It’s the time of year when we special needs parents try to find a way to say thank you to the teachers and therapists who teach and care for our children in the form of a meaningful holiday gift or card.
How do you say thank you? How do you convey gratitude to the people who work with your precious one day after day, do the dirty bathroom work, rejoice over the big-small gains, and never give up? How do you appreciate the ones who have given you back your dreams and fueled you with new hopes and helped make your whole family better? (Seriously, I want to know).
I’m always at a loss.
Someone once told me, ‘When you enter the special needs world, you meet a whole new class of people.’ Brandon and I have found this to be true; those who have come into our lives as a result of Rhema’s autism have been huge blessings to us. My girl is a cutie, no doubt, but she can be quite a challenge and I’m grateful (and sometimes shocked!) that people besides me care for her so much.
I met the parents of one of Rhema’s teachers a couple months ago at a fundraising benefit for Rhema’s amazing-no-place-like-it-in-the-world school. Their daughter, Heather, loves my girl. She believes in her when others don’t, she is teaching her all of those important OT things I don’t know about, and how to trace her name.
When I met her parents, all I could say with all of my heart was,
“Thank you for Heather.”
Later, Heather’s father sent me an e-mail that I will cherish because he made me feel special and proud to be Rhema’s mom. I share some of it here because (1) it demonstrates the great treasure these teachers are and, (2) it gave me a different perspective, that is, our children are a gift to their teachers.
I was very moved by your comment “Thank you for Heather”. I’ve been thinking about these words quite a bit since you first said them and each time I am filled with pride. But upon deeper reflection I want to thank you for Rhema and Hope.
You see, we have the same dreams for our children. That is, we want them to reach their full potential and nothing less. We also want to surround them with caring, loving people who will allow them to reach that potential.
Now, [her mother] and I have guided Heather as best we could and as a young adult she needs to find other caring, loving people to bring her to that next stage. In order to reach that full potential, Heather needs:
Young children in her life because God has given her the gift to work with children. Rhema is a beautiful child!
Young children who want to learn because she has the ability to teach. Rhema wants to learn and is willing to be taught!
Young children with determination to meet seemingly unreachable goals because she believes in pushing people to “be all you can be”. Rhema is determined and will reach her goals!
Young children that can love because she needs to be loved. Rhema is lovable!
Rhema, wow, what a gift. She is helping Heather reach her full potential…
Thank you for entrusting your daughter’s growth and development to Heather.
May they continue to push each other to continue to be God’s gift to those who know them.
A short story: In Heather’s short career she has the following routine. When she leaves work she calls her mother, or me if Mom is unavailable, and tells us about her day. When she speaks of Rhema she typically says “My Rhema, I love my little Rhema”. Your beautiful Rhema has become a blessing in our lives. Thank you again for Rhema.
Thank you to all of the Kates, Courtneys, Jills, Tims, Sarahs, Jennys, Cerissas, Katelyns, Terres and Heathers of the world for your life-changing work.