Tuesday, April 3, 2012

His identity, my identity.

     Last week was parent-teacher conference week.  I say week because when there are four, it takes a whole week.  A quick summary:  we are blessed beyond measure by our little neighborhood public school that Molly and Blake attend.  This is the place with a fabulous principal that greets every child by name, has ordered sensory supplies in preparation for E's arrival next year (that's another post for another day), and his staff genuinely challenges our kids in unique ways (think botany meets Harry Potter).  Molly and Blake's conferences are encouraging for Ryan and me. We are so thankful that school is a great place for the two of them to get away from the sometimes chaos that they live with.  
     Zeke's conference was exactly how we would have guessed.  He is happy, cheerful and quickly learns new concepts.  He knows his colors, shapes and numbers.  Other children enjoy his friendship.  Thank you, God.  His teacher is wrapped around his cute pinkie.
     Etienne's conference brought me to tears. Again.  His teacher, Mrs Thomas, has gone to such lengths to meet him where he is.  She has never attempted to conform him to mainstream learning styles.  In disciplining, her responses are grace-filled and loving.  Last fall, she had asked our permission to use art time as phonics time with Etienne; recognizing that he isn't interested in cutting, gluing or coloring; but that given a toddler sound toy, she could get him interested in letters.  We love this.  Since October, E has gone from recognizing two letters to letters.  Yeah!  My heart is happy.   You may think that six months and only four more letters doesn't seem so good.  Remember that this is the child that learned English has his third language.  This is the boy that has closed his hand in a van door and waited patiently (quietly) for someone to open that door to release his hand.  This kid has more to work out than you will in a lifetime.  Most importantly to his parents, Etienne's teacher shared that his biblical knowledge is huge, he is empathetic to his peers and in music, he excels. 
     I could care less that language and numbers and core pre-k knowledge is under the "emerging category."  I just want others to see Etienne's heart.  Many times his behaviors make that really hard.  A year ago, I was devastated to realize how little he comprehended (counting-basketballs).  I may have said that I knew my son's (and his mama's) identity is in Christ alone.  But I didn't really believe that.  I was trying to convince myself that the ways of the world aren't who we really are; yet I was so saddened that E couldn't count how many noses I had.  Who cares?  I don't.  I care that he knows he will always have another meal.  I care that he believes we are his family forever.  I care that he knows he belongs to God.  That's it. 
     I won't lie.  I went through some sad days, realizing that learning was going to be another struggle for E.  Like he doesn't have enough to deal with.  We love learning in this family; but for Etienne, it is stressful and a lot of work.  With lots of prayer, reading of scripture and conversations (and tears) with our Missional Community, God has given me peace.  He has proven that people outside our family have the patience and the ability to love Etienne and to see beyond his loud, needy, annoying behaviors.  Education for my son won't ever be a walk in the park, but I have learned beyond words that the park is boring. We are blessed for the bumpy, off road adventure of raising these Rwanda babies.  Holding tight to Him for the ride.

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