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Yesterday was a time many parents, including us, face with optimism but some trepidation: a parent-teacher conference!

I’m a closeted optimist. I want to believe in all the good the world has to offer. My nickname is Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

When it comes to my daughter, like most parents, I think the world is my child’s oyster.

But I also know she will have some challenges other children, who become teenagers and then young adults, will not.

Some people may make snap decisions about Ellen’s abilities and underestimate them.

Ellen und ihre LehrerinFortunately, Ellen’s teacher this year knows the real deal.

Her first comments to Ben and me yesterday were, “Ellen has the best manners. Her fine-motor skills are improving. She anticipates and participates. She is loving and non-judging. She has tons of friends. She has grit.”

I waited for the thud moment. It never really came. If it did, it was in the most gentle way about Ellen’s penmanship which is tied to her fine-motor skills. Ellen was praised for her clear, logical thinking, for words she uses that are complex. The difficulty is reading what she writes!

As Ellen’s parents, we know that she will need extra attention when it comes to anything fine-motor related (and very likely mathematical) although she has made great strides. Her reading and verbal skills, and her understanding two languages that we speak at home, are beyond what I ever would have thought possible. Even if Ellen were not my daughter, I would define her as precocious in those areas.

But I  don’t want my daughter overly defined, and I believe the sky can be the limit if … if …

if only she has people around her like her extraordinary teacher who has fortified my daughter’s natural confidence. It makes all the difference in the world. I’m still catching up personally! I want confidence to be second nature for my daughter.

At the end of our meeting, Ellen’s teacher said, “You know, I think her extra chromosome makes her extra special. Together we will move mountains.”

A grown man had to fight back tears. I succeeded, but barely.