It’s really easy to get stuck in a place where all I notice is that Ryder’s arm is still not working. I’m really grateful for the moments when God helps me take a step back, look around, and realize we’ve taken some pretty decent strides in the right direction this week.
First off, Ryder actually survived five full days at school. Well, ok… 4 1/2 but that was only because of an occupational therapy appointment. 🙂 He didn’t call me to come pick him up. He didn’t get sick, and I didn’t get any urgent emails or texts from the teachers and staff alerting me to a problem. We can also use the drive-thru pick up and drop off lines because he can climb in and out of the car with much greater ease.
Not only has his stamina improved, his steroid-induced attitude is better too. It’s not gone (he’s six, afterall!), but we don’t find ourselves staring at a child we don’t recognize anymore. As the weird tantrums have decreased, so has the burping. That’s not gone either (unfortunately!) but it’s much less gross than it was before.
He’s climbing in and out of his bed with confidence now. And he’s even running around a little bit. His run still looks very strange, but so did his walk last week so we’ll put this one in the win column too. Despite not noticing huge strength or movement improvements in his arm or hand, we are encouraging him use it more often. We give him simple tasks like trying to hold onto my hand as I pull his arm into his shirtsleeve, or even carrying a cookie in his right hand (even if it is just wedged in there). We can see how he’s focusing on those tasks, which will help rebuild some pathways from his brain to his muscles and also helps him snap out of the “I’m disabled” mindset he sometimes slides into.
Now that life is beginning to feel a little bit more normal, Ryder’s emotions are bubbling up to the surface. When I picked him up yesterday, he burst into tears as soon as the car door shut. Apparently, they had been working on drawing gingerbread houses, and a little girl in his class told him that his house looked like a bird. At first I just tried to smooth it over, focusing on forgiveness and taking a deep breath and moving on. But the harder he cried, the more I realized it wasn’t just about the drawing. See, he has taught himself how to write (and draw) with his left hand… and while his letters and numbers are actually a little easier to read than when he used his right hand (because he actually focuses instead of rushing through his work), it’s much harder for him to form shapes. So when she said “Your house looks like a bird,” he heard “Your hard work isn’t good enough. You can’t do it.“
We have always encouraged our kids’ abilities, and urged them to try new things. But it appears we have some rebuilding to do as well. We’re using phrases like “You are capable” and “perseverance” and “courage” quite often. I have no doubt he’ll encounter a bit of teasing or negativity along the way, but I’m also confident that once his tears are dry, he’ll use those experiences to push himself to try harder. That’s just the kind of kid he is!
As for me, I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more. Psalm 71:14