That old saying about taking time to enjoy every day because if you blink the day is gone is the story of my life lately. I have no idea how the time has passed so quickly. The last month has been a whirlwind of activity, milestones and change.
Let’s start with the milestone. Jackson lost his first tooth! It was a shock to me because his dentist had told us that kids like Jackson with developmental delays tend to lose their teeth a lot later than typical children. One night I brushed his teeth (which looked like they always do) and put him to bed. The next morning after breakfast I went to brush his teeth and his tooth was barely in his mouth. For the record, I don’t do well with the teeth thing, it makes me queasy. I yelled for Kevin who tried to pull it but it didn’t come out. About two hours later at school his teacher just barely grabbed it and out it came. It was a great day at the Klim house. Sylvia and Daniel were so excited for Jackson and kept telling him about the tooth fairy and how she was going to be bringing him a dollar. It was so cute. We all kept wondering what Jackson must have thought about it. Jackson goes to the dentist today for his yearly checkup and I can’t wait to tell the dentist he lost a tooth.
The last two months entailed the throwing of 3 birthday parties. All 5 of us have our birthdays in a two month period. It was an exhausting two months planning, shopping and preparing for the parties. But it was worth it. The kids hadn’t ever really had a full fledged birthday party (that we know of) so I wanted them to have a good one. Daniel opted for a Superman theme and Sylvia went with a dog theme. She also had a sleepover with all her best girlfriends which Kevin and I managed to somehow survive. Jackson had a farm theme and instead of gifts we asked for monetary donations to Free Rein, the non-profit organization where Jackson rides horses. Our amazing friends and family brought in $379 for Free Rein. All in all the parties went well but I am happy they are over! If I don’t see birthday cake for another year I will be just fine with that.
A couple of weeks ago I was able to attend the Infant and Early Childhood Conference in Tacoma, WA. I received a scholarship from the Arc of Spokane to attend. The conference was focused on children with special needs. The classes were amazing and I came home with numerous ideas on how to work with Jackson and other families. I feel so lucky to have opportunities like this. The quality and content of what I learned is another reminder of how Jackson has improved my life. And of how important it is that I take what I learn and pass it on to other parents, so that they have the tools to help their children be successful. It was also another reminder that I have found my “button” (I’ll explain later). Helping families with special needs children is how I want to spend the rest of my life. Whether it is through support, as a resource, an advocate or as an educator, I simply want to work with parents. Which is ironic in a way. When I was in college getting my teaching certification, I had to choose a minor. I chose Parent Education. I figured as a teacher I would be working a lot of with parents. Now here I am in a position to actually use that degree. Life has a funny way of working out.
So the “button” comment. One of my favorite things this past month has been the opportunity to attend the Women Helping Women luncheon here in Spokane and hear Chris Gardner speak. You may remember him from the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness”. Will Smith played him in the movie. He was a fabulous speaker and such an inspiration. I took many things with me from his hour long talk but a few stand out. First, the “button”. He talked about how we all have a button (our purpose in life). Sometimes it takes a while to find our button. Sometimes we know from an early age. But when we do find our button, our next obstacle is pushing it. It takes courage to push that button and follow your dream. I know I’ve found my button, and over the last year or so have been putting my button together. Once Jackson starts school next year and I have the days to myself, I will push it. I can’t wait.
One of the other things I came away with was from a very touching story he told. Last year the love of his life passed away. He quit the business he spent most of his life building so he could be her caregiver. He talked about the responsibility and importance of being her voice, when she couldn’t speak for herself anymore. It hit home for me because I am Jackson’s voice. It is an awesome responsibility. But one I am proud to do. When the person you love more than anything can’t speak for themselves, it is up to you to do that for them. You must make sure they are heard. A voice is something so many of us take for granted. But we really shouldn’t. It is a powerful gift that demands our gratitude.
Lastly, change. I have said this before, and I’ll say it again. I hate change. But change is what is happening in our house right now. For the last year and a half we have had the same caregiver for Jackson. She hasn’t always been dependable but we have adjusted to that because Jackson loved her and she him. Over the last month or so it has been a crapshoot whether or not she will show up for her shift on time or at all. While I was at the conference she flaked out on my husband and didn’t show up when he needed her. Then she didn’t show up again the next week on me, twice. It was just too much, we let her go. It’s hard enough having a child who has special needs to have to deal with the irresponsibility of others. Those of us with special needs kids who qualify for services are so overwhelmingly happy to get those services. It is a blessing. Every parent needs a break and a little help. But getting quality services is nearly impossible. I don’t know why it has to be so difficult. So for the past two weeks I have been on my own with Jackson. He now goes everywhere I do. It’s a lot but in a way I know I will miss him next year when he is at school so I am enjoying it. He’s a pretty cool little kid to spend your day with. Whether or not I will be enjoying it in a couple of weeks is a different matter. I may be ready to lose my mind with the non-stop care. The search for a new caregiver has begun but it is a long process so we will see if anything pans out for the summer.
In the meantime, I leave you with this quote that in no way pertains to my post today. It’s just fun. “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Suess