Whatever, I like it. And whether you call it time passages or transitions, there does seem to be a bit of that going on around here as of late. When I think back to this time last year, I couldn`t begin to picture where we are are today.
Last August, we (myself and two other families) had just started negotiations with the Department of Community Service for the Blue Jay and two of her friends (young men she has grown up with and who are in Special Olympics with her) to live in their own home, with the support they would need to be successful as part of a government pilot project.
Those negotiations were long and painful - nine months long, in fact, and nearly as painful as giving birth to a baby. But by the end of December, we had a lovely house rented and the three young adults were able to live there on weekends; unfortunately, only weekends at that point because we didn`t yet have the government funding to do any more than that.
But then, as of June 1st, the Blue Jay and her friends have been living in their own home
For the past two months, there have definitely been a few huge bumps along the way - it`s definitely a process and we`re learning as we go (both the young adults and the parents). The beauty of this, though, is that it is neither a group home nor a small options home - in both those situations, you are placed in the home with other adults, often strangers. Instead, the Blue Jay has been able to choose her own roommates.
Another major difference from the old way of doing things is that we don`t have staff; instead, the Blue Jay and her friends are supported by ``house buddies``, who, for the most part, are pretty much peers (chronologically) - thank goodness for our local university and its SMILE program, which pairs up interested students one-on-one with children and youth with special needs. The Blue Jay has been in the SMILE program since she was 3 or 4 years old - in fact, that is where she learned how to swim (and she`s quite a good Special Olympics swimmer) without any formal lessons.
Last but not least, the house is not being run by either the government or a private agency - we, the parents, are the home`s administrators. Trust me, that can be both good and bad, depending on the day. It`s a lot of work for us, but an ideal situation for the young adults. Or, at least, hopefully it will be once we finally get all the bugs worked out.
Life has not always been easy for the Blue Jay or for us, her family. It`s been a long, often hard road at times, but she is finally getting some of that independence she so desperately wants and needs.
By the way, did I ever mention that she is also working part-time (two days a week) at a local Tim Hortons, something she has wanted to do since was a little kid? She also does some volunteer work and in one of those places, she gets to run a cash register in a small second-hand clothing store - something else she has wanted to do since she was little (run a cash register, that is).
So there`s that.
It's so hard to believe that my baby is starting university. Definitely mixed emotions there - proud, nostalgic, a little worried and a little sad; not much different than those faced by any parent who sends one of their children off to university for the first time, I suppose.
I am very, very proud of my two girls. They both continue to face challenges, but they have grown into amazing young adults and, in many ways, those challenges have helped shape who they are today. I guess we all must have done something right.