brain tumor for the second time. Ashley's birth mother was an alcoholic who didn't provide the appropriate prenatal care. Ashley was born at 26 weeks gestation and weighed just 2 pounds. Her list of disabling conditions is great - deafblind, fetal alcohol syndrome, epilepsy, developmental delay, feeding problems, asthma, and medical fragility - yet her spirit and desire to live life to the fullest is greater. She is a beautiful person with the soul of an explorer. She continues to amaze me and all the other people whose paths she crosses. And today, she took yet another step on her journey to maximizing her life - she danced with a boy for the first time.