Friday, January 11, 2013

Celebrating the Little Successes!

Yesterday was a day of little successes, the kind that an outsider might look at, shrug their shoulders, and say "Eh, so what?", but for us it was definitely a Red Letter Day.

We spent the entire day over in Delta for Olesya, Angela and Kenny to have their annual English Language Learner testing.  We were told it would take us until 1:30, but we actually ended up leaving at 4:30.  The reason was that the kids were doing so well on their testing that they had to spend much longer on it than originally expected.  After testing, their ELL specialist called me into a room for a short conference.  She spent the first 10 minutes telling me what a blessing it was to watch the kids blossom and to spend time with them.  That alone was a very nice way to end the day.  Then she said, "I just want to warn you, it looks like all three of them did so well, it is probable they will be exiting ELL status."  She then asked me, "How long have the girls been home?" and I told her they would be home three years on Valentine's Day next month.  She just shook her head and said, "I have never seen this before, and I doubt I ever will see it again.  It goes to show how powerful it can be to have someone who really cares working one on one with a child.    There is no way they ought to be testing this strong after less than three years."  She said the area where Kenny was weak was in story recall, which didn't surprise me at all as he told me over lunch, "Mom, I don't think I did very well on some parts.  There were some long stories that she wanted us to tell back to her after hearing them, and they were so long that by the time she got to the end I had already forgotten the first part!"  But she said that overall, his English skills were very solid, despite his other handicaps.

Three years ago, as I paced the floor of an apartment halfway around the world in complete terror at the thought that I was being called to homeschool all five kids, two who had not a lick of English, one who was clearly learning disabled to the extreme, and me with no experience whatsoever, I never, ever could have imagined being where we are at today.  If someone had told me that within less than 3 years, all three kids would test out of ELL and be reading at grade level, I would have laughed so hard and probably said, "Are you nuts?  That would be impossible!".  As I look back on it,  I don't even really know how we managed it.  What I do know is that Olesya, Angela and Kenny have worked harder than any kids I know.  They have had terrific attitudes about having to start back at a kindergarten level, they have been incredibly diligent in doing their work and every single day give me their very best.  It has required an awful lot of them, but they have been so determined to give it their all.  I can't be happier for them that their work paid off.

Now, of course I realize we are still years behind their age related peers.  I know I have 14 year old 6th graders, and that they still will not graduate until 20 or 21 years old.  For some, that would be a deal would continue to eat at them because it would feel like failure.  Not us!!  We have to take our successes where we can find them, and this is one worthy of celebration!  We are not on anyone else's time table but our own, and when they graduate, it will be with real diplomas that have a real, complete high school education behind them.

Tonight, as I sit and type this, I am just so grateful.  I am filled with joy that Kenny IS learning, albeit much slower and with a lot more repetition than other kids his age, but he IS learning, and he IS bright...and most importantly, he no longer assumes he is stupid, but instead sees possibilities.  Sure, we still have an incredible amount to overcome, and it is a very steep uphill climb that faces us, but we all know now what can happen with hard work.  Our daughters who have already climbed several mountains of their own are so happy, so loving, and are blowing me away every day with what they are accomplishing.  I know we aren't near where most their age are, but I just don't care.  We are exactly where we need to be, and with homeschooling the kids don't need to feel the need to compare to anyone else.

Adding to the sweetness of the day was Matthew receiving another hard earned promotion at Civil Air Patrol.  It was a mighty fine day for the LaJoy clan, with only Joshie having nothing in particular to celebrate. When I said something to him about it, he shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't need to celebrate for myself, I am just happy for my brothers and sisters."  I am too, Josh, I am too.

Overcoming obstacles is hard, especially when those obstacles are so much a part of your everyday  life.  Today, as Kenny couldn't come up with the words "dust pan", and yesterday as he attempted to follow a simple recipe in the kitchen but couldn't even recall that he needed to turn ON the stove or actually measure the water, I stopped to remind myself that we continue to make progress, but we will have backward steps, and probably lots of them.  Somehow though, we are still managing to move forward, and those little successes are the things to hold on to when frustration or discouragement strikes.

So I'll wallow in the joy while it lasts :-)  


Denise Klop said...

This is awesome! Your kids are blessed to have you as their Mom, and what a testimony to the hard work everyone has done. I love to see it!

Denise in IN (from the WTM Boards)

Anonymous said...

"So I'll wallow in the joy while it lasts."

And last it will--in different forms, in different dimensions but the LaJoys have learned well how to plant and cultivate joy in the midst of love. Not only do you flourish in the midst of that, but we whom you are so generous in sharing your lives with also grow in that joy.