I don’t have to tell anyone here that our special kids miss milestones their age peers take for granted. It’s a fact of the lives we lead. There are diapers in 6th grade (or longer), learning to read years after they “should” (which means maybe never), and tantrums until only-God-knows when (we haven’t hit the endpoint yet!)
My hopes for something as superfluous as a slumber party for my 11 year old with mental, developmental and medical challenges were smaller than nil.
Until two weeks ago.
“Can I please have a sleepover?” She begged with those big, carmel-brown eyes.
“Honey, I would love that so much. You’re working hard and doing really well, but your room smells like pee. She may not understand why it’s like that.” I said in my best hope-filled, please-don’t-hate-me-or-give-up-on-all-this-great-progress voice.
“It’s OK, mom. I think she won’t mind,” she said.
I did what any good mom of a kid with challenges would do to keep from putting my kid in a potentially embarrassing situation: I brushed off the conversation.
But she was undeterred. The next week, again with the begging. And again I said no. Same thing the next two weeks.
Finally, I relented and said words I never thought I would say: “OK, invite her to hang out with the family on Saturday. We’ll see how things go, and if it seems she is comfortable with the various routines you’ve got, I’ll talk to her mom and we can consider a sleepover.”
I couldn’t believe I’d said it. Or what would happen next.
That Saturday, her friend came to the house, hung out with the family, played with the siblings, busied herself while I handled clothing changes, meds and other routines with my daughter. Things were going great! At the end of the afternoon, they approached me with the question I’d dreaded all day: “So, can we have a sleepover?”
Images of my daughter’s face, crestfallen in the wake of teasing (or worse, gossip spread by the friend at school) filled my mind. I wanted to protect her, to shield her from it. I wanted her not to suffer any more ridicule for her challenges than she faces so much of the time anyway. I wanted, if I’m really honest, to swaddle her in bubble wrap. To keep her away from the hard world. To keep her from encountering anything that would set her racing down the difficult behavioral and emotional paths that we’d walked with her before.
I wanted to protect myself, basically.
Fortunately, the girls interrupted my pitiful train of thought with their last bit of persuasion. This friend said to me, “Ms. Wallin, I have the same problem at nights. It will be OK.”
(I wish someone would please warn me when these tear-jerker moments were coming!)
Stifling tears of surprise, joy and relief, I grabbed the two of them and said, “You’ve got yourselves a sleepover!”
That night I stayed up way too late. The joy just wouldn’t settle down enough to let me sleep. I got up at points through the night, making excuses to walk by my daughter’s room where I caught snippets of giggling over Hollywood stars and boy bands. And, of course, the slight waft of urine. (A mom can’t have EVERYthing she wants, after all. . .)
Every sweet girlie noise from that room brought tears to my eyes until I finally succumbed to sleep.
Who would have ever guessed that God cared so much about my baby that He’d cross her path with someone who shares an invisible disability with her?
Not me . . . this time. But you bet your bunny slippers I’m on to His outrageous grace for my girls in ways I never thought to expect from here on out!
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