We've been waiting for the other shoe to drop since returning from Rwanda. And guess what? It hasn't. That stinkin' shoe hasn't even slipped loose.
For real. Pinch me. There have been countless moments when I have thought to myself "this is the best summer we have had since 2009!" I can't tell you how many times my eyes have welled up with tears as Ryan and I sit on our red bench, watching our kids play baseball or catch fire flies. I have not sat on the steps outside the boys' room, crying, once this summer (since '09, I would almost nightly collapse in tears next to Ryan on those stairs). We are entering our last week of summer here...I think it's safe to say that we stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop.
There is zero logic in our plan. Zero. Who goes to the other side of the world to find healing for their son's hurt heart? We haven't gone to therapy, there aren't any new supplements or theories or attachment techniques. It's just another chapter that God has written in Etienne's life. And I am so, so thankful for this illogical twist.
We still have our wet beds, our crashing into everything, our general random-weird-post institution behavior. But the dark, flat stares, the manipulating lies, the hurtful actions are nothing like what we've survived in the past.
Part of it is that I have embraced that my E will never function like other kids. Don't judge-let me explain. For example, I know Etienne's cues these days and I'm meeting him where he's at. If he's been out of his comfort zone, over stimulated or tired, it doesn't work to try to snuggle him or even to have him nap. Instead, we've taken to running together. The physical exercise helps him regulate himself as well as taking him away from the stimuli (or the grown up that is low on patience). So when he's starting to do flips off the furniture (I'm not kidding) or laughing his high pitched tired scream, I make him run five laps around the perimeter of the house. Corporal punishment? Nope, he likes it and we call it "preseason conditioning."
School starts soon. E says he could "stay in summer forever." I'm not gonna lie; I have my own fears about him returning to sitting in a desk, in a classroom with people that don't know his heart. I get nervous to think that the expectations of the school are going to be really, really challenging for him. But then I go the grocery store and another mother tells me that E was always the boy that tied her son's shoes. Or we work in the school garden and his old teacher shares how he always offered to pray for his classmates. And I know God is using my E in that public school to bring Him glory.
I think back to a few months ago, when we were so afraid of the aftermath of going to Africa. And that aftermath has been the best summer of our lives: a swimming, books, ice cream, tan lines, s'mores, road trips, fire flies, bare feet kinda summer. It was worth it. The last four years of feeling like we were just hanging on. They have been worth every moment we have savored this summer. So bring on first grade! (Gulp.)