Archive for October 21st, 2012

Yesterday was Harvest Fest at Jonah’s school.

I did something very similar to my dorm room door, junior in college – only we glued real leaves to the wall…

We visited his classroom and spoke to his teacher, who gave us a folder full of Jonah’s work sheets and art, then told us Jonah has good days and bad days, which is teacher-euphemism-talk for he’s really difficult, randomly, and it’s frustrating. He is one of the most verbal kids in the class, so they don’t use PECS with him anymore.  I guess Jonah has a vocabulary of sight words and he really loves occupational therapy.  His teacher is young, pretty, and interested, with a sharp mind for noticing important things and a kind heart to care about the children.

There are teacher’s aides as well in the class, and occupational/behavioral therapists, and art/music teachers, and they all work together to educate these mysterious children like my Boo.  Amazing.

What a beautiful day, too, sunny and warm and autumn-pretty – after visiting the school, we walked to Jonah’s house and then to the recreation center, where they had bouncy bounces set up, grills cooking up yummy food, and activities for the kids.  We waded through the groups of kids and teachers until we found Boo.

They’d actually managed to get him to wear this headband with two curled black pipe cleaners and red leaves on the end of each one.  He used to hate stuff on his head — hats, hoods, Halloween costume accessories.  When or why or how this changed, I have no idea.  In some ways Jonah is very malleable; he morphs almost magically into a different kid, one little corner of his brain making seemingly arbitrary decisions in matters of head coverings and food preferences, who he requests to be with him in the backseat, what he wants to drink:  appoo ci-der?  milk?  cranbewwy soda?

When we caught sight of him, he was standing next to one of the picnic tables and seemed to be doing okay, but as soon as he saw us, he wanted out.  And so he got a bear hug from Pa (my dad) and then my mom and Andy and I brought him to Andy’s apartment.

Jonah’s newly renovated house – Jonah’s window overlooks the playground behind it, and the pool behind that.

Jonah leads the way to the car.

Jonah being silly as his dad helps him with the car harness

When we’d completed our usual tour of bath, lunch, and car ride, Jonah requested the “grow-shee-store?” At the self-checkout lane Jonah started screaming in what I can only describe as “obnoxious joy.”  I told Andy to go ahead and take him out while I weathered the stares (usually Andy’s privilege) and paid for the food.

And after we’d been back at the apartment for a while, my mom and I left.  My car drove us home okay, but when I tried to run to the grocery store later in the day, the steering wheel was shaking and the car pulled heavily to the right.  I guess tomorrow I’ll have to drive it (gingerly) to the shop by my work and leave them a note with the keys.  Sigh.

I was just thinking:  It has been a long time since I cried over leaving Jonah behind each week.  I don’t know what that means, if it means anything at all.

I will also tell you this little not-about-Jonah story:

With my favorite pastor ever (the recently retired Father Noone) I’m joining a committee to support a school being built in Fontaine, Haiti.  Father went to Haiti and helped cut the ribbon on the opening of the first three grades.  The money needed to build the school (and, before that, a well) was in large part funded by special collections at the church from which Father Noone retired.  And now, that same church has explained to Father that, due to financial challenges, they will be unable to continue to support the Haiti project except for a second collection twice a year (or something equally lame).

Disappointment at this decision aside, I am helping Father Noone raise the money needed to keep the 105 students there for another year.  It’s just $300 per child.  That’s $25 a month for a year.  Or, as the commercials like say, “for just pennies a day” — but it really is true.  Hell, you could spend $300 just buying school clothes and supplies here in the states.

These are children who would otherwise have to walk 4 miles a day round-trip to school in another town – in a country whose villages have no electricity nearly three years after the 2010 earthquake.  Unimaginable.  Try to picture that happening here, how enraged we would all be.  Hell, I remember an ice storm some years ago and being frustrated at its four day interruption of my normalcy.

Anyway, if you can help (in any amount), please click on the link and donate from there.  If not, I’ll never know.  I wouldn’t judge even if I did.  Every cause wants money.  I just want to help Father and this school he believes in as much as I can.  This quote by a wonderful author (who had to write under a male pen name to get published) describes Father Noone perfectly —

“In spite of his mildness and timidity in reproving, every one about him knew that on the exceptional occasions when he chose, he was absolute. He never, indeed, chose to be absolute except on someone else’s behalf.”
George Eliot, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life

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