Kathryn. When the Words Heal

Two months ago I posted  Three Rejections about our painful experiences from the spring of 2006.  It seemed that at that time, all the doors were closing in front of Robert (and me).  As we, the parents, tried to enlarge Robert’s world by introducing Robert to new places and new activities, the institutions  that, by definition, should be open to him, expelled him one way or another.  I am not sure how Robert felt about this.   Maybe he was relieved that he did not have to go to the school, he did not like.  Maybe he felt that something was missing from his life. I can’t tell.  I know that I felt anger, confusion, and piercing sadness. 

I was sitting at the large,  oval table in a conference room at the local ARC.  Kathryn, representing ARC was sitting in front of me. Next to her sat the representative of, as it was called then, Department of Mental Retardation.  We were talking about Robert.

-“Why don’t you bring Robert to our program?”  asked Kathryn”

” He is very tense lately, and I never know how difficult he might behave.”  I answered, remembering all those times I was called to school to pick him up, because of the behavior the teacher was not able to control.  “I never know if he will have a melt down or not” .  “I would rather keep him at home than be called to take him home.”  I said knowing from the past year experiences that picking Robert up was never easy.  He was aware that my arrival to school meant that he did something wrong. He certainly did not want to admit that.  So he did not want to leave the school.  I felt I did not have any other option but to keep Robert at home.

But the Kathryn said,
“Please don’t  think that you can bring Robert  only when he is behaving perfectly.  To the contrary, when he has hard day at home he should come here. This is  one more reason to bring him here.  We are capable of working with him through any behavior.  We are here to help.”

I do not remembered exactly, word for word, what Kathryn said in the late spring or early summer of 2006.  She  used fewer words.  They were simpler and calmly radiated with meaningful assurance.  I wish , I recorded her words and listened to them whenever I needed to heal from the wounds caused by others.

Robert attended the program twice a week.  There had  never been a problem with behavior. That shouldn’t be a surprise. Kathryn, who was a director of family support, rather administrative position that did not include hands on care,  almost always was with children taking care of those who, on a given day, had the hardest time in the program. By doing so she was not only supervising young employees and volunteers.  She was giving them an example of how to meaningfully engage and take care of young people with many developmental issues.

Later, I learned that Kathryn’s major was Business Administration.  She moved to California and started working for financial institution.  I miss her a lot, mainly because I have never again been so convincingly reassured that others are able of taking good care of Robert even on his worst days.

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1 Comment

  1. I have to add that during the following years I met many very caring and skillful teachers, their aides, and representatives of agencies (state and non-profit). I also met many who rejected Robert in most unsettling ways. I learned that the people make institutions, be it school or agencies, to be good or bad and not those institutions’ programs, loudly advertised goals or ethical fundamentals.

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