Exceptional: unusual, not typical
Monday night we went to the open house for Joshua’s school. He goes to a preschool two days a week for exceptional children also known as EC. There is an EC program at most public schools and some private. EC is interesting in that it encompasses many different types of children, but there are two main distinctions. There are children who are in AG (academically gifted) and children who have some sort of situation that makes learning difficult for them. We are an unusual family in that we have children in both categories. One of our children is in AG and our son Joshua is delayed and needs EC services to help him learn better. We were so proud when our son was labeled academically gifted. I wanted to tell everyone how smart he was and all that proud mom stuff. I can’t say the same for when Joshua was labeled developmentally delayed. That EC label was much harder and I didn’t want to tell anyone. In fact we didn’t for quite some time. It has taken us a while to come to terms with it. Both children are exceptional, but the world sees them so differently. That is hard to deal with as a parent.
On Monday night I had a chance to meet some of the other parents and children who will be in Joshua’s class this year. All the children are 3 years old and Joshua is the oldest and the only one who was in the class last year. The other children all have various special needs. Some are obvious, like a little girl who has CP and a boy with Down Syndrome and some are less obvious like Joshua. I joked with my husband that part of me wanted to go up to the parents and say, “so what is wrong with your kid?”. lol Of course I wouldn’t, but I think knowing that other people understand what it’s like is nice. I got to talk to two moms who have kids in the class, one child has Down Syndrome and I think the other may have Autism, but I am not really sure. We talked about what it’s like to have a child who doesn’t play like other kids, but destroys things instead. I was so glad I am not alone in my frustrations. I would love to go through a day without having something in my house torn up or destroyed. I would love to live in a house that doesn’t have padlocks everywhere because my son can easily get through any kid proofing products that are plastic. The other moms have the same issues. I got to talk to a mom whose son has Down Syndrome and she has a daughter who is 2 who has past him developmentally and we lamented about that and talked about our sadness. No one can understand that unless you have been there. It felt nice that Joshua is actually the most verbal kid in his class! I don’t feel so behind now. I am so thankful for my friends and family who are so supportive and encouraging with us and with Joshua, but it is so nice to connect with other moms and dads who know what it’s like day-to-day and can say they understand. I love and need the encouragement of those around me, but I also need to know I am not alone and finding other families with special needs kids does that.
There are times I wish I had typical kids. There are some days I wonder why God has given me exceptional children to raise, I don’t feel like an exceptional parent, some days I feel like a horrible parent. But I do the best with what I have at the time. I found a list this morning, it was a schedule I tried to keep when Sam and Jordan were little, back before our family became exceptional. It was time blocks of 30 min with activities and reading time and all the stuff that a “good” mom should do. That was back when I made homemade bread everyday and fed my kids organic stuff. You know what? I was miserable. That was a dark period in my life. All those things I was doing because I was trying to control my life. We hadust been through a miscarriage and I thought if I could control my life and schedule every second I could prevent anything bad from happening. Nice plan, but doesn’t work. I finally let go of all that now I no longer schedule every minute. I can’t. Having an exceptional child changes how your life looks. I am too busy dealing with life to write a schedule. I have learned that I can’t control life. Things happen, good and bad and I don’t control that. I have learned to let go of things and let God handle it. Most of the time. You learn so much being an exceptional family. I laughed this morning when I saw that schedule. It is so ordinary. I like exceptional much better.