At some point, every parent realizes that for a child to flourish, one has to let go.
To be independent, free thinkers, children must explore on their own, make new friends (and enemies), make mistakes, fall down and pick themselves back up.
Thinking metaphorically, I have no doubt that when our children experience setbacks in life, they’ll be perfectly capable of “picking themselves up again.”
But, it’s harder for me to think in literal terms when it comes to Adriana’s special needs.
If she physically falls down, she can’t pick herself back up. The genes Gaby and I passed on to her simply won’t allow her to do that.
My instincts tell me that she’ll always need our help along the way, until they find a cure for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and she walks and gains the strength to function on her own.
One where Adriana would still need help, but not necessarily from mom and dad.
Meet me halfway
Normally, Gaby takes Adri to her class. But for Mother’s Day, she needed to be with Santiago at his school for an afternoon of activities.
So, it was up to me to take Adri to class.
I’m slowly getting comfortable moving around Lima. My “neighborhood” is getting bigger. I’m teaching English part time and commuting to different parts of the city.
But, I still get anxious when I’m faced with new experiences – new places to go.
But, I was by her side the entire time.
All the other parents dropped off their kids and left. I was just too scared to do that.
The regular teacher was absent, and the substitute wasn’t fully aware of Adri’s situation.
I sat Adri on the mat where the kids play music and sing. The mat got crowded as more children joined the class.
My anxiety heightened as I pictured one of them accidentally bumping Adriana, causing her to tip over and hit her head.
I sat in the back (cape and all), ready to rescue her when she needed me.
I think the teacher’s assistant noticed my nervousness and didn’t question my staying in the room.
As the class progressed, I began to notice how engaged Adriana was. She wasn’t asking for me. She wasn’t shy. She was simply another 3-year-old, interested in what the teacher was teaching.
She needed a little assistance now and then.
Adri’s arms aren’t as strong, so she needed some help holding the instruments, or a little coaxing from the teacher to play the instrument.
For one of the activities, the teacher had an alligator muppet on her right hand, and each child was supposed to place a little toy inside the muppet’s mouth.
I was ready to jump in and help Adri lift her arm up, but I held back.
With all of her strength, Adri lifted the toy as high as she could. I prayed to God to give her a little more strength.
Just then, the teacher met her half way, bringing her hand down to meet Adri’s.
She met her half way.
A that moment in time, Adri didn’t need me. She was having fun all by herself!
The compassion and understanding that I believe are in every human being – whether we see it or not – were all Adri needed to succeed.
Granted, it may be a small task for some. But in my eyes, it was momentous!
We really don’t need you here
Yesterday, Gaby needed me to take Adri to her class again.
I got the typical butterflies I get when I have to do something out of my comfort zone.
I complained a little — because it’s what I do. But, I quickly stepped up to the task.
The first time I took Adri to class, Gaby drove us there. This time, we would have to take a taxi.
Taking a taxi in Lima is an experience worthy of its own blog post (or two), so I won’t go into details here.
Fortunately this time, it was a relatively painless experience.
I had Adriana in my arms, and my backpack and her Seat-2-Go on my back, as we headed for the corner to hail a taxi.
For every 10 cars on the road, about nine are taxis (slight exaggeration), so there’s never a wait.
The driver didn’t haggle over the fare, and we arrived in one piece….a true sign of God’s presence.
The regular teacher – Ms. Betsy – was there this time.
I put Adri’s Seat-2-Go on one of the chairs at the table. The seat allows her to sit at the table, strapped in, so she doesn’t lose her balance and fall.
I then sat her on the mat on the floor in the center of the class and asked Ms. Betsy if I should sit in the back, as I’d done the last time.
She said it was actually better if I wasn’t in the room.
I voiced my concern about Adri losing her balance and falling backward, potentially hitting her head.
They never called.
“We need to teach her independence,” Ms. Betsy reminded me.
A ray of light made it’s way through the clouds that day.
A glimpse into a future where Adri gets the help she needs…just not always from mom and dad.