I told my kids the "Peanuts" joke from last blog. Dale thought it was funny; the girls voted it the saddest joke ever. "Poor Peanuts!" they cried. Then we all fell to giving our imitations of Peanuts as he sailed over the fence into the elephant pen again and again, looking up gratefully when he saw the policeman approaching, pitifully telling the judge his name. Our family is seriously crazy, so we had a good time laughing at Peanuts' expense!
Dale had PT on Wednesday; he was already shaky and unsteady, so I wasn't sure what to expect that day. As it turns out, he had his best ever stair-walking event yet! Dale walked down half of the stairs going foot-over-foot (like we normally walk) instead of bringing one foot down to a step followed by the other foot onto the same step. His leg tried buckling a couple of times, but he's getting better at catching himself before falling now. Once down, Dale turned around and walked up almost the entire flight going foot-over-foot! His therapist and I were soooo excited. When we reached the top, Alison gave me a high-five, and a lady who had been watching Dale's progress cheered for him, too! What a great day that was. And, oh how tired Dale was afterward. His legs seemed like limp noodles after all that exercise. Alison even asked if we would be okay getting to the van; I assured her that Dale would be so glad to leave, he would walk just fine---and he did!
Unfortunately, Wednesday did not continue to be quite so wonderful. Later that afternoon, Dale was trying to get from the living room to the dining table where we have our laptop set up. I was looking at something online, and he wanted to see what it was. Despite my instructions to stay put, Dale got down on the floor and walked on his knees around the table. When I noticed this, I told him to go back! He got partway back, but, upon attempting to stand up in order to sit in the easy chair, he lost his balance and fell, striking the back of his head on the wooden base of the nearby couch. Of course, when we heard one of his sisters gasp and then Dale's cry of pain, everybody came running. I was vascillating between feeling sorry for him and being mad because he had done it to himself. He had ignored me and done what he wanted and had now paid the painful price. We got him up and into the chair; Emily had already gone into action, grabbing a cold pack from the freezer and wrapping it in a towel. She's getting quite good at being alert and helpful when someone is in distress. That's impressive in an almost-six-year-old, even if I'm a bit prejudiced in my opinion! Dale reclined in the chair with the cold pack against the back of his head for a while. However, not until we arrived at church did I check out Dale's profile and realize he had quite a lump on the back of his head. Of course, it was tender to the touch, but I checked it anyway. The skin was bruised and reddish but unbroken. It remained sore, especially when he lay down to go to sleep, but in the morning the swelling was gone. Dale said it's feeling much better now.
Thursday was spent entirely at school, doing lessons and taking a couple of quizzes. Because of his fine motor troubles, Dale takes twice as long to write something, so quizzes take twice as long as usual. However, Dale's mental faculties are not greatly affected any longer. He listens during the teaching time and responds with correct answers to review questions. On both history quizzes, Dale received a 70% D; there were only ten questions, so each wrong answer took off 10 points. Dale missed three questions each time. Letter grades aren't really all that important, are they? :-P (Just kidding! I'm a teacher, so I know that letter grades are a good way to judge how well a student is learning the material.) I'm not as concerned with Dale's letter grades right now as I was when he attended regular classes, and I believe he is retaining the information well. That's what is important. We are working our way through his grammar book and math book as well as history and science. In each subject, I can tell Dale is remembering what he was previously taught and adding to that store of information. As we get farther into each curriculum book, I'll be able to see how well Dale accepts and uses new information. For now, I thank God for Dale's progress.
I've already begun preparing Dale for re-entering regular classes next year. That may or may not happen, but it's good to help Dale look ahead at his life. So much of our lives now focus on the present, this minute, today, that it's good to think about the future some. I try to give Dale something to look forward to as well as encourage him to realize that life will not always be like this: struggling to walk, only attending a few classes, tutoring with me alot. This morning, Dale said something that made me pause. Our school likes to celebrate "First Fridays" (the first Friday of each month) by dressing in casual clothes (today was "Favorite T-shirt Day") and having a bake sale. Dale and I went out to get something from the tables; he noticed his classmates there too and said, "We got here just in time. My class is out here." I keep thinking Dale feels isolated from his classmates and feels not fully part of the school. Apparently, that's all in my head! I'm the one who sees Dale differently, but not Dale himself. Even his classmates and school friends have accepted him as he is now, while giving him room to grow and develop out of each stage of recovery. What a precious gift these students have given us in taking Dale any way they can get him! Not once has anyone looked oddly at him; never has he gotten looks from classmates when he stumbles while walking; the students are careful not to bump into him, yet, at the same time, they rush past him when headed somewhere, giving him the idea that they consider him normal enough to be able to catch himself if he needs to. Do you get my drift? They treat him like anybody else in school!!! Who would have thought I'd be so glad to see one of my children "ignored" as only junior high/high school kids can?! Praise be to God for giving us back our son. Dale is well on his way to full recovery. He's not perfect yet, but who among us can claim that?
One of the little second-grade girls asked me today, "Are you going to be my teacher in third grade?" I responded, "I don't know yet; we'll see." She said, "Maybe Dale will be all better by then!" I marveled to see such trust and faith in her small face, and my heart was blessed. I was encouraged by this young girl's words and could only pray, "Even so, let it be, Lord Jesus."
Well, only two more months of school left before summer break. What a way to live, always looking forward to the next time you get to sit and do nothing! Didn't the summer seem longer when we were kids? Now, we get out of school the first week of June and return the last week in August. How depressing. I've been praying that some parents of elementary students will desire summer school for their children so I'll have a job this summer. I'll already be tutoring Dale; adding more students to the mix won't be too hard. I'll just have to work around Dale's therapy sessions. I taught elementary summer school last year, so I have an idea what to expect. If God wants me teaching, He'll make it possible; if He doesn't, I'll probably pout and whine some and then accept His will!
We tried going to SP today, only to find out upon our arrival that they had called yesterday afternoon and cancelled. Someone in the house (my husband!) had forgotten to give me the message. So Dale and I drove all the way out there (30 minutes), made our way to the second floor office, and turned around and walked back out to drive back to school (30 more minutes). I couldn't really be upset though; it got us out into God's beautiful springtime. Today's weather has been sunny in spots, cloudy in others, with some wind and a few raindrops. Easter Sunday is usually held during a downpour; we consider ourselves lucky if we get only mildly wet. Does anyone know of a way to exchange today's weather for Sunday's forecast? It'd be great if we could have sun on Easter. (Considering this is Washington, I'm not holding my breath.)
**Dale's PT therapist told him on Wednesday, "If you can master the stairs with ease and eliminate the need for assistance while walking, we can drop you to one session per week." You should have seen his face light up when she said this. Ever since, Dale has been working extra hard to walk up and down the stairs going foot-over-foot. It's good to see him pressing toward a goal, believing in his future. God has great plans for him; I'm just glad He lets me be here to witness Dale's applied faith and determination. Won't it be something to look back a year from now and see how much farther Dale has gotten? Can't wait!!!
Matthew 7: 7 - 8 "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."