Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Oh say, can you see?

Hi friends!

My sweet friend, Kate, is here to share a story with you today. Enjoy!

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Two Julys ago, shortly after we moved to rural Alabama (#thingsIneverthoughtI’dsay) we took our daughter Madeline to see the fireworks.  She was two years old at the time.
Madeline is special for a lot of reasons, but one of them is that she was born blind.
We found out when she was four months old.
(Our story starts here, and continues here and here .)

Since we received Madeline’s diagnosis in 2008, we’ve been waiting for the day that she can tell us what she can see.  Light? Shadows? Shapes? Colors? Big things? Bright things? Close things?
These were questions that only Madeline could answer.  You would think that with all the advances in modern medicine that there would be some kind of test to run – but there isn’t.  The only way to know what the world looks like to Madeline is to ask her.
(I now know that this is the case for every child.  Vision loss simply served to make it very prominent and literal for us.  One of the lessons we’ve learned through this adventure is: ask your children how they see the world – then listen to them.)
On the Fourth of July, 2010, we took a very chatty, verbal (read: never shuts up!) two-year-old Madeline to see the fireworks.  We underestimated traffic in the most serious way and ended up watching from the side of a highway, next to some fellow Alabamians who were coolin’ it in the bed of their pickup truck on the exit ramp.  We keep it classy down here, folks.
We shot a video that has become one of my family favorites (that’s saying a lot, because it’s hard to beat the face my cat made when he hung himself in our living room curtains).  In this little 2 minute video, Madeline tells us about fireworks in her own words.  PRE-CIOUS.
Take a look:
My favorite part is when she says they’re going off and on, like clapping.  She had no experience with lights going off and on, or TVs going off and on, but she understood sound.  When you clap, there is a sound – then it’s gone –a sound – then it’s gone – a sound – then it’s gone.   Just like fireworks.  Watching her mind work; it’s amazing.
Wishing you all a magical 4th!
much love,
(For any of you know kids with special needs: fireworks are a great multi-sensory experience!  You can hear them, smell them, feel them, and see them!  There is super high-contrast (bright lights in the pitch-black sky) - so even people with low vision can enjoy them in a lot of ways.  If your child has sensory issues, don’t forget the earplugs!)

Kate Elizabeth Conner is a writer, speaker, and first generation southerner who spends her days learning braille, counseling teenagers via text message, and adjusting to life in rural Alabama. Kate writes at http://kateelizabethconner.com/ about surviving parenthood, teenagers, and her twenties with her faith and sense of humor intact. She believes in music and coffee and prose–and in all the world, nothing has taken hold of her like Christ.


  1. Truly extraordinary - in every sense of the word. It has inspired me to ponder the extraordinary in my own children tonight, to the extent that It hink I've just found my frist blog entry, if anyone will post it! Thank you for the reminder to look for the awe in every moment!

  2. how sweet is this!

    visit nichollvincent.blogspot.com

    happy fourth!

  3. Oh my gosh, what a sweet memory of your daughter! I love it!

    Visiting from Red, White and You.



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