A year ago today Shaun’s name was 5th on the waiting list to get into your school, CREC Montessori Magnet. He was 3.5 years old and had a list of 8 food allergies. Unlike other parents, I did not obsessively check the progress on the waiting list throughout the summer because I was secretly hoping that Shaun’s name would not make it to the top of the list. This momma’s heart was not ready to let anyone else manage Shaun’s care and learning.
I prayed that if we were supposed to send Shaun to school, he would get a spot. That if Shaun’s name made it to the top of the list, I would trust God’s plan and know that Shaun would be safe and genuinely cared for.
Well, September rolled around, and we had not received notification that Shaun had been placed. John and I were okay with that; Shaun would spend another year with me, and we would reevaluate our next steps in the new year.
A few weeks into September the call came. Shaun had a spot in your primary classroom …
I wish I could say I was ecstatic. I wish I could say I ran down to the school to sign him up that very day. But the reality was I felt stunned, overwhelmed, and scared. We had only a few short days to make an ENORMOUS decision, that would lead our little family into new and unknown territory.
Even though John & I took the weekend to talk through the pros, cons, and logistics of accepting Shaun’s spot, I couldn’t forget the prayer I had prayed. I knew I needed to find the courage to trust God’s plan unfolding in front of us.
You see, since Shaun was tiny, we have researched, planned, and strategized to reduce the risk of an anaphylactic reaction. We have spent countless hours teaching him how to keep himself safe while maintaining a close hold on his environment. So although I am a momma of deep faith, more than I would like to admit, I rely on the illusion of control I have over Shaun’s environment to quell the anxiety I feel.
Giving that control to you, finding the strength in my heart to trust you with my most precious gift is the hardest trust I have ever had to give away.
We accepted Shaun’s placement.
And I spent the next few days preparing everything Shaun needed to start school …
I also spent the next few nights awake, playing out every scenario you can imagine in my head.
The day after a failed milk challenge that ended with an anaphylactic reaction (a story for another day), I drove Shaun to school and watched him walk in the doors and prayed you would take care of him!
Over the last nine months you, Ms. Jackson, have proven to be the most incredible teacher we could have ever imagined working with!
You showed us great kindness and patience as we shared with you Shaun’s history and the many things we felt we needed to keep him safe in school.
You truly listened to us, never once dismissing a concern or accommodation we brought to you.
You maintained excellent communication to ease our hearts in the first few weeks of this transition.
You asked questions! Questions that were thoughtful and relevant that would lead to a safer and fuller experience for Shaun in your classroom.
You gracefully accepted my frustration and fear when Shaun had an unsafe candy bar in his backpack, and you took responsibility.
You engaged in the development of Shaun’s 504, helping to build a robust plan to keep Shaun safe so he can focus on learning.
You melted my heart at our Mother’s Day tea when you found cupcakes, clearly labeled and free of all of his allergens.
You fostered a classroom in which Shaun’s peers would be aware and compassionate towards him!
You became Shaun’s advocate in my absence! You spoke up in meetings when others tried to deny his rights. Making sure that all the staff in your school are aware of who Shaun is and what his needs are! You allowed Shaun to expand his world. Yes, through the classroom lessons he was given, but also through the safety he felt with you.
Today, as Shaun heads off to his last day of school before the summer break, I am overwhelmed by all the experiences Shaun has had because of you!
Gratitude doesn’t adequately express the emotion I feel. However, it’s the best I can convey at the moment …
For the hours you have spent working with us.
For the research you did on your own time.
For the love you put into your work.
For watching over Shaun as if he were your own.
Thank you … with every part of me, thank you!
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