Sigh. I’ve waited to post this (and actually wondered if I ever would) because it gets my emotions so raw. Let me start at the beginning…
Brian and I decided that it would be a good idea to put both kids in swimming lessons this spring. Liv has never taken “formal” lessons. Christian took “special needs” lessons last winter. Christian enjoyed the water, however, Brian and I were concerned that they didn’t focus enough on swimming skills vs. the-love-of-water. Christian has never had a problem with the latter. We really wanted him to learn some basic water survival skills.
About a month before the classes were set to start (and we were ready to register), I tried emailing the aquatics director to see if it was feasible for Christian to partake in “regular” lessons. I waited and waited. A week passed and I hadn’t heard from her, so I stopped into her office to talk with her directly.
She didn’t seem too concerned about anything that I wanted to tell her about Christian. She just asked (more than once) if Christian was OK without me in the water with him.
Well, yes, he is OK without me.
Her answer to me then was to enroll him in whatever class I wanted to. She didn’t seem to have time or attention to listen to any of my other concerns, so I left her office and signed him up for “regular” class at the same time as Olivia. Easier for me. Awesome.
…or so I thought…
I arrived with the kids on the first night of class. Both were excited and couldn’t wait to get into the water. When all of the children were divided into smaller groups, I could sense a rumble of concern about Christian from the instructors. They were nervous about him. One of them went and asked the aquatics director if she was “OK with him being here.” Her reply was, “If he’s OK without Mom in the pool, then I’m fine with him being here.”
I started to get nervous and anxious about my son being referred to as him. I was starting to get irked, but tried to stay calm and positive for Christian.
I backed out through the door and watched carefully. As I stood there I was horrified, crushed, and angry as one of the instructors (right in front of Christian), started tearing up and shaking. As I tried to read her lips, I could see that she was saying, “I can’t handle this! I don’t know how to teach him! I can’t do this!” She was panicking, shaking her hands, and looking at him like he was the plague! I wanted to run out there, grab Christian out of the water, and shield him from her reaction.
Eventually, the aquatic director came out and talked to the teary-eyed instructor, went and talked to one of the other lifeguards, and then headed my direction. Sigh.
Aquatic director walked right over to me, and in front of all of the other parents, started telling me that Christian could not be in these classes. She told me that he is not capable and that thankfully they were overstaffed on lifeguards that night so one of them could spend time with Christian for the rest of the allotted class time. She told me that I would have to enroll him in the “special needs” classes if I wanted him to continue lessons and that she supposed that she could “roll him over” into the special class that started in two days. She made this sound like she was doing me this huge favor. Sigh.
Had it not been such a long day by that point, I might have been more vocal with the aquatic director. However, as I watched my beautiful boy now happily splashing around with extra lifeguard, I just nodded and told her that I would like to continue the lessons and to go ahead and put my baby in the other class.
I’m sure that aquatic director said some more things to me, but I was done listening. I was too busy watching Christian and fighting back my own tears. I was lost in thought wondering whether Christian had heard and how much he understood about what the swim instructor had said about him at the beginning of the class.
As soon as aquatic director walked away, I could no longer hold myself together. I started bawling, uncontrollably, by that window, in front of the other parents. I tried to stop. I really did. But I just couldn’t. There were too many emotions washing over me all at once.  I donned as brave face as best as I could and attempted to pull myself back together by the end of the class.
Two days later, Christian started lessons in the special needs swim class again.
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Three weeks passed and my emotions were not as raw as they had been. The kids are thriving in their swim classes. I made an appointment to talk to the CEO of the place where the kids were taking their classes. He agreed to meet with me the next day.
I recounted our story. He listened to my every word. He asked questioned and repeated me, just to make sure that he fully understood what I had said. He promised to use it as a “teaching moment” and asked that I let him know how the swimming class turned out in the end.
I was satisfied.
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Swimming lessons have now come to a close.
Olivia did fantastically well and loved every minute of her class.
And Christian … well, Christian did great. He also had the most excellent of teachers, Mr. Tim. Mr. Tim was genuinely happy to see Christian every week. Mr. Tim was energetic, caring, and resourceful. He got Christian to try things that I wasn’t sure I would ever see him do – like putting his head underwater to grab a ring off of the bottom of the pool! I know! Awesome, right?!? Mr. Tim had him working on paddling with his arms. Once Christian could do that pretty well, Mr. Tim had Christian start working on his kick. Christian still may be a long way from swimming on his own, but he is now on his way thanks to the patience and understanding of Mr. Tim.
I wish that there were more Mr. Tim s in this world…

Yep. My Liv is younger, but she plays the role of the Big Sister so often. Not that I think she minds much. She wants to be the older one.

It cut my heart a bit last week, though, when I sat down with Christian’s teacher and reviewed some of the recent testing that they had completed. We were curious to see what developmental level Christian was testing at as it had been three years since he last round of testing. The results showed that he is testing at a developmental age 2-1/2 years below his chronological age. OK. I guess I wasn’t too overly surprised by that, but what smacked me was realizing that my 23-month younger daughter had now surpassed my son by about 3-years+ in developmental age. That isn’t supposed to happen. It’s just not.

Thankfully, my kids don’t seem to mind who has what developmental vs. chronological age. I am praying that it will always be this way. I don’t understand God’s plans, but I know that he has great things in store for both of my beautiful children. I’m praying to feel the peace that this knowledge brings.

My handmade Mother’s Day gifts from two of my biggest blessings…

from Christian (typed by himself) 🙂

from Olivia

 

I have been blessed with some fabulous children.

Olivia and I had a discussion on the way to school yesterday about communication.  About how some people can’t use words or have a hard time using words to tell other people what they want or need.

Liv was  taking this in and thinking seriously about it.  Then she said, “Some people use sign language.”

“That’s right, honey.”

“And Christian uses ‘hand language.'” [Huh?]  “When he tells us what we wants by showing us instead of talking.”

Absolutely.

Then our conversation meandered back to her birthday.  However, I was still stuck on her simple explanation to Christian’s non-verbal form of communication.

“Hand Language.”

She gets it.  She really does.  🙂

Somehow five years have flown by…

You have grown…

Always smiling.  (Well, almost always. 😉 )  Always on the go.  Trying to keep up with your big brother.  Sometimes taking the lead.  Always in style…

You can’t wait to get older.  I’m ready for you to take your time…

Our princess…

May you always remain the sweet girl that you are.

Happy Birthday, Olivia.  You are a blessing from God!  We are so happy to have you in our life! 😀

We enrolled Christian in swimming lessons on Saturday mornings for his safety and our peace of mind.  He is highly attracted to water.  Puddle.  Ocean.  Bucket of water.  Lake.  They are all equal in his mind and therefore are all treated the same.  Jumped in.  Oblivious to any danger that may exist in doing so.   We are blessed that this is one-on-one swimming instruction.  Christian is getting the attention that he needs (especially around the pool, ‘cuz ya know, he’s a runner, too).  We are also happy that this gives him a scheduled weekly outing beyond church and school.

We would have been the unfairest parents ever if we didn’t find a class for Liv to take, too.  She is starting to get more jealous of things that Christian has (because of his needs that we otherwise wouldn’t own).  Thankfully, I found the answer — “Little Steppers” dance class.  It runs during the same hour as Christian’s swim class, in the same building, for the same number of weeks,  and she loves to dance.  Perfect.

[sigh]  This week is the start of a major change in routine…

We are back from vacation — leaving Olivia bored (since she had so many people to talk to and play with for the last week) and Christian wanting to swim and go for boat rides.  This is the closest that I can offer —

Summer school is over.  Christian has been requesting “school” for the last couple of days and waiting for the bus to show up.  I love that he loves school that much.  🙂 I’m bummed that it doesn’t start again until September.  😦

Therapy schedules have shifted, which is actually good because some of them moved into the morning to make up for time that he was at school, but the shift still throws everyone off a bit.  (And Christian’s having a hard time adjusting to Olivia interferring helping with therapy.

And we are having a family reunion at our house this Sunday.  Awesome that it will be here and we will be in a Christian-proofed 😉 environment.  Just not looking forward to all of the cleaning that lays ahead.  It probably won’t be so bad once I get started.  That “getting started” is the hard part for me.  However, it will be helpful to have Olivia staying with my parents from Friday afternoon ’til Sunday at party time to play with her Arizona cousin.  I found out that she is my big mess maker.  If I can start cleaning after she goes on Friday, it should stay relatively clean until Sunday.  Whew…