Teenagers…just the word can scare any parent of a child under the age of 8 into a life of solitude on an island or into a cave…after that it becomes an impending reality…the tween years…and then it happens! You are living with a teenager…no chubby cheeked toddler running around, not much snuggle time, and way worse smells than a dirty diaper….yes, it is possible…and if you have not lived with a teenager yet, start stocking up on the Lysol.
Anyway, before I became a professional photographer, I worked with and taught individuals with special needs…for over 15 years! It was my love, my passion and my joy. It was also hard and challenging. As my family started to grow and, well life changed, I ended my teaching career.
I'm sure you have heard stories from teachers about students they worked with that held a special place in their heart. This is about one such student of mine.
I had the honor teaching a girl named Ali. I worked with her since she was in kindergarden. 6 years. That's a long time to be in someones life everyday. I've been through a lot with her. Ali and her family taught me so much more than I could have possibly imagined about love, strength, endurance, and the struggles facing families of individuals with special needs. It's an endless list.
As Ali's teacher during her elementary school years, as with many of the children I've worked with, I listened to their families express fear of the tween and teen years…for many of the same reasons all parents fear them but with the added challenges they face having a child with special needs. It's another endless list.
Well, one of Ali's moms biggest fears was met one year ago…Ali's 13th birthday. Oh the horror…living with a teenager. Off to an island or life in a cave for Ali's mom? NOPE…not this mom…facing her fears head on she scheduled a photo session for just Ali for her 14th birthday...To celebrate this age... Ali's images were captured for her and her mom to see and treasure…and maybe serve as a reminder of the beauty that exists in these girls even during those tumultuous teen moments as they spin out of childhood, but not quite adults yet…that "somewhere in between."
I am so pleased with the results…and I cannot describe what I felt photographing her. I've tried to process it but all I can come up with to identify it is one of those "full circle" type moments…kind of like,'Here I am, in a whole new career and this amazing young lady is in front of me again…allowing me into her life to witness her development into adulthood?' What a gift.