Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Flipside of Grateful

This will be pretty embarrassing and telling, so where do I begin?

Last week, I received a call from school.

No, not THAT kind of call!  His pants were clean, he was happy, and things were just as they should be.  Honestly, that last thing prompted the call.  We've been sailing rough waters in the house lately.  It seems like since Christmas break or so, we've lost.

Everything seemed to cause a meltdown.  Get up, meet him in the bathroom, and the first thing out of his mouth is a defiant, loud, "NO SCHOOL".  Even answered in calmer tones, the truth wasn't so much denied but somewhat, although inwardly directed, violently shoved away.  Enter the hitting, the screaming, the crying.  Even the mention that he should do something prompted this response.

In the past, getting back to school was the answer.  He was tired of the wild card that can be home.  When you thrive on routine, having a four year old brother and a three year old sister can get a bit unnerving.  Add to that the random things mom and dad decide we think would be fun, crazy amounts of celebrations and routine changes, and there you have it.  The perfect storm.

But the going back to school wasn't helping.  For about three weeks or more, the best term I can use is "hairy."  Lots of redoing how they and we did things, trying to figure out a way to help him cope.  They've had some success, so the resource teacher called to see if I could meet her to talk about how great he's done this week, and to share what she's been doing that she thinks could translate to home.

In the process, I'm learning that it's important that I cope, too.  Let's back up a bit.

These pictures were all taken on Ryan's first day of school.  While I was in the hospital having his brother, a week after Ryan turned three, the school diagnostician called and invited Ryan to summer school.  Isn't he tiny?!  

What you can't see is the hormonal, post-op mess taking the pictures.  I hobbled around in my not-even-a-week post-op, just had a baby stupor, trying desperately to make this the first day of school I always dreamed our kids would have.  Pictures and being accompanied by the whole family were the best I could do.  

Honestly, I didn't hope much would change.  I mean yes, I was grateful for him to have the opportunity.  Yes, I was thankful that we had a district that cared to start him early.  But to tell the truth, I sat and held Richie and cried.  I wanted so badly to be able to help him myself.  

When Eric picked Ryan up that first day of ESY (extended school year is what they call it here), he didn't say much.  Didn't look at me.  Just the usual Ryan.  Then my mother put him in his booster, and I asked what he'd like for lunch.  

He jabbered!!!!!  He said something unintelligible, but he TRIED TO SPEAK!!!!!!

We were elated, but at the same time, there was a part of me that hurt.  I couldn't do it.  I couldn't reach him all by myself.  In just three short hours, strangers had inspired him to try to speak when I couldn't get him to point to a picture of what he wanted. 

Ever since, that same feeling rises when someone can help him do something that I can't.  I know it might be weird to admit to something that sounds so, well... ungrateful... but it's the truth.  I am thankful for and supportive of his teachers, therapists, aids, and everyone who works with and for him.  I jump up and down at his achievements. Eric and I do our best to implement what happens at school at home, and wherever we go, but to tell the truth, it's sometimes still hard to accept that someone else can get through to and figure out my child better than I can at times.  

Somewhere in all this lies one of the secret lessons I've learned during my stay in autism land.  Maybe more than one.  I do know that I am grateful for every one of the things that has been taught to him... and us... by the myriad of therapists and teachers we've had over the years.  While I'm grateful for all those lessons, I'm secretly even more thankful for the experiences that sanded the chip off my shoulder.  

The chip that said, "Mama ALWAYS knows best."  Yeah, that's not always true.  Sometimes this mama needs to have a bit more open mind about how to do things.  

The chip that didn't want to listen when people told me it wasn't my fault.  After all, he was with me every day, and in my mind, his breakthrough the first day of summer school was further proof that I was on the wall in the terrible mothers' hall of shame.  I may not be the world's best, and I surely make mistakes, but I'm not the worst mother in the world. 

The prideful block that I (hopefully secretly) wore that said, "I stay home with my child, and he will therefore be above average at everything he attempts, and will walk into preschool prepared to teach the teacher."  Oh, what a wicked thought! 

And now the one that I'm still learning.  Ready?  It's earth-shattering!  It's changed and continues to change the way I look at everything from church involvement to volunteer work to my housework to Christ's love for me.  

I'm human.  

That's all.  Incapable of doing everything, fallible, tired, flighty, and weak-minded.  In need of grace.  In desperate need of mercy and love and forgiveness.  I mean, who is rejoicing at her son's accomplishments and secretly wishing it could have been her who thought of the key?  

Thanks be to God for grace and mercy, and the revealing of the meaning of these gradually... for if I had to take it all in at once, I would surely crumble.  

And thanks to the Lord for all you teachers, therapists, and aids out there who have worked so hard for our baby boy.  

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