Written by Marriette, Jessie’s Mama
In Jessie’s younger years, before school she was carefree but shy/reserved. Jessie was always caring and compassionate to others. Especially if someone was being bullied or just sad. She was always very nurturing/caring towards her younger Brother Daniel who has cerebral palsy.
Then school happened. Jessie enjoyed being around friends and playing. She loved the social part of school & she was excited / proud to go to school! As school began to progress into math, time telling, spelling, learning about money, and memorizing. I noticed Jessie wanted to apply herself but it was difficult for her to grasp the concept. Therefore making her not wanting to go to school. Jessie was always good at working hard but struggled keeping up to what the other kids were doing. It made her feel sad. Because Jessie was such a kind hearted person that followed the rules she fell through the cracks because the teachers didn’t pick up on any negative behaviours. Since Jessie would internalize it so others around her wouldn’t be effected. She was a master at hiding what was really going on. At a young age Jessie found other ways to get the job done but it was an extreme internal battle.
I guess the big turning point was when I starting find out that Jessie had a learning disability. I made sure to not ignore it and implement tools in her life. In grade 4 Jessie hit a brick wall because all the other kids were finding their work easier and this really effected Jessie. It ended up effecting a lot of things in her life, since Jessie felt like a failure in school. She got scared of trying new things / anything unknown for the fear failing in front of her peers. Even right down to doing something silly and having people laugh at her! It didn’t help that the majority of her friends were intellectually gifted either.
Since Jessie was a kind, passionate person who was talented in sports and creativity. The fact that she was a pretty girl a lot of the girls bullied her. Jessie would just let it happen and would always tell me about it because it would make her really upset. But she never wanted to hurt anyone so she was always kind back, almost too kind. Here’s a little back story – I was the kind of mother to tell my daughter to stand up for herself in a kind, direct, and non punishing way because that’s what I did as a kid. When a circumstance happens you deal with the bully head on. If a bully was physically doing something to someone I knew, who couldn’t take them on I would take them on! They would have to make the first move but I would deal with it so they wouldn’t be a bully anymore. They knew if I was around on the playground if I saw someone bullying another I was going to deal with it. ( Even Jessie’s father was like that as well. ) So as you can see my daughter was nothing like me! Where as Jessie would talk to the person who was being bullied to encourage them or make them feel better.
Family was Jessie’s safe place. Although there were stresses there too because her younger brother Daniel, tended to get all the attention because of his special needs. As much as we did our best to be aware of that. We had to be very proactive in giving our attention to Jessie and finding the things that made her feel special. One of those things were figure skating! Jessie was very talented in sports but didn’t enjoy team sport for fear of letting her team down. She ended up taking to figure skating because it was more individual and she loved to dance on the ice. She was a competitive figure skater for years up until the end of high school! Figure skating was probably one of the only things that made Jessie happy during those years. She also enjoyed going on family snowboarding trips & to the cottage!
Because Daniel has cerebral palsy, Jessie had to emotionally and mentally mature at an early age to have greater understanding of what that meant to our family and its dynamic. As a family, we learned to be good communicators and problem solvers. If our family was having a bad day or if we as parents were at each other Jessie would hold family meetings. One time I remember she set up the ironing board in her room with an old lap top computer she had to play on. She would tell us how she was feeling, then we would all talk about it and reassure her that everything was okay!
As a parent I wanted to do as much as I could for her before she reached high school. So she would have the tools and confidence to enjoy it! I also prayed pretty hard hoping we wouldn’t have a rebellious teenager! All the hard work of figuring out her learning disability, home schooling her for a year, putting her in specialized schooling specifically for learning disabilities paid off! THANK GOODNESS! I think the biggest thing was helping Jessie be aware of her weaknesses and strengths in academics. Plus having the tools to succeed! She went in applied classes and ended up winning a lot of academic awards. Naturally Jessie always applied herself and worked really hard at everything she did. Even when she struggled! Overall, her high school experience was very good. The only thing I can remember that was a true challenge for Jessie was because she is so pretty and thin, girls were mean to her because of the way she looked. They were envious. Other then that Jessie was happy to go to school. She was responsible, hard working, and carefree! Jessie was never rebellious in high school and never put herself in harms way with drinking / drugs or boys. When people truly got to know her she was widely liked by teachers and peers!
To recap even though Jessie struggled so much during her early years it has truly shaped her into the person she is today!
Marriette ( Jessie’s Mom )