“Above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you, because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” – Roald Dahl
We have been in the thick of evaluations for our little Eliza…the beginning of a long transition away from her weekly in-home therapies and into the public school system. It is a scary change, partially because it is entering an unknown and partially because, as a former educator myself, I know all too well the strained resources of our public schools for all kids – but especially for those who struggle. And I know Eliza will be counted among the struggling for the length of her 14-year journey there.
At her final qualification meeting this week, I sat around a table with six therapists and educators and listened to all the challenges, the concerns, the goals, and the accommodations. It was good and important and hard and heartbreaking. In some ways, the evaluation process puts Eliza in a stark black-and-white contrast with her peers, measuring her skills in month increments that are often a full year behind with delays reaching 27%. But when you look up from that seven-page document, you see a person, one whose gifts simply cannot be quantified. And I am thankful that she is surrounded by a village that gives voice to that too. Even the clinicians in Thursday’s meeting commented on her contagious smile, and her home therapist spoke of Eliza’s remarkable determination to stick with a task even, and sometimes especially, when it is difficult for her. That trait is especially inspiring to me.
There are so many things I don’t know about Eliza’s future, but after this week, I know where she will be at school next year. For now, that seems like enough. At least now, I can picture it. And I like to picture it. I like to imagine her in that classroom, exploring the play kitchen and turning the pages of new books. I can see her laughing with friends I know will come, and I’m already looking forward to hearing about her adventures as we walk home. Is it a little terrifying? Yes…more than a little, actually. But when I think about it, most of parenting is. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Like all hard and scary things, the evaluation process has shaken away the clutter and forced me to reconsider what I value most, which is never something that can be measured on a report or kept in a bank. Uncertainty and fear carry with them an invitation to intimacy with the Lord in a way that very few things do, and that spills over into everything else. I am again awestruck at the kindness of friends and strangers who go out of their way to support my daughter and our family. I am again overwhelmed with thankfulness by the simplest of moments…snuggled on the couch with Derrick and the girls or even cutting up vegetables for dinner and marveling at the vibrant red of a pepper or the the fresh fragrance of a basil leaf. It is all in the journey, but even more, it is all in the eyes with which we see this glittering world around us. That is the truest evaluation, it seems. It is gratitude. It is grace. And it is an abundance that has no measure.