Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Addressing Victories

Totally not your traditional Valentine's Day post.  And since Ryan's party is tomorrow, I'll be baking, and between that and trying to look like a human being for once when my husband gets home, I'm pre-writing this puppy.

Well, all that and I just don't want to forget.

At the beginning of the school year, we were doing well to stay still.  I couldn't get him to sit still and practice writing with me, and seemed to be doing more harm than good.  It was like pulling teeth.  We still worked on reading, and I'd have him write a little something every now and again, and we work on his spelling list, but seriously.  It wasn't cool.  Totally wasn't cool.  And if you follow us, you know that we were concerned from last spring about where he'd wind up this year and how it would go, and with good reason.  We'd just received a diagnosis and we were scared.  Last spring, we started the long process of stripping away the preconceived ideas we had about a lot of things in the wake of that reality. This is a daily, sometimes minute by minute process.

But every now and again, and usually when we need it most, we see the light.  We see the warm, comforting glow of progress.  We saw it first on the day he came home from his first day in special programs summer school.  With only three words and no real communicative language at all, he tried to tell me something.  Gibberish, but he tried.

At the beginning of the year, I was just praying he'd stay in kindergarten.  Please, Lord.  Help him along.  We continued with what we started last spring at Baylor, now two days a week.  We lost our aid... but then, shockingly, we began to see that as being like the beginning of Forrest Gump.  The part at the beginning, you know, where Forrest starts running *snort* and all of a sudden, the braces fly off.  He's too strong for them.  He's outgrown them.  No one knew it, but he didn't need them anymore.

Now please understand, we're not done.  He still needs someone to direct him, usually physically, away from the van and to the door of the school.  Left to his own, he will stim on the van wheels and I'll not be able to pull away without running over him.  I've seen it.  He still needs assistance in music, and has a great aid doing a curriculum with him in the motor lab instead of PE because of the crowd, busy-ness, loudness of the whole thing.

We may still have a lot to work on, but he has come so far.  We sat tonight, after dinner, and Eric started him on writing the names on his Cars valentines.  His teacher specifically asked that the kids do it themselves, so there you go.  Being the compliant folks we are, we had to try.  I had been dreading this.  I actually told Eric that I'd rather write a ten-page research paper than do this.  That's how much I thought he was going to fight.

Instead, I drew a black line through the middle of each valentine, and, with one of us reading the letters to him, he wrote each name.  I tried to throw out one card that he'd messed up, and he about lost it.  I have to admit, I had to fight the urge to wrest it away, but I knew that would throw the whole deal.  He doesn't care that it's ruined to us.  He thinks each one is special.  He drops a cracker in the middle of a store or the street, he loses it.  You can offer to buy him a whole new box and it doesn't matter.  He has to have THAT ONE.  He dropped a sticker in church yesterday and fell apart pretty quickly... and thankfully I've learned to see when all is about to be lost... so we went to the foyer and chilled a bit, then came back, and immediately he sank to the floor and under the chair in the middle of the sermon to get his sticker.  I think it has something to do with finishing everything.  Yep, his obsession with finishing everything probably has something to do with that.

As the list of names shrank... and shrank... I started to cry.  Every time he finished, I nearly jumped out of the chair.  Then, at the end, he insisted on writing a card for "Boys" and "Girls" because obviously he was supposed to... they were, after all, at the top of each column.  When he'd finished, he exclaimed "Good job!"

I know it was just a stack of valentine cards, and that tonight, kids all over America are scrawling their friends' names on carefully chosen cards of their choice.  And no, he didn't pick his cards.  I know what he likes, so he got Cars.  And he wouldn't have complained if I hadn't made him do his cards.  It is such a normal thing.  But it's not.  Not for Ryan.  For us, it's huge.

And I can't help but feel like that messed up card... that dropped, dirty cracker... the lost sticker.  On my own I am unable to do anything, including help my boy.  On the days when I look around to see the kids screaming "MINE", toys all over the place, the house in desperate need of help, projects half finished, and my inadequacies seem to scream even louder than the kids (or should I say I can hear them over my self hollering at the kids... yeah... *hangs head*), the only thing that can possibly give me the attitude adjustment I need is a heart adjustment.  A second to sigh, lift my broken, ugly, tired heart, and say "Father, please help me.  I've made a mess again."

And I don't care how crazy I sound.  He does.  He fixes the 'tude.  Not that I walk away all hearts and flowers, but at the very least I'm able to somewhat politely function.

So for Valentine's Day, Single Awareness Day, Hallmark Support Day, whatever you want to call it and for whatever your degree of cynicism applied to the holiday, here's the best card-filler I've seen.  These valentines warm my heart and calm my soul... and I hope they do yours too.

 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life."  ~John 3:16

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God." ~James 1:19

"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will" ~Ephesians 1:11

And the one that warmed my heart and made me want to jump for joy this week in church...

"True faith is not only a sure knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us by His Word, but also a firm confidence which the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ's merits."  ~Heidelberg Catechism, No. 21

Through it all, the ups, the downs, the sock-folding in between, I will fail.  What a joy, what a relief to know it's not about me, and it certainly isn't about what I can do to earn peace.  From before the diagnosis, to after, to now, I have made immeasurable mistakes.  I have had moments I'd not want to tell you about.  I've messed up the routine.  I've been angry instead of encouraging.  I've lost my patience.  but still... still, Ryan has come so far.  I'm so proud of him, so happy for him, and so grateful, more every day, for Him.  Every day, I'm more grateful for and resting more in who God is, and who I am and am not.  And it. is. awesome.  

And to my earthly, wonderful, amazingly forgiving and loving husband, I love you from the depths of my heart to the heights of the heavens, Eric.  Happy Valentine's Day. 

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