it takes a village

Do you know who these lovely ladies are? 
Part of our village. Therapists. Teachers. Social Workers. Psychologists. District Reps. Hearing Itinerants. Principals. 
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. 
There are hundreds more. Teacher aids, nurses, doctors, specialists, case workers, grandparents, friends, volunteers, buddies, and teenagers. Some in the past, some still with us, and even more to come.

We truly have a village.
And for that, I am grateful.
They make days like this easier. Days that I have to walk into a room and talk about all the things Jayden can and can’t do. Days that could be really sad and emotional.  And, at times, no matter how wonderful the people are in the room, days like these can still be tough.  Which makes me even more thankful for our village.
These women really LOVE him. 
These women KNOW him. 
And, with every word they speak they protect my fragile heart.
They gently dance around a new label for Jayden. He’s going to be nine soon and “developmental disability” is no longer an age appropriate label for the State of Illinois.
We easily land on “multiple disabilities.”
“Nine?” I think. “It’s going by so fast, which means…..ending too soon.” 
“Don’t go there, Stefanie.” I tell myself.  
No need to go there yet.”
We chuckle about placement. I mean, where else would he go?! He is at home at Laremont.
I notice the Kleenex box on the table. There’s always one strategically placed by the parent.  I’ve used those before in meetings like these. But not today.  I don’t have to fight for services. They just know.
We celebrate Jayden. We talk about how everyone loves his smile, and his calm, gentle spirit. 
Much of that is due to the staff that anticipate his needs and speak his language. His teacher sets the tone with her laid back teaching style that works so well with Jayden.
We set goals. They are going to help him continue to make choices between two objects by looking at the desired item and grabbing for it. That’s how he communicates. 
At eight years old. 
And I, couldn’t be more proud. 
Extended school year? Amen.
Para-pro? You betcha.
Transportation? We love the bus!
Minutes? All of them. 
State standardized testing accommodations? We all laugh. The state requires his teacher to test him on general education third grade work. What are third graders even learning these days? I wouldn’t know.
Sign and date. 
And then I asked to take a picture.
I wonder how often THAT happens at an IEP or three year evaluation? I just wanted to remember this moment. The faces of our village.
Days like these are all so, well, normal now.  
In the past 7 days I have had 8 appointments. Isn’t that crazy?
And no, I don’t know how I do it all. My first answer is not well.  The second, more accurate answer, is Christ.  Sounds like an easy answer, and on some level, it is. I just trust Him. I trust that He loves me. I trust that He loves my kids. I trust in His promises. I trust that He is using me in those meetings. I trust that people can see Him through me.  That’s why some people say I’m strong when I’m really a hot mess. Not me. It’s Him you see. 
And, I see Him though my village. I see how He uses them to reflect His love and care and goodness for us.  Some of His promises are made true through the people He adds to our village.  
“I am with you” He promises. 
“I will make good things come from this” He says. 
It’s really quite beautiful if you ask me.


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