We're winding down Reilly's spring break as I write. It's been a good week. I haven't accomplished much except to attend to his social and laundry needs. But this week, and recent events, have given me reason to hope for the future.
I picked Reilly up at the airport on Friday afternoon, and he was bubbling over with plans for the week. Several of his high school friends were also on break from programs similar to Reilly's, and he was anxious to see them. The moms were anxious to catch up, as well. We wanted to compare notes: How is Matthew doing at Riverview? How is Alex doing at the College Internship Program? How is Reilly doing at NYIT? And how is Demba doing at the community college?
Immediately, there were plans to go to the movies, and have sleepovers, and visit their high school to see favorite teachers and friends still there. Arghhh. Lots of driving, I thought to myself. But, it's only a week, I reasoned with myself. And, luckily, Matthew's wonderful step-father volunteered to do much of the chauffering.
As it turned out, Reilly could have used a social secretary, as he double-booked himself more than once. Of course, if he had included me in the planning a bit more, I might have headed off some of the scheduling problems. But, in the end, it all worked out. He accomplished everything on his agenda, even hosting a friend from NYIT for a couple of days.
My chats with Reilly, his friends and their mothers are helping me see growth and hopeful glimmers of future. All the boys are making progress, though certainly challenges remain. They are enjoying classes that are, for the most part, useful. They're learning, albeit slowly, to be independent. They're getting some job skills. Alex is learning to cook. Demba is learning public transportation. Matthew was finally able to move into the dorm. Reilly got himself a summer job! He set his sights on a front desk position at our community pool, downloaded the application, filled it out and emailed it to the manager, following up to make sure it was received. He came home for break with the news that he got the job. Shortly before spring break, I got an email from school saying a new independent living counselor had been hired and he's working with Reilly on grooming issues (yaaaaay!).
A new, or budding, confidence is visible in each of the boys. At dinner last night, Reilly told us he's proud of himself for being able to do “college.” The moms and I agree; we feel lucky to have the means to send our boys to these programs. But what of others less fortunate? And will the programs lead to useful jobs and lives of purpose for our sons? We don't know yet, but for now, it's OK. A couple of years ago, we couldn't have pictured our boys where they are now.
This is what hope looks like.