It is after 10 pm on Sunday night and it is freezing! I snuck into Emily's room to make sure she was warm enough. Despite sleeping with 4 blankets, she is rarely actually "covered" when I check on her before I go to bed. Jacob went to bed later than usual tonight but I was surprised to find him still awake when I opened his door.
I decide to lay down with him just for a few minutes. He has one of those Twilight Turtles that cast stars and a moon on the ceiling. There are three color options for the stars and I'm so glad he likes the calming blue stars. Emily likes the red ones because it is as close to pink as she can get from her turtle, but the harsh red glow reminds me of staring at an alarm clock.
"Everything is so hard for me."
My heart breaks into a thousand pieces, as it comprehends what Jacob has just found the words to say.
He starts to talk about things at school, a computer center and a listening center, listing different things that are hard. I'm trying to remember specific details but it is a blur. I'm listening to him but I realize that the main reason I feel something physically crack deep inside my spirit is because my worst fear has been realized. I've said those words to people before, usually through tears: "Everything is just so hard for him." But I've never said it in front of him.
And now he's realized it, too. To hear those words come from his own mouth, in such a sad, resigned tone... it is just too much.
I hold him and tell him that I know things are hard but that I am going to do everything I possibly can to help him learn and grow and be happy. I remind him of all of his teachers at school, at church, and therapy that are doing their very best to help him. I remind him that God loves him very much and will always be there to help him.
"I promise that things will get better," I say. The words feel hollow, almost like a lie because I know that things will probably get worse before they get better.
I wonder what it would be like if everyone in my life was trying to change me? How would I feel, how would I act? Would I be angry? Would there come a point in the day where I would just say, "No- I am done." Would I be sad? Would I overreact to things? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. (Anyone want to take a guess at some of the issues we are currently trying to help Jacob cope with?)
It looks like I just got a lesson in compassion from my 5 year old by looking at the world through his eyes.
And suddenly I feel better about my promise that things will get better. If nothing else, I have gained a greater insight into Jacob's heart and that is where all real change, any change worth fighting for, will happen.