This opportunity to do a person-centred plan fits in perfectly with our plans to try to sort out the miasma of a mess that life after school is turning into. We are feeling stumped by what comes next. The field is either wide open, or infinitely narrow, depending on your point of view. Jessie jumps from wanting to go to college or university, to wanting a job, to wanting to be an actor for the Disney channel. On Friday, she wrote:
“I would love to be a writer and a director. I want to be able to learn about behind the scenes and to learn new skills and to meet new people. It would be hard work, but I am willing and able to work and do the best I can. I’ll work hard. I will believe in myself, do the best I can and I want my voice to be heard. I am determined and I will be self-driven, but I would need lots of help and support from my friends and family.”
And then yesterday:
“I would like to pursue my acting and my dancing. I want to be motivated, self-driven, and dedicated to my work. I want to do something in my life. I want to change the world with my acting and dancing. I would like to take more acting classes and more dance classes in order to climb the high mountain to my dream. I want to combine these two elements together so I can audition for the TV show Glee.”
There is a part of me that knows, from past experience, to trust in the process—to always keep Jessie out there in the community doing what she loves and to be mindful of the opportunities that arise and coalesce to create a rich, challenging, “now.” That’s on my good days. When I have gone to church AND meditated.
On my bad days, well, on my bad days, I am afraid to admit, I alternate between making random panic-stricken unintelligible phone calls to programs/supports/schools/people and going back to bed and pulling the covers over my head. Oh, and I talk really fast so it sounds like I know what we are doing. I’m afraid that’s what I did when I met with Sophie for tea the other day. When she asked me what we (Dan and I) thought were the biggest roadblocks to Jessie heading toward her dreams I think I spewed a breathless monologue that went something like this: sheforgetseverythingandisveryimpulsive and nevergetsoutthedoorontime and wouldrathershakeashakerthanfinishalessonplan and oh myatherdaycareworkplacement shefoughtwithathreeyearoldoveratoy and Iamnotherbestteacherandshe . . .
To Sophie’s credit, she did not scurry away mumbling “OMD (or Oh Mon Dieu ... since we live in a bilingual country) what have I got myself into, this family needs a therapist not a planner!” She actually sat and listened and then redirected me without me even noticing it so we got back on the isn’t-Jessie-wonderful track where she, in her subtle way, refocused me on Jessie’s strengths and passions. (Did I mention that Sophie is a trained social worker?)
You see, while I am sometimes Jessie’s best advocate, I am also her worst nightmare: a babbling gray-haired, middle-aged Mom tired of reminding cats and other household inhabitants that the litter needs to stay IN the box (or the clothes in the laundry basket or the used pads in the garbage or the … well, you get the picture).
And I have to admit that, at times, oftimes, I descend into a fearful diatribe that includes “If you don’t get a handle on [insert task], you will end up in a GROUP HOME!!” Group home, in our house, being synonymous with hell. Jessie has learned to include this little tidbit in her own comebacks stomping up the stairs saying: “I am NOT going to [do my laundry, have a shower, brush my hair, insert any other task of choice]. I don’t care WHAT you say; I am NOT going to live in a GROUP home.” Lovely. I am not proud to admit this part; but I figure it should make any of you reading this feel much better about your own parenting skills because I doubt you have ever sunk quite so low.
Yet, just at the nadir of my fear and loathing about the future, Sophie was dropped into our lives. A bright, colourful, whimsical pregnant bundle of positive energy that immediately transformed our petty bickering into a joyful and exciting exploration of Jessie’s gifts, strengths, and passions.
Okay. That’s a bit over the top. But Sophie is like when, in the deepest darkest of winter you suddenly realize that the sun is coming up a wee bit earlier and setting a wee bit later and that you are actually aware of the sun—during the day, not just as a distant memory—and that it actually might, at some point in the future, warm your skin and even entice purple crocuses and yellow daffodils from the frozen ground.
So Sophie is just that little bit of hope that makes it easier to wake up in the morning and to feel that things can and will continue to grow. Everybody needs a Sophie, even just for a day!