Ezra,  Personal and Spiritual Ramblings,  Special Needs Parenting,  The Preschool Years

My Broken Hallelujah: Thoughts on the Last Day of Kindergarten

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It was 2014 and I was (once again) driving to the Christian preschool my son was attending to deal with a disciplinary issue. Once again taking time out of my respite because he wasn’t succeeding. “Broken Hallelujah” was popular that year, being still a new(ish) release to Christian radio. I found myself raising hands and singing through the tears…

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where you are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don’t always know what to say,
But you’re the one that can hear my heart.

This was back in the days of being told to “just be consistent” and wondering why we couldn’t seem to get our {parenting} act together to make our kid obey and function in a childcare or classroom setting without screaming, hitting, kicking, or spitting.

This was back in the day of venting to my friends on Voxer and realizing that maybe there was something more going on…then backpedaling because I must just be crazy.

This was back in the days before Ritalin, Zoloft, and behavioral therapy.

This was in the back in the days when it was just me, a distraught father, and a difficult three-year-old trying to make it through one exhausting day after another.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know you make beauty from these ashes.

This was back in the day when church brought me more pain than anything else. When I just wanted…no needed…someone to come alongside me and ask me if I was okay. Someone safe to whom I could say “no” and fall apart. Someone who would ask how they could help (in a way besides telling me about a parenting book). When I needed someone to tell me that yes, you can come to church on Sunday broken and messy and still be welcome – instead of being told that Sunday morning is about “corporate worship” and that “we don’t have time for that.”

This was back in the time when I was sitting in a Christian mom’s group wondering how to relate to a big-name Bible study star hanging out in Florence complaining about how “unglued” she became over her daughter needing help carrying packages in the rain and how it messed up her day-one-hair when my 4-year-old son just got kicked out of preschool and was throwing plates against the wall and throwing chairs in the nursery.

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain.
On my knees, I call your name.

This was back in the day I was too close to walking away from God for good…when I told my husband I still believed in God but wanted to take a break from church.

With nothing left to hold onto,
I raise these empty hands to you.
Here’s my broken, here’s my broken,

Fast forward almost three years. As much as things have changed, some things still remain the same.

Yesterday I had to leave the YMCA early because he got in trouble for hitting a staff member. The childcare director and I had to have “a talk.” But this time, she asked, “How can we help? We want to work with you.”

And I was able to tell her, “Yeah, you know…I have a document on my computer that I’ve used in other situations. I’ll edit it tonight and send it your way.”

This afternoon, on his last day of kindergarten, I sat down on my computer to update the document we created for our (new) church workers with more current information, strategies, and techniques the YMCA staff can use with our still-challenging son.

“Please know that Ezra is not an undisciplined child whose parents just let him do whatever he wants; rather he is a struggling kid facing some rather severe mental and emotional challenges that has come a LONG way in being able to participate in new settings.”

Today we were right back at the Y. Trying – yet again. Armed with a document handed to a childcare worker.

Me: “This explains…”

Childcare worker: “Oh yeah, I’ll definitely want to read that!”

Broken. Hallelujah.

I jumped on the elliptical with a sigh and a prayer for at least 30 minutes to myself – but hopefully a full two hours this time.

That’s when it came on Pandora. Just like that I was in our little Honda Accord rushing to deal with my child…

You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
‘Cause you’ve been here from the very start.

I thought about how far we’ve come:

Earlier this week, he asked me, “What was the name of the church that we went to before we went to Grace?”

I told him. He asked if we are ever going to go back.

I told him: “Grace is like our family. When we hurt, they take care of us. We aren’t going to leave our family.”

Broken. Hallelujah.

“The other church wasn’t like that. They didn’t treat us like family.”

As much as things have changed, some things still remain the same. This past Sunday morning, I still heard him screaming (all the way from the auditorium), but when I went down, I was met with his (volunteer) aide who I know loves him to death. We worked through it. He calmed down and went back to class and all was okay again.

Broken. Hallelujah.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know you make beauty from these ashes.

I still don’t know what the plan is. I still sometimes am just as lost as I was at the beginning. I am still soul-weary and wondering if this will ever really get easier. I am still searching…always searching…for more answers, more help, more strategies…more…something to help him.

This morning we bought cake pops for his teachers and aides. This afternoon I searched in vain for a card to say “Thank You” to his teacher.

How do you really say “Thank You” to one who is there for him for almost seven hours…who calms his meltdowns and coaches him to focus while still teaching him what he needs to learn? Who has been scratched and kicked and screamed at and yet keeps showing up every day, loving him? So when you drop him off at 8AM (already exhausted from the fight of getting him ready for school) – you worry about him, but yet don’t worry because you know “she’s got him…”?

Broken. Hallelujah.

A lame card and MnMs don’t seem like enough…

And so, with another school year in the books, we enter our summer. Still broken a lot of days.

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain.
On my knees, I call your name.
Here’s my broken Hallelujah.

Yes. There have been meltdowns and suspensions and far more red and yellow days than blue, green, and purple ones.

But we have a kiddo who is now reading at a 3rd grade level and conversing with random strangers in Spanish.

We have a kiddo who earned a medal for being the most helpful student in his grade in Spanish class.

My Broken {Special Needs} Hallelujah

And we have a plan. It may be constantly changing and being adjusted, but it’s there.

We have providers. We have medications. We have an IEP and a school staff. We have a church family. And now, hopefully, a YMCA staff that’s willing to join in the fight with us…for him.

When all is taken away, don’t let my heart be changed.
And when I feel afraid, don’t let my hope be erased
Let me always sing,

There is still hope in our hearts and a {broken} hallelujah on our lips.

Related Posts:

When the last day of school feels too much like the first {thoughts on surviving a very long year}

Preschool Graduation: Ezra’s Trials and Triumphs

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