A Child’s Gifts, a Parent’s Pride

This past week, my darling son played the starring role of Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof for his middle school play. He did an amazing job, with the spoken word, singing, and overall stage presence. We couldn’t have been more proud of him. And he was incredibly proud of himself!

Sometimes, witnessing his day-to-day struggles and his overall lack of motivation, I wonder and worry about his future.

But when I see him do his thing on stage, expressing his natural gifts, I know in my bones that every little thing is gonna be alright.

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The magic of nature

We’re stuck in a rut. There, I’ve said it.

Our daily routine is pretty much just home, work/school, home, dinner, bed, with the occasional evening appointment. Weekends are a typical mix of getting things done around the house and errands. You could fairly say that we don’t get out much.

autumn-hike_Two weekends in October, however, we piled in the car and took the scenic route to and through Rocky Mountain National Park. I even talked the men-folk into going for a hike! This was no easy task, as Dear Husband (DH)  is on his feet all week, and darling son is an “indoor kind of guy” with a strong aversion to things that buzz.

The result?  Well, I can’t say that Dear Husband was thrilled, but he didn’t complain, and he ended up taking some nice photos, capturing the late autumn colors. And son? After about ten minutes of grumping, he was happily chattering away about this and that, and suggesting we check out what’s around the next curve. And I was in heaven, soaking up moments of complete and blissful silence, away from the cacophony of the city, out in the woods with no other souls but the two people I love most in this world. Yep, that’s heaven alright. =D

Living on the east side of town, with an endless list of things begging to be done, and beloveds that seemingly would be happy to never leave the house, it feels like it takes a herculean effort to get out of the house and up to the mountains, which in reality are only an hour away. (So close, yet so far!)

Yet the forested hills feed my soul, and there’s so much to explore and experience.

My mission for the next 12 months?

Climb out of the rut, move into action and live!  Maybe I’ll have to start out by begging, cajoling or bribing, but I have faith that we’ll eventually settle into a rhythm, and we’ll all look forward to those times away, enjoying the magic and Ctrl+Alt+Delete of nature. Wish us luck!

A letter of thanks

Our 5th grade year was incredibly difficult, as there was an administration change and complete culture shift at the school where we had previously been so happy. At the end of the year, I wrote but never sent this letter.

Dear Teachers and Staff, past and present,

This parent wishes to offer you my deepest gratitude for your service to our community, to our family, and especially, to our son.

Since we arrived at this school near the end of the 1st grade, many of you, from janitorial staff to front office staff, to support staff, teachers and beloved former administration, have demonstrated kindness and compassion, and a sincere desire to help our child succeed, to help him feel successful, and to help him know that he is valued for his unique spirit and character (as each child should be).

Many of you have taken the time to get to know him, and figure out what works and what doesn’t. You have weathered his meltdowns and celebrated his strengths and the great progress he has made through the years. Many of you have done your best to protect him during this very tumultuous year.

Our family is so grateful for all you have done and have tried to do. Although we have been battered and torn by the difficult changes this year, I just wanted you to know that our family remembers,  appreciates, and treasures all of the many kindnesses you have shown us across the years.

We’re grateful to have known you, and we hope you know that you have made a positive impact on at least one family.

Thank you for all you do every day.

I wish I had actually sent this letter, but I hope that someone who has been a such a hero in some family’s life reads this message and begins to understand the difference they have made.

And I hope a child or family reads it and is inspired to voice their thanks to the heroes in their own life.

Heroes

I don’t know about you, but our family has been through many struggles and heartaches, from the very early days as we first began to understand that our dear child was wired differently, continuing through the tumultuous journey of daycare and school.

It’s so easy sometimes to focus on what has been hard, what has gone wrong, and all the times we were not supported by the school system or the world. It would be easy to be bitter and hard-hearted, and to hold resentment against individuals or the system in general for trying to cram our child into a particular mold, or for punishing him for his reactions to situations over which he had no control, or for all the times he has been set up to fail, or when he has been made to feel broken and wrong.

Each and every time I start to slip into the abyss of victimhood, I am reminded of the many gifts that we have gained through this journey. Some are gifts of personal improvement and the many opportunities to practice patience and compassion.

Mostly, though, I am reminded of all of the beautiful people who have risen up like sweet flowers springing from the manure. Every step along the way, there have been heroes who have come forth to lend a helping hand, or a compassionate word, those who have taken the time to understand, value, support and protect our amazing child.

From the elementary school principal who welcomed us with open arms and helped us believe that it was all going to be okay, to teachers, secretaries, social workers, school psychologists and special ed teachers… Looking back, I can see how blessed we have been, and I am brought to tears in the remembering.

If you can relate to this message, I’d love for you to post a reply and tell me about some of the heroes you’ve encountered along your own journey.

Endings and Beginnings

As the year comes to a close, it’s natural to reflect on the year past, and to begin dreaming of and planning for the year upcoming.

With visions of Christmas still dancing in my head, I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions. Our family does not have a strong tradition around the New Year, and so we’re starting a new one!

On New Year’s Eve, we’ll each write down some things from 2015 that we’re happy to say goodbye to, such as health, job, or school challenges. We’ll give thanks for the experiences and for the lessons learned, and then we’ll set those pages on fire.

From the flames of the past, we’ll each light a candle to illuminate the future.

Candles

With candles glowing brightly, we’ll celebrate our successes from 2015, and share with each other the good things from 2015 that we’d like to continue into the new year — people, feelings and experiences that we want more of. We’ll set an intention for new and wonderful experiences that we’d  like to have. Maybe we’ll even each choose a theme for the New Year, like gratitude, ease or courage. (Thanks, Phyllis Ginsberg, for that inspiration!)

That’s how I picture it anyway. Maybe we’ll just burn the house down! But then again, maybe some unexpected magic will come out of this new tradition…

Your Turn

In the comments below, I’d love to hear how your family ushers in the New Year. What is your tradition? What are you grateful for from 2015? What are you looking forward to in 2016 for your exceptional child, yourself or your family?