Akeelah & the Kindergarten Graduation
I work really hard to not be one of those moms who talk about their children constantly - yet here I am blogging about her! Motherhood is different for every woman, and my story is worth sharing.
This goofy, girly, glitter loving diva just graduated kindergarten! And it was a complete and total struggle... lol! From learning to read to self esteem issues, we went through it all. So we are taking the time to truly celebrate this milestone.
Akeelah began kindergarten bright eyed and bushy tailed. She was so excited to learn and make new friends. I was so scared for her to leave a small daycare and go to a big school. I worried if she would actually make it to her class each day or if she would just wander the halls lost and confused. I worried about her lunch since she has every food allergy in the world(peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, dairy, eggs, wheat), and if she would eat enough. I was concerned about bigger children bullying her or harming her physically. Well the good news is that I didn't have to worry about those things at all. No, I had to worry about the fact that her teacher says Akeelah is not doing her work.
Akeelah had an issue with maturity. She wanted to play instead of sitting still to learn. She spent most of the time talking with her friends and not listening to her teacher. I punished her by taking things away and we had several talks about it, but she continued to struggle in class. Finally the teacher had to make akeelah sit at a desk by herself, right next to the teacher. That seemed to do the trick.
Akeelah struggled with feeling different because she was isolated and so we had to help her feel like she was still a rockstar no matter what went on in the classroom. We enrolled her into a dance class to help build her confidence. The class reareally helped! She was able to connect with other children outside of her school who were just as wiggly and talkative as her. She really began to understand that there is a time and place for play and learning.
Akeelah began to get serious about school. She learned to read and write. She learned math and science. She began to ask very specific questions about the world around her. Things were going really well until we were hit with another issue... body image and race.
Akeelah has a best friend who is white (she refers to her as "peach". She adored her cute little friend and talked about her non stop. They have a wonderful friendship and it is so adorable. But then Akeelah wanted to wear her hair like her friend. I had to explain that her hair is different and won't look the same as her friend. Akeelah gravitated towards white dolls because she felt they were prettier. She colored girls "peach" in her coloring books. She told me she wished she was white. This broke my heart.
In the media we are bombarded with images of white women and how they are the standard of beauty. So many women of color suffer from self esteem issues because of this; and I didn't think my child would have that issue at the tender age of 5. This is exactly why I choose to celebrate black women and women of color in my art. It makes me feel so hurt to see women who believe they are not enough. Representation matters. I explained to Akeelah that all women are beautiful no matter what color they are. I emphasized that her skin was beautiful because it is the color of chocolate. I purchased more black barbies and found black art for her room. I gave her positive affirmations everyday:
You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are confident.
You are amazing.
You are smart.
You are strong.
You are a good friend.
You are a blessing.
You are kind.
You are necessary.
Positive affirmations really helped her self esteem.
Akeelah now embraces her hair and decides what style she wants each day. She smiles when she looks in the mirror. She loves to dress up and pick out her own clothes. She is learning to love herself for who she is.
Her dance class is filled with children of all different races and backgrounds.She is learning to celebrate differences and to see the beauty in each person.
This school year was filled with many ups and downs. She made it through storms. She conquered mountains. She learned powerful lessons that will stay with her for life. This may just be kindergarten but to her; and to us this was a huge milestone. I could not be more proud of the person she is becoming. She is ready for first grade!
Get the pink cap and gown here:
Mom's what is your story about how your child overcame adversity? Share in the comments!