Yesterday I told you about how awesome Wednesday was. Indeed, it was awesome! But you only heard about part of the awesomeness.
Wednesday evening was the closing ceremony for the AWANA's program for our kids. Don't know what in the world I'm talking about? Click here. Ryan was in Puggles in Fairfield, and started Cubbies when we moved here. Richie just started Cubbies this year, and Ryan's now in Sparks.
Well, I say Ryan's in Sparks. That's the level for his age, and he wears the vest. He has a wonderful lady who stepped up and asked to hold his hand through this, and she does a great job! Ryan kinda survived in Cubbies, where he stayed for three years simply because he was in PPCD, not kindergarten. The leaders are awesome people, who are also band parents. Ah, small towns.
So going to the AWANA's end of the year program was inevitable. Ryan and Richie were both members of Sparks and Cubbies, respectively. Soon as we found the sanctuary, Ryan busted through and ran straight to the back giggling. Here we go.
Once Richie was shuttled off to sit with his Cubbies class, the rodeo began.
Part of the program is singing through some of the things the kids sing every week, saying pledges, all that. Soon as the singing ended, my sweet little princess with braids flanking her head spouted off, "That was FUN!"
Ryan wiggled. He flopped. He giggled. I don't think he sat still for two consecutive minutes. Not kidding! But he didn't melt down. Situations like this are like bronc riding... except the horse rides you instead of the other way around. It's interesting.
In between defending my face from Ryan's head... then feet... then head again, I saw my precious, curly-headed blonde boy stand obediently still with his class on stage. He sang the Cubbies song with his friends, and there came tears. My baby boy singing. Then he received his book award... this means he finished his book, memorizing each scripture and (usually with a degree of coaching) reciting it for one of the workers. Richie has loved every minute of Cubbies.
Ryan's turn came. Of course, he wasn't with his class... he was with me. He didn't slow down the tweaky long enough to shuttle him over there, and I figured he was better off with me anyway... or at least the program was. When we heard his name, I got up, and he was more than happy to giggly-wiggly follow. I thought he might actually accept his certificate! Then he bolted straight past his head leader (thankfully a dear woman who I know understands) and to the drum set. Oh gee.
We were so proud of our boys. Richie for finishing his book, and Ryan for making it through the program without having to leave.
At home, it hit me again.
The difference between Ryan and our two littles, developmentally, is somewhat like two ships. They start from the same port, side by side, but the rudders are set to east and west, opposite one another.
See, when Ryan was in Cubbies as a three year old, it was hard to tell much of a difference between he and the other kids. The next year it was a bit more obvious. The next year, we wound up pulling him out just because he was too big and too hard to handle. His peers are memorizing their verses, doing their work, and are now capable of keeping up with their books and are capable of the intrinsic motivation required to desire to finish a book. Ryan paints with watercolors, tracing each letter of the verse for the week. Sometimes he'll say it, sometimes no. More likely no. He's more interested in when he can get to the playground and SWING.
The ships, at the beginning, are right there together. The rudders are set to different courses, but you can't really tell unless you're on the ship, helping drive. But now, the ships of Ryan's and his peers' lives are farther down the course... and the gap is wider. It's visible. It's glaring at times.
And while the same pain for Ryan's struggles remains, I am now able to see his smile and giggles as a good thing, not just an interruption during a quiet time. I am able to be proud of one child for his accomplishments as a typically-abled child, and still be proud of my special-needs child for his accomplishments, realizing that one does not take away from the other.
While it's not always easy to be the bridge from one ship to the other, like when I had to explain that we couldn't stay for snow cones and the church playground because Ryan was already melting down, I'm better able to be comfortable with my decision. I'm better able to hug Richie and tell him I'm proud, and promise that we'll celebrate our own way in the backyard when we get home.
I'm so proud of my kids, and thankful not only for their accomplishments and growth, but for their role in my growth as a person, too. And I'm inexplicably grateful for the things they taught me that I'd never have learned without them. See, as the ships spread, my heart grows between them.
Thanks be to God for His providence, grace, mercy, and love.