Altho Joshua's educational experiences were good, over-all, not everything was warm and fuzzy, and not every post can be tied with a nice, big bow.
The town where we used to live had a "school" for children and adults with Special Needs. I visited there, but I just knew that was not where Joshua was supposed to be at this point in his life. So, we met with our local elementary school, and, reluctantly (on their part) a plan was put into place. You have no idea of all the paper-work and logistics involved in having a child with Special Needs. And I think Joshua was the first child with Down Syndrome to enroll in the public school there...so it was a BIG DEAL to everyone.
Part-way through the summer, we were contacted by a very sweet lady who taught at the school. She had found out about Joshua, and had specifically asked for him to be placed in her Kindergarten class. We were blown away by her kindness. She told us how much she had prayed about it and all the things she had planned for the year. Of course, not for a minute did we ever think we were going to just drop Joshua off and say, "he's yours for 7 hours...good luck." No! We knew it would require effort on our part to make the teacher's job easier. Fortunately, it seemed like we were all on the same page. We all wanted the best for Joshua, and wanted to set it up so that he would have success.
As the days got closer for school to begin, I became more and more anxious. Joshua was a very sweet and loving child, but very unpredictable. He was as fast as lightning, and could climb like a monkey. And, while he could pick out an apple from a basket of plastic of fruit when asked, or point to the color red...he definitely didn't have the connection between actions and consequences.
But school started and we all made it okay for the first few days. It was a big adjustment for all of us. I stayed in contact with the teacher, and tried to help her as much as I could. It became apparent after the first week that the teacher was extremely overwhelmed. We were "summoned" to the school by the administration, and had a little conference about Joshua. I sat there with my head down most of the time. I mean, like it's not hard enough already...all of these professionals were saying, "he can't do this..." or "he can't do that..." or "we can't be expected to watch him constantly..."
There was a window in the hallway where we could see into Joshua's classroom, so they took us down there to observe. The teacher was having story-time. All of the kids were sitting in a circle, listening to the story. Well, all but Joshua. He was having free reign of the class room. He was into the books, in and out of the closet, over in the art supplies, etc. I was, like, "what is he doing?" and "why isn't he sitting with the group?"
Turns out that the teacher, what with her kindness and prayers and sweet spirit and all...she had no clue about children with Special Needs. She was WILLING to help. She WANTED to help. But she was not equipped for the situation. Her philosophy was that she couldn't expect him to participate like the other children, because she didn't think he really knew what he was doing. So while she was making the other children follow the rules...she was letting Joshua run wild. She thought he was precious, but she didn't enforce her class rules when it came to him AT ALL. It was just so anti-everything we were doing in our own home. We had 2 other kids at the time...and I expected them ALL to listen and obey and follow directions. I certainly didn't let Joshua have the run of our home, while making the other ones tow the line.
BUT, in her defense, she had 20 other children in her class with needs and issues all their own. And she had a curriculum to teach and a schedule to follow, and she was just doing the best she could. But it was not the best for her...OR Joshua.
So...what I learned: A LOT. I learned I was stronger than I thought. I learned that my gut instinct was usually right. I learned to fight for my child, but to always listen to others. I learned that sometimes, even if it's not the outcome you want, even if it's not the best scenario, if it's all you can get...then that's where you have to start. And I learned that you can want to do something really bad...you can pray about it and talk about it and be excited about it...but until you are actually IN the situation, you can't truly know how it's gonna work.
Because how things look on paper, and how you feel about it in your heart...can be very different from how things look and feel and are...in real life.
"...I am He who will sustain you..." Isaiah 46:4