Wow. You guys are humbling. Thank you for your encouragement. Funny how things never happen the way you think they will. I figured this would be where most would check out for a few weeks. So thank you, for all that you said. It really really touched and surprised me. :-)
And how about Friday night of workshop?.. AIM reunion at our house after the evening speaker? I'll provide a big room and refreshments. Spread the word. :-)
Continuing the journey....
So within about 6 months, we learned that not only regular schools, but preschools and daycares weren’t always geared towards kids who “think” like Eli did, either.
He did okay with some things. But he wouldn’t finger paint. (Or do anything messy.) This never changed until we met his present teacher,Cindy.
I can remember one day at preschool he was in trouble because he refused to participate in a class activity that involved getting height and weight, and he didn’t want to step on the scale. He threw a fit. He appeared obstinate – even at 3, over ridiculous things. ( I later learned he was scared of the blinking red numbers on the scale.) Incident after incident left us confused about what was going on in his mind and why he would be so difficult. Desires to want to parent better so he wouldn’t be in trouble all the time just exasperated the process, b/c we didn’t understand what motivated the behavior in the first place. Counseling, therapy, testing…. Countless appointments and no real certain answers. As a few more years went by, his struggles got worse, adding aggression to others into the mix, and by age five he began to struggle with depression. He was smart and sensitive enough to know he wanted to be accepted, and yet struggled with enough issues that he recognized he was always in trouble and wasn’t accepted, by friends or teachers for the most part.
I can remember Eli coming home and sharing that he really would rather just go to heaven than be alive. I loved that he loved Heaven. I hated that at five he already hated life. That was the hardest year, so far. Because I couldn’t fix it.
On the flip side, teaching for a year blessed me with sympathy for teachers. It is difficult to have kids with special needs in a classroom of 15 or 20. And even harder when you or the parents aren’t even sure what you’re dealing with. Behavior just keeps you from teaching regardless of why. Your not a therapist, or a doctor. And it’s easy to wonder if the parents are being parents. I keep that year in mind often.
We began Kindergarten, transferring into a school across town. This was an amazing story of God – because we prayed about this, and it was the last school on my list of choices….but God had lined us up exactly where we needed to be. I just didn’t know why, yet.
Up until that point, I didn’t tell teachers at first that there was a problem with Eli. Mostly, because I didn’t know what the problem was. I kept thinking “Maybe they won’t notice this year….”. I genuinely hoped that.
But, I gave that up for kindergarten. When we went to meet his teacher, I took a letter and handed it off at the last minute before we left. I was scared. And embarrassed. I didn’t know what she would think. And I was depressed before we even started the year. But I knew I had to tell her the year would be difficult. I wanted to let her know the little I knew in hopes of helping him some. I hoped, but wasn’t sure she would care. It wasn't the start I had always imagined.
We walked out of the room after meeting her before school began and made it halfway down the hall. Suddenly his teacher came back out the door, holding the open letter. I don’t know how she’d already read it, honestly. But she stopped us. And she told me that she’d written letters like that herself for years on behalf of her own son, who struggled with similar issues. She had taught special need students for years, and began naming some things she thought we could try to start with. And I can’t remember what else she said after that, because at that moment I was too overwhelmed in the realization of why God had us walk through that door to meet her. And I hugged her. Well, in my memory, I embraced that woman, and I remember walking away hoping that display of emotion wasn’t too overwhelming. But I had hope again. That God had a plan. That He hadn’t walked away. I’d be dishonest if I didn’t admit my days of not being sure about that. But in that moment, I stood humbled and repentant and thrilled and floored.
And so began a relationship that would turn Eli’s world around in this area. The next two years would be a whirlwind of progress and education. And friendship. And hope.
God is good. He can move people all over the globe at just the right time. And one person, in the right place at the right time, really can make a difference in the lives of many....