Sometimes, It Is the Little Things

With two CSE meetings and therapy, I wasn’t expecting much from today. While waiting with GB for the bus this morning, I noticed a blue sky, with sunshine and light cotton candy clouds. The air was cool, but not cold. The silence before Hope and Joe came down was soothing.

Hope’s CSE didn’t go very well. I let The Dad run it and only contributed data on medication. Mary Poppins was there and the SPOA worker was there. Mary Poppins started her unicorns and rainbow crap and I worked on my breathing. I looked up and Mrs VY Teacher caught my eye and mouthed “Hope has her number”. None of what I wanted was approved, but I knew before the meeting that it wouldn’t happen unless I got involved. I didn’t.

GB’s CSE meeting was 30 minutes later and five miles away. It was a different world. I did not let Mary Poppins come and when the chairperson looked at Joe and I and asked who was running this meeting, I said I was. GB is doing well. They approved 45 minutes a day with the reading specialist, the OT had a sensory diet all set up. GB had shared with all of them how difficult it was living with Hope and the therapist suggested adding another weekly counseling session to her program. Homework was straightened out, as were testing modifications. GB is doing well and everybody was delighted.

I went to EMDR right after GB’s meeting.  It wasn’t fun, but it seemed to go quickly. MK wanted to start Halloween early. I went to the dollar store with her to add a little to our decorations and GB helped MK put them up. Hope and Mali helped MK make our first Halloween  dessert of the year. The Dad took GB to gymnastics and the open house at her school tonight.

The sun is setting and everything is quiet. It is still warm enough to sit on the deck with a cup of hot tea. Sometimes it is the little things.


I have had children in my house for over thirty years. By society’s judgement, each child was broken in some way. I never questioned that assumption. After all, I was very busy meeting the needs of these children and fighting schools, social groups, and neighbors, trying to make a place for them. When society’s opinion was thrust into my consciousness, I would look at my kids and see why they were considered broken and then move on. There was 9 year old Ralph, who sat and talked to my car’s headlights while he snacked on my flowers. There was 14 year old Vernon, who in anger set more than 30 fires in his home town before he came to me. There was a 5 year old who didn’t know what a broom was and hadn’t ever heard the word no. I was only mildly surprised when he tried to beat up his soccer team… the whole  team. I had children with TBI, schizophrenia,and trauma histories that were beyond anything I could comprehend. Yet these kids went to regular schools and were expected to meet ordinary expectations. It was inevitable that these children, and my others, were considered broken. Yet, even in the beginning, I was aware that “broken” was only part of it.

My kids made me laugh, could be kind, and were frequently creative. They found joy in the ordinary and let me come along for the ride. They had compassion for those weaker or more disadvantaged. Everyday traditions could make their eyes shine. This was my life for a long time. I stopped taking in kids in 2002. My kids were older, had graduated from high school and I enjoyed a year of a social life with friends whose children were also more grown up than not.

GB is my granddaughter. She went to the NICU directly from the birthing room. I took custody of her at two months and her parents were gone before she turned six months. GB didn’t smile at all and missed her  early milestones. She  started EI at seven months. I didn’t know what was wrong, although I knew there was a problem. Like all my earlier kids, society considered GB broken. But I was different, I had changed. At 11 months, I found out she was FAS. By the time she was four, I knew she was bipolar. At seven and a half, autistic was added. Each diagnosis felt like I had been blindsided. Intellectually, I understood them and knew they were right. Emotionally, I was equally sure there was nothing broken about this child.

It has taken a year of contemplation to come to term with these incompatible ideas. GB is not neuro-typical. She is also not broken. She is exactly what God made her to be. God knows her gifts and her challenges and has given me the honor of being her mom. I love her smile. I love watching her dance as she is carried away by the beat of music.I share her joy as her garden blooms with color.  I enjoy the pride she has in her cartwheels, in her ability to swim, and the food she cooks for us. I know it can take GB several minutes to be able to verbally express a thought. I see that she is able to relax and share real communication with only the few she trusts. I know that I have to check for minefields before I put her in any new situation. I am responsible for making sure she gets enough sleep and that she eats when she needs to. She can’t tell me what hurts or why she can’t cope. It is part of who she is.

GB is not broken. She is exactly the person God made her to be. She is my gift from Him.

I Can Learn

Goals are illusive things, especially when talking about a special needs child. They change over time. They change as you grow and redefine what is important. They change as your child’s abilities and deficits become more apparent.

I read an interesting post over at Fighting Monsters with Rubber Swords this past weekend. The author talks about his assumption that the best goal for his daughter would be to succeed in the NT world. His daughter is now eleven and it occurred to him that maybe he was setting her up for failure.

With my oldest two, from the beginning, my mindset was they could do anything they put their minds to. I assumed they would graduate with a regular diploma. I assumed they would compete in the NT world. Both J and MK did. They earned regular high school diplomas and went out to tackle the working world. It was a success as far as them  meeting my goals. Ultimately, though, for J and MK as people, the cost may have been too high. J doesn’t remember the thrill of succeeding- he remembers the years of being the stupid kid, the feeling of not being able to connect with NT kids. MK needs support, but is not eligible for services because I insisted she compete with everyone else and succeed. They came so close, but maybe I, like Schuyler’s Dad fears,  just set them up for failure. It never even crossed my mind at the time.

When we first started on our journey with GB, my goal was for her to attend kindergarten in our neighborhood school. She did that. As far as the world was concerned, it was a rousing success. From GB’s viewpoint, not so much. She remembers being very unhappy and dreading school. In the last two years, I have done a lot of reevaluating. Part of it was looking at my oldest two and what they need to succeed and be happy. Part of it was getting accurate information on what GB’s deficits are and what she can realistically can handle. Most of it is realizing that God has a purpose for GB and my job is to help her fulfill God’s purpose for her life, not mine.

When I look back on how I made decisions for my children, with the best of intentions, I cringe at my arrogance. What was done, was done. However, I still have the opportunity to support GB in fulfilling God’s plan for her and will do my best. She is not NT and never will be.

I don’t have to continue making the same mistakes.

GB is Finally Finalized! (Thankful November, Day 23)

It is Legal!

GB and the stuff the judge gave her

GB and her godfather

Today I am thankful because God is faithful and GB’s Adoption  has been finalized in His time, although in my time it took 7 years too long. Thank you to everybody who has supported me while I adjusted to God’s time. Maybe I developed some patience.  I can breathe again!

GB Has a Date! Thankful November

I posted on the other blog a little while ago. I was feeling pretty down and did not know how to find the energy to ask for God’s  help. After I posted, I just laid quietly… waiting. After a while, I was calm and my mind was still. I told God I was afraid there was nothing left… The phone rang. It was my lawyer. He had a date. GB will be finalized Tuesday, November 23, 2010, at 9 o’clock in the morning.

Today I am thankful for God, who carries you when you feel like you can’t take another step.

Thankful November, Day 4

Today I am thankful for my gifts from God, my children. MK has been great since her rage 2 months ago. Hope woke up with a smile and hug- much better than yesterday 🙂  GB woke up looking forward to going to school AGAIN (Thank you, Mr. Teacher). D remembered to take out the garbage last night. J is still working at the same job, finishing up his 5th year. Every child is a gift from God. Sometimes I forget that.

Blessing in Disguise

We went to church today. I thought of staying home, as I was very sore from being beat up by Hope, but church is so ingrained into family life, that I felt it was part of keeping the kids on a normal routine. An hour into the service, I had just concluded going was a mistake and was gathering stuff up, getting ready to leave. One of the elderly ladies blacked out, The Dad ran to take care of her, dropping Hope on me. Hope flipped out. I took her out of the sanctuary and let her rage it out. I lightly stroked her arm, which changed her screams from “I want Daddy” to “Your hurting me! Stop!”. By the time she had calmed down, GB was leaving with MK, Booboo, and the baby, the ambulance was there and the Dad was going to the hospital with the elderly lady.

I took Hope home, mentally cataloging the new bruises. We always pass an ice cream place and I decided I could use some and also bought some for Hope. I thought of the long hours ahead and sighed. We got home to an empty house and that is when I realized the blessing. Hope and I had never been alone together, not once, not ever. She was stuck dealing with me. We did our attachment work with chocolate, we played games, we talked about the differences between her old family and this family, and we cuddled. Every once in a while, I would tell her it was cuddle time, take her on my lap, and tell her she had to stay there until she relaxed and let me snuggle her. And we succeeded every time, at least for a minute or two. I made more progress in that three hours then I had made  to date. The elderly lady was admitted to the hospital and the Dad just got in. Some blessings are disguised as burdens. You have to take up the burdens to get the blessings.