Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To evaluate or not: Please Don't. Not today.

We are on day #9 of illness at our house. It's been a journey. Why have I blogged very little in the last 48 hours? Oh, because I have been up to my elbows in the diarrhea and vomit of small children.

Just as Tyler finished his round, Tuck caught it. But sadly, Tucker showed no signs of illness, until the most inopportune time.

You see, Tuck had a major speech evaluation on Monday morning; this one-shot deal was to assess his progress as a boy who will be three years old in September. A team of specialists planned to watch him play, listen to his words, engage in conversation, observe his motor skills, and determine if he qualifies for another year of speech therapy.

(Actually, the result of this assessment would launch him into potentially three years of service, or as much as he needs until he is in kindergarten. Having taught kindergarten, I have a few professional opinions on these preschool, preliteracy years, and I was eager to know my son would get the services he needs in order to get him going on the right foot.)

I have great anxiety in that setting; we've been there before, we will be there again, and it is not my favorite. Tuck and I lay ourselves out, wide open for all the professionals to see and peruse, and we wait for them to decide if we are worth it, if we qualify, if they will help us. It is a very hard place to be.

As we drove to the learning center, I prayed for my boy, and I spoke truth to myself:

Tucker is beautifully and wonderfully made. The Lord knows the plans He has for Tucker: plans to give him hope and a future. He has promised. Tucker is a child of God, made in the image of God. He is beautifully and wonderfully made.

My heart is very tender toward my son and our unique journey on such days. I am both a teacher and a mom in that room; I am both his advocate and his defender; I am both his greatest cheerleader and his safest place. It is tough to sit quietly and let him choose to perform or not, speak or not, shine or not.

He chose not to. None of the above.

The team of specialists had finally decided to assess what little data he had given them, and we would come back again in June to try it all again. (At this point, I was already very emotional over the idea of coming back again; I really wanted it to be over with. Give me the answer: does he qualify? Can you help my son? Can you help my family? No dice. Come back on June 10, and stay tuned.)

As we tried to move forward, and as she tried to comfort me with any words of affirmation, one of the therapists said to me, "He really is adorable. It will be our privilege to see him again."

I am sure she meant that as a compliment, and she didn't know what else to say, and she wanted me to hear something positive about my child. And believe you me: I know he is cute. I will never disagree with that.

But I hate, I abhor, and I absolutely despise when someone uses the word cute to replace smart. Yes, my child is cute. He's stinkin' adorable. But you know what? He's smart. Please don't tell me you missed that in the hour you spent watching him. Yes, he's cute; but he is also a very smart child with a bright mind. He can be both.

As the team and I spoke about another time to meet, I held myself together and I encouraged Tucker to play with the toys for a few more minutes. Before I knew it, he had climbed to the top of the sliding board, and he was throwing up. All over. All over.

Sidenote: It is always the mom's job to clean up a child's vomit. No matter where we are, whose territory we are on, or how many other moms are in the room: it's this mom's job. Bring on the paper towels and trash bags.

I carried my sick little boy out of the learning center, as he wore only his diaper and socks. And I cried. I cried a lot. For a long time.

And I told him I loved him. Because no matter what, no matter what else is true or not true, I love him, with all of me. Words or no words, his heart knows that truth.

What a very hard morning for us. It's one thing for him to not have the words that other children his age have mastered; it is another for him to be unable to show what he knows, for his victories to hide behind the veil of toddler illness.

A very, very sad day. And he's still sick.

1 comment:

Kennedy Krew said...

We've been right there with ya on the sickness road! I'll be praying for you today!! Also, I wanted to encourage you...Your heavenly Father loves Tuck even more than you, girl, and you were right...He plans to prosper him...give him hope and a future! I will pray for the evaluation on June 10th - may your precious son get all the encouragement and support he needs to succeed at whatever he wants to do in life!!