The beginning of a new school year…..social media, news bulletins, newspaper headings, morning radio shows are all flooded with the same thing, first day of school, pictures of happy kids in their brand new uniform, shiny shoes and big suitcases, parents crying over their baby going to school for the first time or going to high school, a new grade, as they passed with flying colours, ready for the beginning of a new chapter! This year, I had the privilege to be part of it as Gian’s sister Leane, started grade 1 (read more about her in “no greater love”). I was overwhelmed and so thankful to the Lord, that I was granted the opportunity to experience such a lovely event in a child’s life, but part of me was also sad, as I could not help but to think of all my fellow special needs parents out there….
This is usually the hardest day for us…..a day you get reminded of broken dreams, a day you get reminded of the fact that you maybe will never have the privilege or opportunity to post a photo on Facebook of your child going to “big” or “normal” school, not even to talk about standing next to the athletic field or swimming pool cheering for your child and be proud when he/she stands on a podium as they came first in the u/7 60 m sprint or 50m swim in the inter house gala . This is a day we stay away from social media, we do not post, do not like and do not comment, not that we are jealous, ungrateful or not proud of your kids, it is just a heart sore you cannot explain in words…..our own unspoken heart ache…!
The beginning of a new year is really frightening and stressful for us……you are only just recovering from a year of hard work and your knees are just healing from being on them the whole year in prayer, and now it starts all over again. Your new year’s resolutions change from losing weight and start an exercise program, to working hard to help your child overcome a barrier or reach a milestone. Before school even starts, you are already exhausted, having to try and fit in all the therapy sessions, and co-ordinating your child’s full program with his therapists, tutors and new teachers, a week has just so many hours. You already started to prepare them that they will move to a different class, with a different teacher, new friends and more challenging work to prevent possible melt downs in the first week of school. You get input from your child’s therapists on how we will get them through this year and get them to pass their grade. And more important ……..you pray! You pray for your child, you pray that their teachers understand them, you pray that their class mates accept them and not bully them. You pray for yourself and your family, for wisdom, strength and energy….!
On 14 January 2014 Gian was supposed to start Grade 1 and yes, I was crying my eyes out as it was a very emotional day for me, although I thought I was strong enough to handle it, my hart broke when I saw all the photos on Facebook that day. But deep inside me there was a kind of peace that I could not describe, I knew the Lord had another plan for our superhero. Through my tears, I opened my Bible and the Lord gave me the following script, something I will always treasure deep in my heart: 2 Corinthians 12:9 The Message “…and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness”.
I then realized, Gian will maybe never do the “big school thing”, wear a proper school uniform, do athletics or play rugby, but he has so many gifts that we must focus on. We need to stop focusing on his autism (handicap) and weaknesses and start focusing on those amazing gifts God blessed him with. God promises us in His word that His grace is enough for us! He will strengthen us when we are weak.
At that moment, that specific day became a day of great joy in our life! I celebrated the fact that Gian was able to go to school! On that day he reached a big milestone, he started grade 0 at a small private school on a normal international curriculum. He started his school career with great courage and excitement. And today I am proud to say that against all odds, but through God’s grace, he started grade 2 this year!
Every year is the beginning of a new adventure in our life with Gian, and believe me, sometimes that adventure a tough 4 x 4 route. Fear always creeps up to me like a thief in the night and try to choke me, but then I get reminded that there is no place for fear and faith to exist in the same place at the same time! Always let your faith be bigger than your fears!
And through my faith, God always clothes me in strength to walk next to Gian with my head high, to hold his hand tight in mine and be with him every step of the way to complete this challenge with him with great Joy! And best of all, the rewards are mind blowing! I know now that you always see the most beautiful things on the most difficult roads, you just need to believe!
Gian started Gr. 2 this year!