My Heart Named Roger

So. Roger started school on March 13, two days after he turned 3 years old. He was in a fantastic program called CUBS but it's for ages birth to three, and unfortunately our insurance is quite unhelpful and we simply cannot afford private provision of the gamut of therapies needed for his autism. The local school district (Lake Washington) offers not only great preschool for kids whose special needs qualify them but also a really amazing program three days a week that's specifically for kids with autism. Our hope is still to transition to Classical Conversations* in a year or two (likely two at this point, though he could make astounding gains in the next year), but for now this is grace to our family to really help in areas that I simply cannot provide at home, such as speech and ABA therapy. Plus, the social aspect is really great for him.

*More on CC later in the post

Two days into three years old and off to school!

Roger's new schedule is a bit grueling for the whole family. Every day we wake up by 7 (note that my babes wake up on their own normally around 9) and then leave just after 8. We drop daddy off at the park and ride and then take Roger to school and drop him off at 8:30. The Podge takes the bus home; I didn't want him to initially but I realized a few things. First, his teachers strap him into a 5 point harness and then I'm the one who goes on the bus and gets him off. Secondly, it's only other preschoolers, so there are no older kids who can bug him at all. Since he can't talk this is crucial to me because if anything happens he has no ability to communicate it. But most importantly, he loves the bus and it's me who needs to entrust my boy to Jesus and relinquish some control. So, then, on Mondays he gets home just after noon but on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays he doesn't get home until 3:30. Sadness. That's a long time without mah boy! Praise Jesus for glorious no school Wednesdays!

His first day on the bus, about two weeks after we first started school. He's always
 the last stop so it's a little sad that he's all alone but he's always so happy!
And how sweet was his teacher to print this picture of mama for him?

I just need to record for posterity that honestly, school is going really well. The first few days were a little scary because Roger is seriously the happiest boy you ever met. Just ask our friends Josh and Becky. (Amirite, Becky?) But those first few days the Podge would come home from school and be almost catatonic, just staring into empty space and kind of listless for a good 2-3 hours. Eventually he would be more himself but it was awful. But after the first full week he was so much better, and actually the bus helped. I think it gives him an hour-ish to process all of the new things going on, to de-stimulate a bit.

What's best, though, is that Roger's teacher, Mrs. Elyse, is really great. Just another answer to prayer. I feel like at some point we should have an awful teacher or doctor or therapist that makes us feel all sorts of horrible but it just hasn't happened. Every person has surprised me with how easy it is to entrust them to help me best care for my son, because my prayer that people helping him would do it out of love and passion and not simply for a paycheck has been answered over and over. I told this to his teacher in our first talk. She asked me what concerns I had, and I was just honest: I am not worried about people doing their job. I don't fret that Roger will be taught the skills and the adaptations and the academics. Those things will happen because I am just certain that they will.

Academics just aren't my first priority. What matters to me is that this is my baby, the boy I prayed for long before he was in my womb, and I am taking my heart named Roger and allowing him to go into someone else's classroom for 2.5 to 6 hours a day. And my heart can't tell me what was good or bad, what makes him sad or happy or frustrated or hurt. Because of autism, I'm not even sure how well my heart named Roger can even know that's what he's feeling. So I am trusting someone to love him and care for him and have compassion for him in his weakness in a way that I have zero insight nor access to. With CUBS,  I was always watching behind two way glass, so I could see when he was having a great or hard day. With preschool, I simply watch him grab his green ring on the string of rings and toddle off to school. With CUBS, even though I was watching his teacher(s) would always do a 5 minute debrief at pick up. With preschool, I only hear if something particularly bad happened. It's a lot of trusting Jesus that this sweet boy, my heart named Roger, is being loved and cared for in a way that I never wanted, never would have chosen.

[ Big Ol' Caveat Time

Let me just say, I'm not here to argue public vs private vs homeschool. I distinctly remember driving over Stevens Pass, a good 3 years pre-Roger and 4 years pre-Juliet, and definitively telling Jason that I would never homeschool. Because I thought in stereotypes (weird, antisocial, too sheltered, probably not great academics) and Christian law (oxymoron but my college church didn't get that) about having to do everything all the time making the #1 priority being a missionary to tell lost people about Jesus. I thought I had to send my kids to Seattle Public Schools to be missionaries if I loved Jesus. That was stupid. I will argue this: Jesus doesn't make a definitive argument for what type of schooling to choose. He just doesn't.  He DOES clearly tell us to live by the Spirit and walk out our faith according to our conscience. So, for myriad reasons I would love to share later if people care, our conscience has landed on Classical Conversations being our chosen route for our children's schooling. Short story: CC is homeschool, but it's co-op based, with a heavy community element, and the academic material is based on the classical model. Basically the model used in the United States up until the 50s, when we topped the world in education. If you've read Anne of Green Gables or the Little House books, it's similar to how they learned. You can go to the CC website here. But I read The Core, and then Jason did, and we talked and thought and walked out life with Jesus as we normally do and it simply resonated with our conscience as the right choice for our family.

End Big Ol' Caveat]

I didn't plan public school for Roger. Certainly not at age three. But I also didn't plan for autism to hold the bondage it does over my sweet boy's brain. The best care for him, right now, is school and it has been a blessing. I still wouldn't choose it, any of this, but Jesus has been faithful and sweet to me through this journey. Just a little more trusting every day that my heart named Roger is not my own. He's thriving and talks a little more every day. He's starting to ever so slightly pronounce the "s" sound and it's amazing. Plus, I have been able to spend time with Juliet that she never had, coming so closely on her brother's heels, and that, too, has been sweet. It's not all easy and we're not fake about it, like it's just all the best thing and we'd change nothing.

What a crazy confluence of always-be-my-baby meets big-boy.
Roger in school means I get extra special bonding time with the world's cutest workout buddy.
Ok, maybe she's a tie for this cutie, 6 month old Roger :)
Truth: if Jesus told me I had to choose between Roger having autism and Roger not having autism, it's a no brainer. No thought. However, by the grace of God, he doesn't work that way. And through autism has come a sweet surrender to Jesus, an acknowledgment that I desperately need him and this world is not as it ought to be and my children will encounter pain and suffering and nothing I do will ever stop them from feeling what it is to be a weak and frail and desperate and needy human just like me. I didn't choose autism and wouldn't choose school, my boy being away from me nearly 26 hours a week with travel time. But I did choose and do choose Jesus, and he chose this path for me. So as I walk the path he laid before me, I ask him to be the lamp unto my feet.

You know the thing about lamps? You can't see very far ahead. Maybe a few steps at the most. You can't see behind, either, and maybe you don't remember it clearly. But the great thing about the lamp is that though what is behind is blurred and what is ahead is unknown, the lamp is just right there with you so you can see clearly for just that bit of space and time where you are. That's Jesus! No promise that you'll get easy peasy steps ahead, but man is he faithful right where you are.

Where we are is public special ed preschool. It's going better than expected. There is hope for CC in the future. But whatever is ahead, I know that Jesus will be right there with me and I can trust his faithfulness to me.

Your word is a lamp to my feet
  and a light unto my path.
I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
  to keep your righteous rules.
I am severely afflicted;
  give me life, O LORD, according to your word!
Psalm 119:105-07

1 comment:

  1. So glad to read this, Tami. Wish we had more time to connect during the week as you walk through this new season of schooling with Roger. So sweet that you capture this for the kiddos to look back on and reflect on God's work with in the years to come.