If you ask a special needs parent what the single most challenging aspect of life is, the overwhelming majority will respond with “Uhhhhhggggg…SCHOOL.” We say this with lowered shoulders and an exaggerated exhale. There are more reasons for this response than I can possibly muster the energy to summarize. Our kiddos are complicated humans and when mixed with 25ish other humans with individual needs, gifts, personalities and challenges, what you get is a consistent need for advocacy and intervention. This is true with the most supportive teams and the most challenging teams. Doesn’t matter. After 6 years of walking through public elementary school, we have reflections that wouldn’t have been possible without 6 years of living through it. Our reflections have evolved and morphed and twisted and shattered and have finally landed on calm waters. Peaceful waters.
Dude “graduated” last week. I put that in quotes because it was really just him sitting on stage with his classmates, loud yawning and picking his schnoz 6 times too many. It was NOT the emotional experience I had come to expect. In fact, my emotions stayed shockingly in check through the entire process of leaving our educational home away from home. This has caused me to evaluate why. We’ve been through the ringer emotionally the past 6 years, so the complete peace and closure comes as a surprise.
Here’s what I’ve come to. Our family was placed at PB Elementary with intention. God knew what He was doing 6 years ago. He knew that we would walk through multiple diagnosis processes as we attempted to figure out who our son was and how he was shaped to walk this earth. He knew I would search the ends of the Denver Metro area for a “better fit” and that the team at PB Elementary would walk through that with us, for us and behind us. He knew they would LOVE our child with abandon and listen to me along the way. He knew I would challenge them in unreasonable and reasonable ways and that I would grow through those experiences. They would too. He knew that out of fear for our son’s future I would get the district involved and use a mostly respectful heavy hand throughout our journey. And He knew the district would respond seamlessly with grace. He knew our teachers would evolve in their journey to understand our son. They would do right by him a majority of the time and when they didn’t, we would make it right together. Even if that was years down the road. He knew I would learn to assume positive intentions and to look at our situation through their lens. Most of all, He knew I would learn to accept that we are ALL just humans who are doing the best we know how to do. And there will be days when we don’t do the best we know how to do – because we’re humans. And in the long run, we’ll walk away respecting each other, learning from each other, understanding each other, and relying on each other as a result of 6 years of challenging and life giving experiences. And most of all, our complicated son, who became a household name around that school, would graduate with a joyful spirit, an educated mind, and the same breathtakingly intricate heart he owned when he first walked into their doors. And when I think back to my original messaging in our earliest meetings, THAT was our goal.
I’m thankful to our PB Elementary tribe for journeying with us and our little learner. SO much learning was had – even if a big chunk of that was by us adults along the way. God knew what He was doing and I’m grateful we had the blessing to walk your halls, sit in your chairs, sign all your papers, use your Kleenex, and finally exit your doors. We left with a grateful heart and complete peace. It was six years well done. And because of all of that, we’re ready to take on the next six.