The night of the twins' kindergarten graduation arrived. I dressed the girls in their matching pink and lavender lacy dresses with matching socks and black patent leather shoes, then bundled all five kids into the van, and Mischa drove us to the church rec room where the ceremony was to be held. We arrived in time to get a decent parking space, entered the building, took the twins to meet their teacher and classmates, and then sat down in the folding chairs provided.
The walls were painted yellow, and the carpet was brown. We sat looking around at all the other families there until an older student began to play 'Pomp and Circumstance' on the piano, and Mrs. Wiggins led the children onto the stage from a side door. Cadence and Clarity walked in holding hands. Cadence wore a big smile, but Clarity looked slightly worried.
Mrs. Wiggins made some opening statements, and then the class sang the song they'd been practicing, 'The Best That I Can Be.' More announcements followed, and then each child was recognized individually. Then it was time for Cadence's solo act.
I held my breath as I watched her walk to the center of the stage. Would she remember all the words and the accompanying actions?
"I'm a little teapot, short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me shout. Tip me over and pour me out," she sang, making the motions of a teapot being tipped. Everyone clapped as she stood there grinning, and my heart swelled with pride.
As Mrs. Wiggins began to speak again, Cadence raced up to Mischa. "Did I do good, Daddy? Did I?" she asked anxiously.
"You were wonderful, milaya," Mischa told her, and she beamed.
The ceremony ended shortly afterwards, and the students served their family members cake and punch. Then we went home and got the kids ready for bed.
"Mommy?" I heard Clarity call as I walked out of the girls' bedroom.
"What is it, hon?" I walked back to her.
"Did I do good too?" she asked.
"Of course you did, sweetheart," I told her, pulling the sheet up to just below her chin. "I'm proud of you both."
She grinned. "Thanks, Mommy! I love you!"
"I love you, too." I kissed her forehead and then left the room.
For Sage's thirteenth birthday, he decided he wanted a party at the bowling alley. We invited our family members, and he invited his friends from school and Boy Scouts, so we had quite a large group. Kendra had completely recovered from her accident except for a slight limp due to one leg being shorter than the other.
The kids formed two teams and lined up to take turns bowling. When Kendra's turn came, she rolled a gutter ball, and all her team mates except Sage booed. The next ball she rolled went into the gutter as well.
"Kendra can't bowl!" Sage's friend Jayden taunted.
"That's because she's crippled!" another boy, Tyler, said in a singsong voice, and a group of nearby kids started laughing. Kendra burst into tears and limped away, and Sage slugged Tyler in the face. A fight broke out, and security had to separate the boys.
I ran to Kendra and tried to comfort her, but she pulled away from me.
"Call my Mom!" she sniffled. "I want to go home!"
"Of course," I said, and went to call Shelly. After that, I went over to where Sage, Jayden, and Tyler were still involved in a heated argument.
"You boys ought to be ashamed of yourselves," I scolded. "Bullying a disabled child is just the lowest thing you could ever do. I'm calling your parents right now and telling them to come pick you up, and you'll never be invited to another of Sage's parties again."
I was able to reach Jayden's father right away, but I couldn't get either of Tyler's parents for a long time so had to keep trying and trying. By now the party had pretty much broken up anyway, and most of the kids were calling their parents and asking to be picked up. Shelly arrived to get Kendra, her lips pressed together in a tight line of anger.
"I'm really sorry this happened," I told her, but she made no reply as she put her arm around her daughter and led her away. Sage watched them go, his face filled with despair.
"I'm really sorry your party was ruined," I told him as I gave him a hug.
"I hate Jayden and Tyler!" he exploded. "Now Kendra may never speak to me again!"
"I've got an idea," I told him. "Why don't we go shopping and buy her something really nice and take it to her tomorrow afternoon."
"You really think that would work?"
"I think it's worth a try."
I got my kids together and drove them home, where I found Mischa sitting in a recliner, watching television. He looked up as we entered the house.
"Party over already?"
"Jayden and Tyler were being mean to Kendra!" Sage told him.
He frowned. "What happened?"
"Kendra rolled two gutter balls, and some kids started making fun of her because of her limp," I explained.
Mischa's frown deepened. "That's terrible!"
"It sure is," I agreed. "Sage and I are planning to buy her a nice present and take it to her tomorrow to make her feel better."
"Sounds like a good idea," Mischa agreed.
After lunch the next day, Mischa watched the younger kids while I took Sage to WalMart. We found a computer game we thought Kendra might like, bought it, and went to her house. We got there to find Shelly finishing up the dishes while Kendra watched television. She looked up as we walked in.
"Kendra! Look what I got for you!" Sage held the computer game up.
Kendra looked confused. "But it isn't my birthday yet."
"I know," said Sage. "Mom and I felt bad because Jayden and Tyler were mean to you yesterday, and we wanted to make it up to you."
"Wow, thanks!" Kendra grinned as Sage handed the game to her.
"I hope you like it," he told her.
"I do! I've been wanting this game for a long time! Can you stay and play it with me?"
Sage looked at me, and I nodded. As the two of them settled in to play Kendra's new game together, I was glad I'd thought of buying it for her.