Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Joy School

No, I'm not blogging about Elizabeth Berg's wonderful novel (although maybe I should be). I'm blogging about the school we THINK is about to become Benjy's anchor.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Ben is currently without a placement. He is a boy who has never made it in a less restrictive setting. Mainstream schools and classrooms make him want to end his life. They make him a bloodied (literally, as in mutilated fingers and fiercely bitten lips), depressed boy. Although he is super bright (ask him about some crazy-arcane thing, like WWII German tanks or coding in Java, and prepare to be amazed), he has mostly learned on his own. Classrooms are way too stressful for learning. Sensory nightmares for a guy who can't take noise, chaos, and the unpredictable.

So, this new school, which is on the campus of perhaps the preeminent psychiatric hospital in the country, is like a dream come true. For Ben, and for Lars and me. Now I know what you're thinking. "Gasp! A psychiatric hospital? REALLY??" And my answer to that is: "Really." Benjy is a seriously psychiatrically involved kid. And this school totally gets him. We are waiting for a final acceptance, but based on the way things went today, I think he's in. And I am celebrating with a Diet Coke and four squares of Trader Joe's dark chocolate. Yum.

What was so wonderful today, apart from the sensitive, child-focused, and kind staff we hobnobbed with (we loved them all!), and the tranquil school setting, was Ben's way of being when he rejoined us after a couple of hours as a pupil there. There was a lightness about him. He was chatty -- we could hear him talking to the head administrator all the way down the hall. His body was relaxed. He'd had -- wait for it -- FUN! He'd played a MATH GAME that involved a lively and rapid calling out of answers, and he LIKED it. (You must understand, in our family we don't take kindly to math. We do it if we must, but we do it grudgingly. Lars maybe a bit less grudgingly than the rest of us.)

I tried to figure out the last time Ben had experienced joy, or something like it, in school, and the answer I came up with was: never. Not once. Not even a hour of it. There might have been minutes or even hours of okay, but never joy. Today I think he felt it. He's bummed out that he can't start tomorrow. (What??) And I, my friends, am waiting for that email telling me all systems are go. I think I will get it tomorrow or Thursday. I hope I will. I'll accept gratefully any and all third-party prayers that this will happen. And when it does, we are going to party (quietly) until the cows come home.


  1. Am crossing my fingers and my toes for good news. So glad you found a "home" away from home for Benjy. Sending you hugs and love.