By: Jane Samuel
‘Tis the season – for thanks giving that is. I see friends posting things they are thankful for each day on Facebook. There are probably similar lists on Twitter, Tumbler and Google+. I suspect my teens are being flooded with them on Instagram and my own email and snail mail is filling up with Thanksgiving letters from various non-profits, all worthy of a little monetary love AND thanks for their work making this a better world.
But here I sit with my busy life, wondering how I am going to get all my cleaning, cooking and decorating done while also tending to a child who can be a bit emotional depending on the day, the situation and even the food she has eaten. Thanks’s giving – that act of being grateful – is the last thing on my mind. Besides, I am a born worrier, so I would rather worry about this or that, than sit down and list the things I am grateful for.
That is, until I consecutively opened two emails that made me pause. The first was an email from the school principal – aptly called “weekly words”. This week’s was about report cards. Just a few short paragraphs long, her gentle instructions on the best words to use when a report card is stellar – OR not – were so wise. I needed her words of instruction, because report card time in our house can be challenging with a child with learning differences who lags way behind where her siblings were at the same age.
I sat there thinking of the times I have said, “Wow! You are so smart” to my older two children and the times I have fretted over the younger one who has spent her whole life tested by her past and the developmental delays it left her with.
But it wasn’t until I opened the second email – a Thanksgiving newsletter from Orphan Voice (a non-profit we support) that the entire picture came together in my mind with regard to our “challenging child.”
That of her learning and our being thankful.
The past 11 years have not always been rosy for her – or us. Adopted after 12 months in a poor orphanage there was a lot of developmental and emotional trauma that needed to be healed. Even now, there are still bumps in the road, and the uphill battle to learn despite severe memory and language processing deficits is, well, always uphill. Unlike our other two children who have mostly sailed through learning, the younger one has caused us on numerous occasions to adjust our definitions of “normal”, “smart”, or “intelligence.”
But it is at times like this, when the focus is not on the dark clouds but the silver linings in life that I realize how thankful I am for this sweet being in our lives AND the lessons of life she has taught us.
Yes, she may be old enough for sixth grade but be in fifth and read at a third-grade level.
Yes, she may not get “letter” grades like her siblings who are in normal curriculum schools.
Yes, she may need to be reminded on an hourly basis how many inches are in a foot, how many days in the week, and what season comes after this one.
Yes, she may be a bit over the top at times emotionally and need redirection.
BUT, she has the work ethic and the love of learning that I wish all children had.
And, she has the compassion and care for her fellow human being that I only wish I had one-half of.
And that is a mighty good list of things to be thankful for!