Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 31: Where we are today (and…I DID IT!)

Want to read the beginning of Benji’s Story? Click here for all posts in this series.

Yesterday the boys brought home their first 9 week report cards.

I have been in close contact with Benji’s teachers since the first day of school so I knew how he was doing, but still….

…it was immensely satisfying to see E (Excellent) and M (Meets Expectations) listed on his report card (one I [improving] for handwriting. We’re getting there).

This is such a change from last year when U for Unsuccessful filled report card after report card. BiggerButton

The interventions are working.

Each day, Benji works with a team of professionals at school:
Daily with his amazing homeroom teacher and special education teacher, both of whom I love and respect.
Twice a week with a speech therapist.
Once a week (starting soon!) with an Occupational Therapist (I just had a meeting last week to add this resource to his IEP–it’s a constant work in progress).

Throughout the summer we met with his team to carefully put together a comprehensive plan for his education. Aaron and I were a huge part of the process; after all, we know our son the best.

I was so apprehensive to start this school year, terrified that we had made the wrong decision, that all our well-laid plans wouldn’t work.

And let’s face it, some of the plans haven’t worked. We’ve had to adjust, make new plans, try new things.
There have been many phone calls home.
There have been lots of face to face conversations  at school.

But we’re doing it.
He’s doing it.

The Child Study and everything it involved was intensely difficult.
But it was worth it.

________________________________

So what’s next for us?

We need to tackle the ASD issues head on. We have a few more evaluations to do, and he will be starting therapy soon.

While Benji is doing great in school, he tends to fall apart once he gets home. I think it’s because he tries so hard during the day and then his brave resolve dissolves at the end of the school day, bless his heart.

However, this means that we usually have a really difficult time after school. In recent weeks, I have been in tears after homework time almost every single day.

It’s hard.

Right now, one of my biggest challenges (aside from, umm…everything else…) is figuring out how to just let him be a kid in the middle of all this testing, evaluations, therapies, homework, and appointments.

I mean, really–how do I do that?

It’s hard.

There are so many things that are hard.

But do you know what? I have this phrase I use with my boys (and sometimes my students): “You can do hard things.”

And I need to start using it more with myself.

I can do hard things.
I can do hard things.
I can do hard things.

Let’s do this.

____________________________________________

What a month! What a journey!

By writing Benji’s Story, I was able to really process what we went though this past year; I also learned so much about writing, about blogging, and about myself.

Can I just take a moment and Celebrate??? I DID IT! I did Write31Days!!!!! YEA!!!!!!!!

Celebrate BenjiAnd now I need a massive break.

Thank you all for reading and for offering so many comments, messages, and encouragement to me throughout this month!!

My hope and prayer is that, whatever you are going through, our story has encouraged you to love the people in your life more fully, to be the best person you can be in your unique family situation, and to know that you, too, can do hard things.

Thank you for reading Benji’s Story.

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Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 30: A New Journey: Our ASD Diagnosis

Miss a post of Benji’s Story? Catch up here!

I wasn’t planning on writing this post during this month, primarily because I didn’t think we would know what we found out this week. Yes, I know. #cryptic.
Let me back up a bit.

During Benji’s Child Study (and for months and years before we started this process) Aaron and I had a niggling suspicion that went like this: “I wonder…if he has autism.”

When I wrote this post, I briefly alluded to my suspicions about autism. In moments of doubt, I would do a few days of frantic research, reading lists of symptoms, but always dismiss my fears. BiggerButton

And I don’t say “fears” lightly. I was deeply afraid of turning over that stone. I didn’t know what I would find, and I was afraid.

But through this last year–the research, the learning challenges, the sensory issues, the Child Study–the pieces started to fall into place, but the picture was incomplete.

We kept wondering.

Even the members of our Child Study team, those wonderful teachers and professionals that had spent hours teaching him, observing him, and testing him, said, “Hmm…do you think…?”

And we said, “Maybe. We see it too.”

We saw the obsessions about certain topics that he would talk about endlessly and repetitively  (dragons, transformers, Turbo, or whatever it was that month)
We saw his difficulty with two-way communication.
We saw his struggles to make friends that went far beyond shyness or social awkwardness
We saw his sensory issues (which I knew 80% of children with autism exhibit, though not all children who have SPD are autistic)

So instead of living in the doubt and fear anymore (because those questions will make you crazy), in July, we decided to officially test him for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).

I talked to my pediatrician and he made referrals for us.

I could write a really long post this process, but I won’t today.

The important thing is the results: On Monday this week, the day I wrote this post, Benji was officially diagnosed with ASD.

“He’s high functioning,” the doctor said. “But, there are definitely some challenges that we need to address.”

I nodded, absorbing this news, wondering if my face looked as shell-shocked as I felt. I tried to form the most logical question I could, under the circumstances.

“So, what’s next?”

And we talked about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Occupational Therapy, appointments and testing, about forming new pathways in the brain, all while my 8 year old son sat at my feet on the rug, lining up plastic farm animals beside a red wooden barn, listening.

As expected as this news was, the grief that hit me in the aftermath was swift, fierce, and deep.

I have not been okay this week.

In fact, I had an emotional breakdown yesterday in the mall parking lot and my husband took off most of the day at work to come home and be with me.

I spent all afternoon in bed.

So, why am I telling you this? For this reason: to let you know that other people fall apart.
I fell apart this week.
I have cried a lot.
I have been angry, sad, confused, and wanted to lay down and just quit.

But I can’t quit.
So I took a nap instead.

And then, after my nap yesterday, I felt a little better.
So I got up.

I made breakfast burritos for my family for dinner.
I graded some papers and prepared my lectures for my on-campus classes.
I listened to Micah read and I nursed Eli.
I chatted with some friends on facebook and texted my sister about my crazy day.
I talked and laughed with my amazing husband after our kids went to bed.

I may not be “fine” this week but I will be.

This grief, as much as it has griped my body and soul this week, will pass, and I will find a new strength for this new journey.
IMG_4432
I have to, because Benji needs me.

Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 29: Getting Answers: The Child Study, The Decision

Want to read Benji’s Story from the beginning? Click here!

“Do you want my opinion?”

I glanced up at the honest abruptness of her question. We were standing in the shade by a large field. She was filling small paper cups with water for sweaty, smiling children.

It was Field Day.

“Yes, please,” I told the principal. BiggerButton

“I think you should move him to 2nd grade. Academics? We can work on that.” She paused to give a kindergartner a high five. “But holding him back? Living in the shadow of your twin brother who will always be ahead of you in school? That’s not something you recover from.”

I nodded, taking it all in. She was echoing everything Aaron and I had been discussing for weeks.

On one hand, I didn’t know if Benji was academically ready for 2nd grade. He could not read. He struggled with handwriting, spelling, and math. I didn’t want his already broken confidence to be shattered even more by the demands of 2nd grade.

But my heart was broken by the alternative when I looked into the future. What about when Micah went to middle school and Benji was still in Elementary school? Or graduation day…I imagined Benji standing in the audience as Micah crossed the stage to receive his diploma.

The image was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

They already felt the pressure of comparison. We didn’t want to create more of a wedge in their special twin relationship.

No, academics aside, it was essential to preserve their relationship as brothers, as twins.

That was sacred.

So we knew which way we were leaning, but we held off making a decision until the Child Study results meeting on June 24.

Have I mentioned that the waiting almost killed me during this process? It bears repeating.
The waiting was horrible. Honestly, I can’t think of a strong enough word.
It was really bad.

I needed to know the results of the Child Study NOW.

Surprisingly, a few days before our Eligibility Meeting, the special education teacher called and said she had his results: Would I like her to bring them by the house?

Yes, yes please.

And then I had it–a fat manila envelop full of papers: The test results.

Ironically, I had to wait until nap time that day to tear into it. #ThatsMotherhood

I read, paper after paper, test after test.
I devoured each word.
Twice.

I was ready for the Eligibility Meeting.
The results were pretty clear: His abilities (average to above average) did not match with his school performance (below average).

At the meeting, we learned that his official diagnosis was Language Processing Learning Disability.
He would qualify for Special Education Services.

We spent the next 2 hours discussing the details of the tests.

It was such a relief.
And it made our second decision so much easier.

Since Benji would get services that addressed his unique learning needs in the coming year, we officially made the decision to move him to 2nd grade.

IMG_4419Do you know what was the most interesting part of finally finding out the results of all those months of testing?

Those results, the ones I was so anxious about? They didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know (minus 1-2 interesting things he said on a particular test).

The contents of that manila envelope and the whole Eligibility Meeting simply confirmed everything I already knew about my son.

I already knew every facet, every quirk, every struggle, every learning challenge, every self-esteem issue that the tests revealed.

I knew…because I know my child.
I was right: He needed help.
I did that.
And I felt like a damn fine mother in that moment.

Posted in Benji's Story, Recipes, Write31Days

Day 28: The way to his heart is through his stomach

Want to catch up on Benji’s Story? Start here!

Earlier this fall, I was a part of a panel for an organization called “The Motherhood Collective.” The discussion that day was “How we eat.”
As a panel of 4-5 women, we talked about how our families eat, how we meal plan, and what food means to us to guide a larger discussion for the whole meeting that day.

One of the questions was: “What is your favorite meal to make?”

I personally don’t have a favorite, but I do really like cooking meals that make people happy.

And there is a little boy in my family that I struggle to find a happy connection with…but making his favorite foods is one way that I can consistently please him.

This is how I answered that question:

Lately, I have found a lot of joy in making Benji’s favorite meals because it’s a way for me to connect with him. He expresses a lot of love and enthusiasm for his favorite foods and it is one of the only ways that I feel that we have a mutual connection right now. (writing that down makes me kind of sad, but if I can reach that boy’s heart through this stomach then….I’m gonna do it!)

I often throw out lines of love to him but I fail. I feel confused, not knowing how to reach his heart or connect to him.

But when I make his favorite meals, I know he feels loved.

When I tell him that I am making Cheeseburger soup, or Chicken Broccoli and Rice Casserole, or Breakfast Burritos (see recipe below!), he does a little happy dance.
He grins and make his signature happy slurp noise, his taste buds already salivating.

And I feel loved because I know that he is happy, even if he never says, “Mom, thanks for making my favorite foods.” (Because he doesn’t).

SeekingRelationship2I know that food is a line of love that consistently  catches his heart and draws him to me.

The way to that boy’s heart is through his stomach.
And that makes us both happy.

Here’s one of his favorite meals (great for breakfast or dinner!):

Benji’s Breakfast Burritos
Ingredients:
Burrito size flour tortillas
Eggs +milk
Bulk breakfast sausage
Shredded Cheese (I like casserole or Mexican blend cheese)
Salsa (optional)

Make it:
Preheat oven to 400.
Make scrambled eggs (1 egg per burrito), your favorite way. I like to season our eggs with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, and a pinch of mustard powder.
Cook sausage until brown. Drain fat.
Warm tortillas in the microwave until soft.
Add eggs, sausage, and shredded cheese to each tortilla. Fold and roll tortilla around egg/sausage mixture, tucking in both ends. Repeat.
Eat immediately OR place burritos in a casserole dish, cover tightly with foil, and warm for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Serve with salsa.

Slurp!

Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 27: Threads of Love: When you want to walk away…and how to come back

Want to read Benji’s Story from the beginning? Start here!

When I think about relationships, I imagine all these invisible threads that tie me to the people I love.
Time well spent
Laughter
Inside Jokes
Making memories
Talking and sharing our thoughts
Actively listening
Celebrating
Apologizing and forgiving each other
Accomplishing goals together
Growing and learning and being

….these things are the stuff of strong relationshipsBiggerButton

These lines of love bind us to our friends and family and the more lines we throw out, the stronger the relationship gets.

In theory.

In theory, when we cast out a line, it will catch and hold, twisting together with other threads of the relationship, making the connection stronger, tighter, unbreakable.

But what happens when you cast out lines of relationship and they don’t catch? When you want connection more than anything but your efforts fall short?

It was a few days after Celebrate Benji Day. The day had been a huge success but it had taken a lot of effort. The meals he chose for breakfast, lunch, and dinner were so time consuming that I cooked for several hours the day before so that they would be ready in the morning before we went to the lake, and after our day of swimming and boating when we came home.

Benji and Micah were discussing what each family member would do on his or her Special Day.
What would Micah want to eat for dinner?
What would Silas want to do?

Then Benji said, “I know what Mom would want to do on her Special Day.”
I was curious and pleased. “What?”
“Nothing. Mom wouldn’t want to do anything fun because she is no fun and never does anything fun.”

Snap
Snap
Snap

Just like that, all the threads of relationship that I had cast out in the past few weeks broke.

His words hurt me deeply. I was actually surprised that they did because, let’s face it, kids say hurtful things to their parents all the time (at least mine do). I have a pretty tough skin, and their little nasty-ism usually roll right off.

But I was tired. It had been a long day and we were eating a late dinner.

What’s more, I was exhausted in my efforts in trying to love him:
Learning how to hug him (and getting pushed away 80-90% of the time)
The lack of meaningful connection through communication
The emotional toll of the Child Study
My efforts to shower him with attention and love on his Special DaySeekingRelationship2It all came to a head at that moment, with the simple phrase that “Mom never does anything fun.”

My face crumpled and I started to cry.

“Do you know what?! I do so much for you–I do so much and you don’t even know! I try, and I try to love you but it’s not enough. It’s never enough!”

I slammed my hands down on the kitchen table, pushed myself to my feet, and walked away.

And I was ashamed. I was so deeply ashamed of my outburst, of my anger, of my own wretched selfishness.
But the threads, those precious few threads that held us together in tenuous relationship, were completely snapped.

I had nothing left inside of me to pull me back to my son in that moment.

But Aaron did. He called me back to come sit down and I did.
…because more than I wanted to be right, or yell, or slam doors, or lick my own throbbing wounds, I wanted, craved connection with Benji.

And I tried.
I tried so hard that evening to talk to him. I told him I was sorry and asked for his forgiveness. I told him that Mommy is a person too and that he hurt my feelings and I wanted him to be kind.
I cast line after line of love towards him.

But they didn’t catch.
My efforts failed that night and when he went to bed, we were still disconnected.

And I wept many, many hurt and angry tears while my husband listened to me and comforted me.

But when the tears passed, a quiet strength filled the void of the dissipated pain.

I wanted to walk away.
In fact, I did.
It was the first time I had ever done that. And honestly, it will probably not be the last time I will feel that way or even act that way.

But I came back.

Because I am a mother.
I am his mother and he is my son.
And in my deepest heart of hearts, I want connection. I want to return again and again to the root of our love: our mother and son relationship.

Because being a mother means seeking the heart of your child, committing to connection in the middle of pain, and casting lines of love
over
and over
and over again.

And, do you know what? After a good night’s rest and a belly full of breakfast, he threw his arms around my middle in his wild, unpredictable way and said, “Mom? I love you!”

A single thread of love.

It was enough.

Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 26: Rooting out Expectations

Miss a post from Benji’s Story? Catch up here!

Before I had kids, I used to imagine what it was like to be a mom. My daydreams were always filled with images of me cooking, reading, laughing, and talking…to my daughters.

Having boys was a shock to me. Until my twins were about 5, I was at a complete loss: What do I do with these strange boy-creatures?
I didn’t know what they needed, wanted, how their minds worked, or what their little bodies needed (turns out, mostly food, exercise, hugs, and someone listen to them talk about Star Wars). BiggerButton

Then I had two more boy-creatures. And I just threw up my hands, laughed and said, “Well, I know how this goes!”

I couldn’t always laugh though. I went through some dark, confusing years as a young mom. I couldn’t understand my children, or what they needed or how I, as their mother, could meet those needs. Their tiny male minds and bodies baffled me.

Having boys what not what I expected. And I had to come to grips with my expectations and let them go in order to fully love and enjoy the children that God had given me.

We expect our kids to be like us–to like the same things we did when we were kids, to have similar abilities in sports or academics–to be little mini-me’s.

My husband was identified as gifted as a child. School was always easy for him–in fact, he was bored through most of his formal schooling. He never had to do homework; he never had to study.

He slept through his entire semester of biology and still got a 4 out of 5 on the AP Biology Exam.

He expected that his sons would follow in his footsteps (not in the sleeping, just the smarts).

Expectations are hard to root out.

And we have struggled.
…struggled with our disappointments.
…struggled with our guilt at being disappointed.
…struggled with our expectations.
…struggled to seek, understand, love, and accept the child we have.

There’s a grief in that. And that grief is painful.

But it’s pride that’s wounded.
Isn’t that what expectations are? Puffed up daydreams of what we hope our lives will look like?

Our expectations had to be rooted out of our hearts in order for true love and acceptance of our child to flourish.

Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 25: One Week Left

Miss a post from Benji’s Story? Start here!

Well, it’s Sunday, ya’ll–it’s time for a Diary post.
I am getting predictable.
(Actually I’ve discovered a lot of patterns about myself, my blog, my writing, etc. through doing this challenge).

I have been grading my life away this week and today the pressure was on–I graded 18 research papers today and was an absolute grump. Thank God for my understanding and patient husband.

My tendinitis is screaming at me.
My brain is throbbing.
I have 5 papers left to grade before my 4:30pm deadline tomorrow and then this term is OVER OVER OVER.
Thank God to the Heavens and then back again. It has been rough (or “ruff” as one of my students wrote in a paper today. #truestory).

This is the last week for Write 31 Days.
Wow.
I can’t believe the month is almost up.
It went fast.

Here is what to expect in the final week of Benji’s Story:

SeekingRelationship2

Plus–
What the Child Study ultimately revealed…
What we finally decided to do about retention or promotion….
And where we are today. 🙂

Thank you all for reading! I look forward to sharing this last week with you.

Miss yesterday’s post about “Labels”? Click here!

Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 24: Just give us a label already!

I remember when I got glasses when I was 8 years old. I walked outside and was amazed–the trees actually had leaves!
I could finally see. BiggerButton

Twenty (plus) years have passed since that day, and I need my glasses now more than ever.
Sometime I think about all the things I wouldn’t be able to do if I didn’t have my glasses.
I wouldn’t be able to drive, ever.
I wouldn’t be able to read without holding a book about 4 inches from my face.
I wouldn’t be able to cook safely.
I wouldn’t be able to clearly see my children’s smiles from across the kitchen table.
I wouldn’t be able to teach online…or in a classroom.
I wouldn’t be able to sew…or write…or do so many things I enjoy, love, and need to do.

The day the eye doctor said, “You’re nearsighted” was a life-changing moment–for the better.

This news didn’t make me nearsighted–my vision was already blurred and strained before the optometrist ever made a diagnosis.
But after I was labeled “Nearsighted,” then I was able to get glasses,  the prescription I needed to be able to live a full and complete life.

I’m not ashamed of people seeing my glasses. In fact, I think they’re pretty cute. 100_3469They are part of what makes me, me!
And my bad eyesight isn’t going anywhere. Barring any expensive and invasive surgery in the future, I will need glasses for the rest of my life.

At one time, I was terrified of applying any type of label to my son.

But once I started asking questions and seeking answers, I pretty much didn’t care one flip about labels.

But not everybody feels that way.

We had friends and loved ones who were concerned about labels for our son.
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“You know they just slap labels on kids and then they are stuck with them for the rest of their lives!”
“Special education?”
“Once a child has a label, people only see them a certain way from then on.”

I know these concerns were born out of love, so I don’t fault those whose questions came from this place in their hearts.

But I got to the place where all I wanted was a label.

Please, someone, anyone…tell me how to help my child.

Without the label, we were just frustrated, in the dark…our vision was blurred.

A label wouldn’t make him struggle. He was already struggling.

A label simply gives a name to the problem.
And with a name, we could move forward, instead of being stuck.
We could apply a prescription, a solution, and help my son live a full and more complete life.

School was out for the summer.
But our Child Study was still in the 60 day time frame.
The results of the study would be revealed in a meeting on June 24.
I still had to wait.

I had a million questions but I knew that one answer would solve a lot of the problems for my son: I just wanted a label already.

Why are we so afraid of labels?
Have you ever been afraid of labels for yourself or your child?
How has getting a label helped bring clarity and insight into your child’s struggles and challenges?

Posted in Benji's Story, Write31Days

Day 23: Failure, Comparison, and Choosing Joy

Simple questions, like “How are you?” became irritatingly complicated to answer in the coming days.

Sometimes I lied, and said “Fine.”

Sometimes I told a bit of the truth: “We’re going through a hard time right now.” BiggerButton

I had a few friends that I was really honest with on hard days, like when my facebook feed was filled with end of school celebrations, where parents sang the praises of their children’s all-A report cards and high test scores.

I usually have great perspective on celebrations–I love to see and congratulate the success of others.
But my pain was new and my wounds were raw.
I had just found out that my son failed first grade and the Facebook posts hurt.

On June 2 I wrote this message to my friend, Debbie:

I peruse facebook and a homeschool mom friend shares about how she just got her test scores back for her kids and both of them scored above or at grade level. And her daughter has autism! I am so happy for her! Then I feel like an absolute failure because my son failed first grade and I wonder what I did wrong and what I could have done differently. In my head I know it’s not my fault (or maybe I don’t) but it sure feels that way.

I logically knew that my child’s failure was not my failure as a mother, but my child’s pain was my pain, so it was all wrapped up together and, honestly, it felt like the same thing.

My friend was able to soothe and comfort me, reminding me of that comparison is the thief of joy. Yeah…you think I would have learned that lesson when I taught it to my kids a few weeks earlier.

My wounds started to heal a bit.

But a few days later, at the end of school awards ceremony, the scab got ripped off again.

I sent another message to Debbie:

Struggling today. I went to the end of school awards ceremony. Micah got an award and Benji didn’t. It is such a small thing, but it seems like such a symbolic reminder of the whole year as well.

I was crushed for him. I have never been one of those parents who thinks everyone deserves a trophy but damn it I wanted my kid to get a trophy that day.

But he didn’t. And it was hard, both for me and for him.

I watched his face when his classmates got awards and I saw him hang his head  when they moved on to the next class.

Then Micah’s name was called. I braced myself for Benji’s reaction.

I didn’t need to worry.

I watched Benji’s face light up with genuine joy. He smiled and clapped his hands and my heart almost couldn’t hold the weight and beauty of that moment.

Debbie gave me some more good advice that day. She shared a story about how, when she was in college, she and her roommates orchestrated a “Celebrate Debbie Day” or “Celebrate Makaela Day” to help each other get through the stress of finals week.

So, I said “Screw Awards Ceremony!” The Mengs declared a family holiday–Celebrate Benji Day!

IMG_4419
Love my boy

Benji got to choose a day that was all about him: the menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and a special activity (swimming!). It was a day all about him, which is pretty special for any kid, and especially for a kid who is a twin and had never even had a birthday to himself.

Despite all the bad news, the failure, the stupid award ceremony, all the stress, and struggle, and painful comparisons– we were going to choose joy.

Posted in Benji's Story, twins, Write31Days

Day 22: The Twin Factor: An Impossible Decision

Want to read Benji’s Story from the beginning? Click here!

Today’s post picks up where Day 12 left off….

The school year was coming to an end. “Anxious” was one word to describe how I felt–a nice, mild word.
My mind was spinning with questions, day and night: BiggerButton
What will the results of the Child Study reveal?
Will Benji qualify for Special Education Services?
Is Benji going to pass first grade?

That last question tied my gut in knots on a daily basis. When Benji’s teacher finally set up a meeting with us near the end of May, I was jittery with anticipation. But I was dreading the conversation.

In my heart, I think I knew the answer.

I was thankful that the principal joined us for the meeting. She had been a wise and thoughtful advocate for Benji, and for Aaron and me as parents, throughout this whole process.

We sat in tiny plastic chairs beside a kid-sized table. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland–I had fallen down the wrong rabbit hole and was in a strange world, in a situation that felt too big to handle.

We talked a long time about test scores, academic progress, intervention strategies that we tried that year; there were papers, graphs, data analysis.

Usually the talker, I was quiet for most of this meeting, my heart thudding.

Finally, the results:

“We are recommending that he be retained in first grade next year.”

And there it was: The Answer.

…but with a catch.

The principal raised her eyebrows at us, looking over the tops of her glasses. “We don’t do this for many students, but we are going to let you, as the parents, decide whether or not to retain him or promote him to 2nd grade.”

“Because he’s a twin?” Aaron asked.TheTwinFactor

She nodded, “Because he’s a twin.”

Then she added: “I’ve seen some interesting scenarios over the years, with twins. Just a few years ago, we had a twin girls, identical.

“One was struggling and needed to be held back. Then the next school year her sister, who was not struggling the year before, had her worst school year ever. And then she needed to be held back. Really interesting…”

I found my voice. “What do you think it was?”

She pressed her lips together and shook her head slightly. “I’m not sure. But if I was to guess, I would say it was something like…grief.”

The word hovered in the air and I absorbed it, fully, to my  heart and soul.

We had the answer we so desperately wanted–but now we had even more questions, and not just about Benji. 100_4729What about Micah?
If we hold Benji back, what will this mean for his brother?
If we promote Benji to 2nd grade, will he struggle even more to keep up?

What are we going to do?

It felt like an impossible decision.