After Lydia’s second surgery in September, we had the notion that she might come through surgery and, begin speaking. As though her tongue had been loosed or something. This was naive and now, having a better understanding of cleft issues we know it will take time. But we have seen progress. First words we so longed to hear, then more words, then actual three words sentences.
Three months ago, after one of Quinn’s Saturday morning basketball games Lydia said something wonderful for the first time. She said a clear, ‘Daddy’ from her carseat. Lars’ face was priceless. It was a year before Lars heard this precious word and it was so special.
About two months ago, Lydia began adding to her expressive vocabulary some new words. And she can now say the following words, and although some are more intelligible than others, we are thrilled with her progress all the same.
Lydia says, “Yes, No, Hi, Bye, Yellow, Blue, Yeah!, Uh-oh, Done, Mine, Night-night, Star, Eye, Nose, Mouth, More, Choo-Choo, One, Two, Three, Nine, Mama, Baby, Please, Up, Down. ” And more recently she is putting words together. “My Mom, my Dad, My Mom, home? Stay my Dada.” It’s so sweet to watch these words and phrases develop and begin to see her personality come out in words. Quinn continues to be “Wen” and Albin “Meo-meo” Ha! She’ll get there.
Very recently, as in the last few days we have noticed she is much more likely to repeat words after us. This is thrilling. Lydia has been doing this for months with her dear Speech Therapist, who works with Lydia in our home. But she has been hesitant to repeat after us, when “Lulu” (as she calls her) is not here to guide her along. So, this change is wonderful and perfectly timed, because… tomorrow Lydia turns three! And then on Monday she begins (big gulp) Preschool. Amazing.
In February, Lydia was evaluated by the district to determine eligibility for Speech services at our Grade School, which houses the District Preschool. The Preschool program is made up of both children with special needs and other children from the community who pay to attend. It’s a mixed class, which is perfect for Lydia and we were thrilled at the prospect of her attending the program.
So jump ahead to March 20th, we sat around a large table in the board-room of the Elementary school with several different specialists, social workers, teachers, and District office specialists. Our EI Speech Therapist “Lulu” was also there for extra support and to bridge the gap from one set of services to another. We heard wonderful things about Lydia, that she is a bright little girl, typically developing in every area, except speech. And while we already knew she was indeed a bright little girl, it was wonderful to hear this from professionals in multiple different arenas of education.
And then came time for the recommendation. Either she would receive walk-in services, that to-me, seemed not nearly enough to really help her develop her speaking ability. Or she would be recommended for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Preschool Program. We were thrilled to learn the recommendation was for the full Preschool program! And we were relieved. The program is wonderful. Lydia will have teachers in the classroom, working with her on specific speech development and everything is integrated and the services are simply a part of her regular daily routine. And she may even see her doting brothers in the hallways. How great is that!?! (They are a little excited) 😉
Then the School Psychologist said these words, “Now when is Lydia’s birthday?” I responded that it was April 10th. She then said, “Oh, Okay, well that’s a Friday…she could start that day, or you could wait until the following Monday?” Here’s where I kinda freaked-out and as tears welled-up in my eyes, I told myself, “Suck back the tears woman! Don’t fall-apart! wait until you are safely in the car!” Ha! Somehow Lars and I assumed this program would begin for Lydia in the Fall! The Fall, as in six months away Fall! Nope this was happening. Like, now.
As I thought about my emotional response, I realized that because we have only had Lydia for a little over a year, I felt somewhat like I was sending a baby to school. A one year old. But tomorrow, she turns three! Three isn’t a baby, it’s a tiny person. A tiny person ready to take-on the world! And she will LOVE the school environment, she will thrive. So I did my best to suck back the tears, and after the initial shock over her starting date, and our excitement and some deep breaths, we asked if we could see the classroom.
It was great! Lots of little stations and creative spaces for wonderful play and learning to happen. The teacher also informed us Lydia would have a backpack and locker and snack-time. We thought it was great. And then came the cherry on top. I asked to meet the Therapist who would be working with Lydia. She introduced herself, asked some specifics about Lydia’s surgery (stuff I didn’t even know, which I took as a good sign, because this meant she could educate me!) And then said, “Years ago, I worked in the Craniofacial Department at University of Chicago.” Cherry! She knows cleft issues! And as my sister said when I called her later that day, “That was just God showing-off.” And it was.
Every step of this crazy-wonderful journey with Lydia, God has not only showed-up and walked alongside, but He has shown- off. He reminds us through every detail of Lydia’s story, that He is the one with the plan, He is the one providing, and He will, in his timing, meet every need. And though I know not every step of this journey will be easy, we are not alone. His love for Lydia is far and away greater than ours could ever be, as impossible as that may be to grasp. And as has always been the case, we are simply to trust and walk forward. And so we will. Next Monday we will drop her off at Preschool and she will, I’m sure with great confidence, walk forward with her tiny little backpack, toward her new classroom and her next chapter. And I will cry for many reasons, but mostly because I am so very grateful for God’s very good provision. Again.