This post has been swirling around and around in my head for a couple of weeks now. I've been trying to find a funny way to bring it up or to have a solution in place before I wrote just so I could make it seem like we have it all together.
The truth is that we are FAR from us having it all together.
The truth is that parenting RAD kids is the hardest, least satisfying thing I've ever tried. Don't get me wrong. We have (few and far between) moments of breakthrough. We see (some) (slow) movement towards outcomes that we hope and pray for our 2 boys that struggle with this vicious sanity-stealer, but the truth is that more often than not, we do not.
If you've been reading for a while you're pretty familiar with the struggles we've had (and continue to have) with Yves. And almost 3 years ago our struggles with Jerry and his tantrums began, which I've also written about. But as Jerry gets older and closer to puberty (he will be 11(ish) on December 5(ish)), the extent of his poor choices seem to be multiplying.
For a while we just chalked it up to learning disabilities. Therapists we've talked to have said that Jerry probably has dead matter in his brain from abuse/abandonment early in life that causes his learning troubles. In the states, we'd be able to do the kind of testing he needs to get his specific challenges identified. The school system would make a diagnosis and write an IEP so that he could learn in the optimum environment. But this is Haiti. There are no options.
He had been home tutored (by a Haitian teacher) for the first year he was here and learned the basics-- how to write, his colors, how to count, etc. When we tried to get him into first grade in Haitian school, he didn't pass the entrance test. In fact, he just wrote his name and left the rest blank because he didn't understand it. So we were thankful a little over a year ago when Pazapa, a school for special needs kids in Jacmel tested Jerry and accepted him.
Jerry spent over a year there and seemed to be progressing, however, he was often getting into trouble. We were regularly called into the office to meet with the director about his aggression/fighting, his swearing, his lying, his stealing. (None of this was news to us because we deal with all the same issues with him.)
So a couple of weeks ago when Jerry was sent home from school with a message for us to come in to meet with the director, we thought it was more of the same. Only this time the infraction was more serious. Together with two of his classmates, Jerry snuck out of school and purchased a bottle of rum and a bottle of klerin (moonshine) and then proceeded to drink it together with his classmates. There are conflicting stories on who actually bought the alcohol as well as where the money came from.
Now, there are all these things that I want to defend about what happened... the other kids were older, Jerry has a hard time making good choices when faced with peer pressure, etc. etc. etc. But the bottom line is that Jerry was involved. It's in his character to be involved in something like this and I can't disagree with the school's choice to permanently expel Jerry and his two friends.
However, this has left us in somewhat of a lurch, educationally. Again at the beginning of the school year Jerry tried again to get accepted into a traditional school and was (again) denied. Now, we're sort of stuck. When I asked the school directors what I could do about his education, they said they didn't know. Perhaps try a public school. But here's the thing. First, I don't even know that we could get Jerry into a public school mid-year (which is unlikely), but second (and more importantly) Nick and I both know that this is not an environment where Jerry would thrive. He has a very weak moral compass and it doesn't take much persuasion to really make bad choices.
And as I already said-- this is Haiti. There are no options. Kids in a situation like Jerry is in are usually done with their education at this point. But we know that's not an option either.
And so we're at yet another turning point where we need to figure out a third way. For the rest of the year (at this point) Jerry has joined our homeschool class. I don't have the ability to teach him the Haitian National Curriculum, (of which I am not a big fan anyway). So he's sort of being immersed in English, and we are translating some things into Kreyol for him. I do not have the ability to teach him Kreyol and French and reading/grammar (in Kreyol/French). He's still meeting with the homework tutor for that in the afternoons that works on some of that with him.
I am hopeful that by the end of this school year he can know enough English that (with a bit of assistance) he can work alongside of Josiah and Nico next year. But for now, we're just sort of winging it. As a somewhat reluctant homeschooling mom to begin with, this is super out of my comfort zone, but we're about 2 weeks in and so far so good.
I have no doubt that a lot is being lost on Jerry in our homeschool class and there are times he's probably really bored, but I also think that this is probably the most intensive attention to his education he's ever gotten. I think that Jerry *could* thrive in this situation. So-- we're giving it a go.
When we first moved here, we imagined we'd parent 20 children (plus our 3). We also had the freaking rosiest rose colored glasses on when we considered what that would look like. Three and a half years and an additional 9 kids later I find myself dreaming about what job I will have next when all my kids are grown and I am retired from the business of child-rearing. I find myself with all these, "if I would have just known"s and lists about what I'd do different. Nick often will say to me, "WHY didn't we just open a girls home?!" But retirement is a GOOD 16+ years away. So for now we just press on and pray for the strength to keep walking.
Would you pray alongside us? Would you pray for Jerry? Pray for his heart to know and accept love-- our love and the love our heavenly Father has for him. Pray for healing from trauma he's experienced. Pray for protection for the other children in our house who often are on the receiving end of his bad behavior and tantrums. Pray for perseverance for Nick and I-- that we wouldn't grow weary with him to the point where we can't handle the challenges. Pray for resources and partners who can walk alongside us to help us love Jerry (and the rest of the kids) well. And pray for God's spirit to rest upon us so that we can live in peace, regardless of the circumstances.