Thursday, August 30, 2018

Writing with a gentle grasp....

I'm not a hundred percent certain I want to type yet. I don't want to disrupt the flow, or ask for trouble, or jinx anything, not anything at all.

And it is not that I am superstitious. I'm not. But I do know that pride can be the downfall of many a successful plan. Oh, I don't want to appear proud.

But I want to praise. I want to give praise. I want to shout my praise.

Benjamin has been on campus since Sunday and four nights in, all is well. Maybe not yet terrific. But minus a couple of hurdles, he is making it and even enjoying some of the late evening campus activities that he has never been able to participate in before....

There was a time when I would proudly proclaim my opinions to anyone who would listen -- part of the college experience is living on campus. I was adamant that a huge part of the education college kids receive happens in the dormitories as they learn to navigate the differences of the students all around them.

I lived in university housing at Mississippi State University for three years and deeply regret I didn't continue on campus for my fourth year. I had the privilege of working as a resident assistant for one of those years.

When Wade went to medical school, we worked as resident heads (dorm parents) for an undergrad dorm at the University of Chicago. The triplets were literally born into campus housing life. We ate meals with our students in the hall cafeteria. I clipped little chairs to the big circular table and our earliest family meals included three teeny tiny babies and a table full of brilliant college kids.

So, I am not kidding when I say I LOVE on-campus housing.

But a few years ago, I realized I should turn my opinion-volume to low. I should stop proclaiming how integral ON campus living was to the college experience because frankly I didn't think it could happen for Benjamin.

Mason has been on campus all four years -- as a matter of fact he is serving as an RA in his dorm for the third year in a row.

Claire has been on campus -- this year she is technically across the street from campus in an apartment, but it is still university-owned housing.

But Benjamin lived at home for the first three years. His freshman year, we didn't have a choice. The existing men's dorm was not accessible and he didn't have a staff of personal care attendants yet. Home was his only option. And really, being on campus and navigating classes, buildings, etc was a huge change for him. It was ok that he came home at night.

By sophomore year, we were so proud of the system that we didn't hesitate to continue doing what we had already done the year before -- except now, with some help from personal care attendants.

By junior year, we knew the new apartment had an accessible room but neither of us were too eager to discuss it. Dad however, began to talk about the opportunity to try independent living on campus. Dad began to plant the seed in both our minds.

And so, we jumped the hoops, made the calls, did all the leg work -- and met some amazing people along the way -- and this year, Benjamin is living on campus. He had an elevator snafu his full day living there and injured his foot painfully. But he kept going. He has been to several events on campus. He has learned to navigate for meals, for studies, and to all his classes. And he has faithfully called to let me know he is ok.

As for me, I am sleeping for the first time in 21 years in my bed without hearing him breathe over the intercom system he uses at home to communicate with me from bed. Rest assured I am still listening. But I can not hear him from here. I fret about his hair looking good. And I worry that no one is checking his posture in his wheelchair. I worry about this and that and the other and really just need to lay down my need to be the only one who can get his care right. It isn't true.

We are four days in. And I must say, I am hopeful for tomorrow.

Image may contain: Benjamin Shrader, sitting and indoor

Carol - The Blessings Counter


Margot Cole said...

Hi, this is a lovely post. I'm so glad everybody is enjoying their college experience. I loved college but preferred off campus living so I could more easily keep up my pre college social life and not have any accessibility problems. I wrote a film about my college experience called "A Stroke Of Endurance" that may interest all of you which you can watch for free here