Your guitar is blue
You are my dad
And I love you."
As far as gifts from Joy went, it felt like something of a new era. There was a little "I (heart) Mom" pillow for JoyMama, a calendar for JoyDad (what are they trying to tell him?), and a lovely pair of red beeswax candles for both of us that we've been lighting for a festive touch at meals.
It felt really sweet to get gifts from Joy. I was happy to see the inclusion aspect of it too -- this was something the rest of her classmates were doing, something the teacher had thoughtfully organized and parent volunteers had facilitated. I witnessed some of the other kids taking their turn to make candles and saw as how it was mostly grown-ups doing the work, though I think the kids were proud of "their" candles.
I do wonder to what extent Joy had any idea what was going on. She may or may not have been able to have any hand at all in the making of them.
I have some similar wonderings about another procedure that's a regular part of Joy's school day. It's the routine during circle-time at the beginning of the morning where the kids take turns standing up and sharing their news since last they met. Joy participates in this via a GoTalk 4, on which we can record spoken messages that play back when she pushes a picture-button. The standard picture for "news" is a star. (The other button you see on the image is how she says "yes please" or "no thank you" to hot-lunch for that day.)
As with the gifts, this is a routine with a very sweet feel to it. Every morning, I come up with something for her to share. Monday it was "My Grandma and Grandpa came to visit from Kansas." Tuesday we had "I sat on my new rocking chair." I always try to make it something relatively normal-sounding, that the other kids can relate to. After all, this is one of the few consistent times of the day they'll be in one another's company! Rose provides the voice, and does a fantastic job. Joy's teacher and I are both charmed at the way Joy "speaks" in her sister's voice.
The benefits of this are many. Joy gets to take part in a classroom routine. Rose gets to help her sister. Classmates get a little window into Joy's world.
And yet, we're putting words into Joy's mouth every day with this routine, words she did not choose. Words that she can't (yet) choose. Is this befitting the dignity of a six-year-old human being, who does after all have her own thoughts and feelings and opinions? Is it that much different than if one used the GoTalk to make your favorite dolly "talk" by hand-over-hand causing dolly to push that button?
I'm not entirely sure. At this point, I feel we can justify it from a "fake it till you make it" perspective -- one day Joy will learn to share her own news, while dolly never would! -- in addition to all the other positives I pointed out.
As with everything we do in service of inclusion, we'll have to keep re-evaluating as we go.