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.



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.


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?