The holiday break ended at last, V went back to school on Tuesday. As is always the case with long holidays off from school it is a challenge to have so many days without the structure with which he thrives. So it was good to have four days of mini camp in the middle of the break, something to occupy him with art and music and cooking and peers and familiar adults. Still, it was a long stretch from December 23rd to January 2nd, lots of hours and days to fill. The best I can say is that we got though it, as we always do.
Wednesday I went into the city – I really needed a break from the break and a change of scenery. I met a friend near Union Square and we sat outside eating lunch on an unseasonably warm afternoon. It was great to have that city energy, walking down to meet her, the Greenmarket in full bloom despite it being the middle of winter, sitting outside and watching people go by, feeling completely removed from my normal daily life. It was good to see a friend who was understanding that I was too depleted for any witty repartee, that all I wanted to do was sit and eat my lunch and watch the world go by and forget. My reverie is broken by an email – yes I took a break from my unplugged pleasure and checked my messages – just in case. It’s from from V’s case manager M, who expresses concern that before and since the break he has been somewhat anxious and restless. Can’t I get a break? Is my first response. I’m sitting in a comfortingly familiar neighborhood dissolving myself into the lives of others as goes that Auden line that haunts me so often. Then I let it go; it’s the end of the school day and it can wait until tomorrow to discuss.
Thursday I speak to M, who explains that V had a few rough days before the break – his teacher and M think it might have been from all the holiday parties and festivities. I didn’t know about these things, although I shouldn’t be surprised, as our school staff is very creative and love coming up with all sorts of activities to celebrate holidays. Yet for a sensory-sensitive person like V – there are plenty at the school, since it’s for kids with learning challenges – the parties and games can be too much. I have no explanation why he’s still exhibiting these behaviors after the break, when he’s so glad to be back at school. As is often the case, the school comes up with a pat reason for behaviors when I think there are so many factors that come into play, that it’s often a mystery as to why he acts a certain way. Still M reassures us that all in all he is doing well.
Back to Benji’s on Thursday night where we discover that they have excellent french fries that V devours much as I wish he would eat his guacamole or share our burrito bowls. Instead I choose to accentuate the positive, how at ease he is in a restaurant with all sorts of strangers around as well as the friendly waitress he may or may not remember. He seems fine today, none of that anxiety or restlessness I need to be on the lookout for. I hate the constant monitoring and measuring that is expected of parents of kids with special needs. I appreciate any time that feels relaxed, like in the Mexican restaurant where V eats American food.
Friday finally comes, the day I have been fearing and worrying about, a scheduled Meet and Greet at the agency where V had respite several times last year, where they have a spot in a new group home that will open in the spring. We pick V up at school to take him there. His teacher comes running up to let me know that V had a great day. She thought I’d like to know that before the weekend, that it would be reassuring and she’s right. It’s such a relief to hear good news and I appreciate her taking the effort to share that with me.
It’s also good to hear on the way to our meeting, where V will be observed while we have our conversation about the group home. We get to ask all sorts of questions and I feel reassured that it could be a good place for him. Still, there are a lot of unknowns. Who will the other residents be and will they get along? Will the agency provide transportation to the day program we want V to attend? (The agency has its own day program that they provide transportation to but we are less interested in it than the one affiliated with his current school.)
Overall it is a positive Meet and Greet – V is generally calm, although he gets restless near the end of the meeting – it’s a long time to sit and listen to a bunch of adults gathered around a table talking, even if it is his future we are discussing. I don’t know if it will work out but it is a distinct possibility and that feels good. How much we yearn for a loving stable home for our grown child with so many challenges, as well as strengths we hope will be acknowledged. Perhaps this is the place where V can be happy and live a fulfilling life. That is all that really matters. If it were to happen it would change our lives drastically. I think V is ready for the change, I know that I am.
In the meantime we’re back in a routine, with some structure and the same daily struggles and small achievements, the ups and downs of life with so much that’s unpredictable. Yet good things are possible. We’ll just have to wait and see, doing our best to live in the moment