Day 12 Blessings in Disguise
2 Corinthian 4:17 For momentary, light afflictions is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Song: Million Little Miracles
Happy Twelfth Day of Thanks Everyone!
Today, we give thanks for the experiences in our lives that turn out to be blessings in disguise. They usually aren’t classified as “blessings” in our minds. Initially, we think of these “blessings” as frustrating or inconvenient things, situations, or experiences. However, with time, we get to see the significance of the experience and realize just how necessary it was to accomplish an overall purpose in our lives.
For those of you who are new to the Thirty Days of Thanks journey, I have an amazing teenage daughter, who has been diagnosed with Autism and Catamenial Seizures. Due to her seizures, she needs medical accommodations and a nurse to accompany her during school and on her morning and evening transportation to and from school. Because the NYC Department of Education was completely negligent in finding and providing Delilah a nurse for the 2021-2022 school year, she has not attending school in a school building since the summer of 2021. In addition to her not being able to attend school, the DOE would not approve any of her related service for remote learning, claiming that they would only provide COVID-19 related situations for remote learning. After missing three months of school this year, they finally offered her home instruction, which is only 10 hours per week and mainly occurs after 3:45pm. (When you hear the NYC DOE say that they don’t want to leave any child behind, know that it is a complete lie. Everyone from the chancellor down were okay with actively leaving my children behind for months.)
I had to completely shut down all of my entrepreneurial pursuits since September to completely educate Delilah, provide her with all of her related services (speech, occupational therapy), guarantee her daily physical activity, and actively find her a registered nurse who could accompany her to school. Thank God for provision and saving up money from several of the consultant jobs I had during the summer. They provided the money during these months of rainy days to pay all of the bills that were still ever present. To say that I was frustrated and stressed out is an understatement. (I have the stress-related weight gain to prove it!)
Each week consisted of routine daily prayer for this situation along with calls and writing emails to every school administrator, every nursing agency, independent nursing contractors, child and disability advocacy groups, and my elected officials to get answers and find help. I’d also check in with the teacher Delilah was assigned, if she was in school, to find out what Delilah’s peers were learning in their curriculum so that we could mimic the same instruction at home. I had to engineer creative ways to teach and explain concepts that Delilah did not or could not cognitively understand. Luckily, Delilah is a very visual and musical learner; I was able to incorporate art and crafting in our learning sessions for her to understand abstract concepts better.
Although I was very frustrated and stressed with this entire situation, no one would know it. I’m that person who will always make lemonade when handed lemons or find alternatives solutions in hard situations. And since Lilah and I were stuck without a nurse and I didn’t know when one would appear, I decided that this would be a perfect opportunity to roll up my sleeves and teach her to read. For years, I have wanted Delilah to read and have tried to teach her but did not see much progress because of her verbal limitations. My friend invited me to join a group for special needs parents on a social media outlet, which allowed parents to get the necessary resources and ask questions. There was a reading specialist who helped children with dyslexia to read. I was able to ask the reading specialist how I should approach teaching Lilah to read. She gave me some tips and I decided that we would start immediately. During the summer, Lilah’s godmother gave me these magnetic words to put on the fridge. She said they were very useful in helping her grandchildren to read. I’m so glad she did because Lilah was fascinated with them and I was able to keep her engaged enough to teach her site words.
After weeks of pushing through learning site words, making social stories with those words and Delilah’s continuous recognition of any of her vocabulary words in our daily 30-minute reading session, Lilah had a major breakthrough. She remembered how to spell her vocabulary words with very little prompting. She read the words in the sentences that I made for her. I was so proud of her. I took video and audio recordings of her spelling her words and shared them with everybody. Here was the lemonade from the lemons. I couldn’t stop crying tears of joy for days, I was so happy and excited for Delilah. I knew that this was just the beginning of her reading pursuits. I brought her another magnetic word kit since she was so fascinated with them and let her spell words with the individual magnetic letters. I noticed that her mind was starting to unlock in a way that it had never done before.
As frustrating and inconvenient as it has been to not have a nurse to accompany Lilah to school, there have been so many “blessings” in disguise about this experience. For one, I got to “see” first hand how much of a mess the NYC DOE is and that it is going to take someone who is willing to cut through all of the bureaucratic foolishness to clean it up. The nursing shortage for medical accommodations, home instruction, remote learning capacity for all academic situations, not just COVID related ones, will all be part of my next phase of advocacy so that our Black and Brown children will really not be left behind. Secondly, I was able to give Delilah the necessary one-on-one attention she needed to learn to read. If I am truly honest with myself, none of her teachers, even in their best intentions, would have been able to give her the individual time and attention she would have needed to tackle this endeavor. I’m told that Delilah’s school curriculum for her and her peers is vocationally based this year and involves very little of the “formal” academic instruction. So, it’s very possible that she would have gone another year not being able to stretch in the capacity of reading. Thank God that with this experience, she didn’t have to do that. She learned and can continue to stretch herself.
Today, as we give thanks for blessings in disguise, I invite you to assess any of the current “inconvenient” or “frustrating” situations occurring in your life. If you look beyond the sourness of the situation, what are or have been the lessons that you have learned? What are the blessings in disguise that you are overlooking? Additionally, I invite you to donate some time or resources to your local library or to Reading is Fundamental (https://secure.rif.org/page/19541/donate/1) a nonprofit which seeks to instill a passion for reading in every child, so that all of our babies have the fundamental tools and resources they need to be literate.