After realizing that many of my posts deal with Bella as of late, I thought I would dedicate this post to Mia. While Bella is at the beginning of a very volatile time in her life, Mia is at a very solid, comfortable place in hers. Yet, that wasn’t always the case. From the time she was very young, Mia preferred to play alone and be by herself. She seemed more content that way. As she grew older and started school, some social issues began to pop up and academic ones as well. Everything really came to a head when her 4th Grade teacher came to me and told me that she was very concerned about Mia. I won’t bore you with the details but once she was tested and her diagnosis of Central Auditory Processing Disorder was confirmed. It seemed to truly help her and us to be able to put a framework to her uniqueness.
Mia was named after my grandmother and let me just tell you that my grandmother was one of my best friends. I loved and adored that woman so much and losing her in the early 90’s was the most devastating event of my life. When Mia was a toddler, she would look up sometimes and it was as if my grandmother was in her eyes. Her physical features and some of her facial expressions are exactly like her great-grandmother’s. In fact, a cousin was visiting once and I had told him about Mia’s expressions that were just like our grandmother’s. He was on the floor playing with her and out of the corner of my eye I saw him almost jump out of his skin, startled by something. I looked at him and he just shook his head. Later he told me that he saw the expressions I had told him about and it was as if our grandmother was right there looking at him.
Now, I am not saying that Mia is the reincarnation of her great-grandmother, I don’t believe in reincarnation. What I do believe is that God knew how much I missed my grandmother and he gave me a little piece of her in Mia. He allowed the physical characteristics that were in our gene pool to be prominent in Mia to remind me everyday of my grandmother.
About a year and a half ago, Mia began to grow academically, socially and personally. She and I were always very close because I seemed to understand her when those around her didn’t. When Bella would be “kidnapped” by my mom for a few days at a time over the summer, Mia and I considered those days as “Mommy and Mia Days.” We would do fun things that she wanted to do, go places and spend time together. This was a wonderful time and it built an amazing foundation for us and that trust and comfort that we established then has allowed her to confide in me and flourish over the past year or so.
We understand her learning issues and know how to combat them now, we understand her social quirks and are well on our way to ironing them out and she has made amazing strides academically in the past year. Yet, while I may take credit for some of these strides, I need to give credit to that one piece of the puzzle that, when it was finally put in place, made Mia one of the most incredible pre-teens I know. That piece was karate.
Mia hated anything that was competitive; board games, card games, video games – if it was an activity that had a winner and a loser she wanted no part of it. We tried exposing her to extra-curricular activities and while she would participate in them initially, once they began to get competitive she wanted nothing to do with it. I cannot tell you how many flyers came home form school and each time I asked, she would say she wasn’t interested. The day the flyer came home for karate though, I almost didn’t ask her but that little voice, which I am sure was God, told me to ask anyway. I will never forget the smile on her face as she stood in the dining room with her arms raised in the air, “YES!”
This coming weekend she will be graduating to her 5th belt level and she has become one of the leaders of her class. We are at the dojo at least five nights a week and I cherish every moment because she is so happy there; she is in her element. She loves everything about it because they emphasize personal growth and getting better on an individual level and the competitive nature of the sport is gradually built into what they do. The instructors are fun, well-trained and create an environment of positive motivation for the students and the kids have such respect for them – when one of them compliments Mia on how well she did something the smile on her face makes me tear up almost every time. All that runs through my mind is, “Thank you, God!”
Karate spills over into all aspects of her life because they also teach her life skills as part of the program. She works hard everyday at school and knows that because of her CAPD she has to work a little harder, yet through karate she has learned that hard work pays off once you put in the time and efforts necessary. She is well ahead of those of her generation who expect things from life without putting in the work ethic required to earn those rewards.
Two years ago you would have regularly found me in tears, worried about Mia’s future and how she would survive in this world. Today I cry as well, but for the opposite reason!