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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Luck and Joy

Janey's annual IEP was last week.  For some reason, I was feeling edgy about it.  I don't know why.  It's about the 30th IEP I've been to as a parent, and there wasn't any big issue I needed to address. 

When the meeting was over, I realized what I think had been getting me worked up.  It was the feeling that somehow I SHOULD have something big to insist on or ask for.  And I didn't.  We left the meeting extremely pleased with all we had heard.  We are so lucky.  Everyone there is truly on Janey's team, not just in name but in reality.  They love Janey.  They get a kick out of her.  They see her as an interesting and valued person.  And that is what I've always wanted in those who worked with my children, and it's what I've almost always gotten.

A joyful reunion
One great piece of news from the meeting is that Janey's teacher will have her again next year.  7th and 8th grade at her school works that way, I found out.  I adore Janey's teacher.  She is absolutely wonderful.  I loved hearing her stories about Janey---stories that showed she knows how to encourage Janey to do her best while still respecting her for who she is.  The OT at the meeting was terrific too.  One thing she said that really stuck with me was that she laughs 10 times during a session with Janey.  I love that attitude.  Janey can truly be a lot of fun to be with, if you get her, and the people at her school get her.

It was a very nice weekend last weekend.  Freddy was home all last week from college.  Then, Friday night, as Tony was making dinner, I heard him say "You aren't going to believe this!  I can't believe this!"  I could tell by the sound of his voice that something very unusual had happened.  He sounded shocked---almost scared.  I jumped up and saw, coming through our door, my older son William!  He had flown in from Chicago, where he's a grad student at the University of Chicago, as a total surprise!  He wanted to give us a shock, and he did!  He was here from Friday to Monday, and having all three kids in the house for the weekend---well, that was wonderful.

That night, we ordered takeout, and were all eating it together in the living room.  It struck me something seemed different, a little off.  And then I realized what it was---Janey was just sitting and eating and being part of the crowd.  She wasn't crying, she wasn't making demands, she wasn't needing extra attention.  We were just chowing down as a family like we love to do.  It was one of the first times I remember us all being together in a regular type family activity where she didn't stand out at all.

I wonder often---if someone was viewing us from outside, how would they see things?  I know, in reality, there are still many, many times in an average weekend that Janey gets very upset.  There are almost always times when she screams, or bites her arm, or demands a car ride RIGHT NOW, or so on.  When I look back on a weekend, though, those times sort of get edited out now.  I think we can do that because unlike in the past, they don't last for long.  She gets upset, we deal with it one way or another, she settles down and it's fine.  It's a combination of things.  We learn more all the time about how to best help her, and she learns more all the time about us---that we WILL take her for a ride if she say we will, that if we don't have her preferred food right that moment, we WILL get it in time, that if she isn't getting all our attention right that second, she will get it when it's her turn.

Many people with a child like Janey seem to find the kind of settled peace that we have as she gets older.  I think a lot of it is acceptance.  If I put things in a negative way, I could say it's also giving up on certain things.  We don't feel much sadness or despair over what Janey can't do, most of the time.  She is who she is.  We don't expect her to never get upset, never scream or cry or bite her arm.  We know those times are part of her, just like the times she dances and sings and laughs.

As William was getting ready to go home yesterday, he remarked on Janey.  He said "You know, overall lately she's a joy"  You should have seen her when she saw William at first.  She was overcome with happiness to see her big brother.  At one point, he took her with him to Dunkin Donuts, and he couldn't believe how she waited patiently, how she just enjoyed the experience, being with her brother and getting a treat.  William has been here for all of it.  Hearing him say that---it meant a lot.  Freddy said similar things too.  She is lucky to have the brothers she has, and they are lucky to have her.  And we are lucky to have all three of them.

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