Driving home last night, I was talking with one of Catherine’s aids for school. You can imagine this has been a tough few weeks as we still do not have things sorted out for her placement. We’ve hired private aids to go to school with her at Delrey, where we’re footing the bill. So, as I’m talking with her aid, she begins to tell me about some ideas she’s had.
“You know, I was thinking about how she’s not been using the switches much this week, and I wonder if it’s a reward thing. She used them so much for the lollipop, but I don’t want her to only work for a lollipop. So, I’ve been trying to think of other ideas for rewards for her. I talked with [her old teacher from Maryland School for the Blind] who told me she likes wind in her face. I’m thinking maybe I could get a little fan and blow it when she touches the switch. I also raided the closet to make textured items to represent each kid in Catherine’s class until you can get their names done in Braille. I want her to be able to participate more and choose who she gets to say, ‘Hi,’ to each morning in circle.”
Wow! I nearly had to pull over I was so moved by her genuine attempt to connect with Catherine and draw Catherine into a larger circle of participation. She’s never been a teacher in a classroom. She’s getting her Master’s in Early Childhood Special Education, true. But she doesn’t have “20 years of expertise” from which to draw. She’s just thinking and caring and trying to apply the educational theories she’s learning at Loyola.
I’ll take it!
I’ll take any person like that with no experience vs. a history of experience that seems only to know “what works best” – yet doesn’t – any chance I get. And that got me thinking about the amazing people in Catherine’s life who genuinely try to help because they genuinely care. While we’ve been fighting this battle with the county, I’ve grown very discouraged. I’ve had to look deliberately for places to hope. I’ve had to list things actively that comfort me, so I can wrap up in those thoughts and prepare to battle once more. The “Amazing People” are usually on that list. They provide energy to me to keep going. They share ideas when I think we’re at the end. They point out things they’ve seen when I doubt what I’m seeing. They give me information both on and off the record that helps us make good choices. They stand tall in my mind and battle the people I call the “hope killers.”
I’ve tried to turn to God in this battle to make sure we’re on the right path. I’ve noticed a pattern. A hope killer gets in the way and causes me to doubt our mission. I get angry, scared and tired. I remember God is bigger than the hope killers and I ask him for help. Soon after, I get to talk to one of the Amazing People. And now that I recognize this pattern, I realize that God really is with us. He wouldn’t send the Amazing People if not. I’d just run into hope killers over and over again without any respite from Amazing People. So, as we work to get Catherine what she needs educationally, I watch for the Amazing People to emerge. They’re usually the quiet ones. They’re usually the ones that care deeply and think it through and offer something new, and helpful and hopeful. As I told Catherine’s aid last night, they are our little angels guiding the way.
God bless the Amazing People. And may all you hope killers please go away.