Today was Cody’s last day of school for the year, and his last day at the school he has attended for the past 3 years. This means Everything changes. Today we said goodbye to the resource room, teacher and fellow classmates that he’s been with these past years.
Change is always emotional for me, no matter what. Whether it’s a change in schedule, job, class, Jessica moving on to high school like she did last year, and even the change in seasons – saying goodbye to Christmas or Summer. When it comes to change involving Cody, my emotions can often hit a whole new level of intensity. Whether it’s switching teachers or therapists, switching teacher assistants, switching schools….the emotions often overcome and end in many tears. Tears of gratitude, tears of fear and anxiety, tears of disbelief, tears of hope, tears of sadness, and tears of joy. For, every time something or somebody changes for Cody, it involves an incredible investment of time, planning, creativity, adaptability, teaching, learning, hoping, dreaming and persevering. New teachers and helpers in his life have significant learning curves, environments require significant make-overs, curriculum and goals require creative adaptation. It. is. so. hard. to. say. goodbye… to someone or something after all this time and investment on all our parts.
My emotions have to gird themselves; I have to hold tight to hope and positivity. I have to brace myself for challenges and the possibility of people who just don’t have the right personality or tenacity to appreciate and embrace their new job teaching Cody. I have to hope they believe in him, see his potential and have the patience to wait until he proves his aptitude before they jump in and do his task for him. I have to brace myself for the long wait…the period of time when they are getting to know his body language, his gestures, his noises, his facial expressions and attempts at words – Cody’s only way at present to communicate. I have to hope they catch on quickly so Cody does not lose heart and does not give up on trying to express himself. I have to hope new classrooms have followed the advice of his Orientation and Mobility instructor and been adapted in a way that is safe. Will they remember to keep doors closed so he doesn’t walk into a partially open door? Will they remember to not move the furniture? Will they consider how much descriptive information he needs about his environment, the noises, the activities that won’t make sense to him at first? Will they include him enough and adequately so that his days are meaningful and conducive to learning? Will the next environment be such that I can trust and rest, or will I be checking in regularly and fighting the fight of a mom who is also an advocate?
Changes bring questions, they bring worries, they bring hope. Change also brings reflection on the past. Cody and I have been through many transitions. I’ve learned so much through them; about believing in people, trusting their intentions, building them up through encouragement and letting them know how grateful I am for them. I’ve also learned about myself; that I am resilient enough to get through the emotions, that I am capable enough to help new teachers, therapists, schools and environments as we tackle transitions together, that I am strong enough to be an advocate, to create positive change with a strong and respectful voice. I’ve also learned so much about my amazing son. Cody is adept at handling change. He has taught me how to be open to new people, how to trust them, how to reach out into new places and new environments courageously, how to believe in himself and work through the emotions and insecurities that change brings.
Today, I celebrate the end of a fantastic year and run at North Poplar elementary and a boy who impressed and inspired all who worked with him. I also look forward with hope and determination, and with Cody at my side as my inspiration.