Every parent has aspirations and dreams for their children, spoken or otherwise.
I’m no exception.
What is an exception though is the stuff I hope for when it comes to Caleb. The majority of the world of parents with neurotypical kids can more than reasonably hope for their offsprings to grow up strong, smart, independent, married, and materially successful.
Those aspirations, however, look a whole lot different for the rest of us with our special kids.
Now I know I’m not alone, and there are parents out there like Cammie McGovern and others, who have far more challenging circumstances than I.
So I take nothing for granted and recognize that time is of the essence. I also recognize that at the end of the day, there’s only so much I can do. The outcome is still very much in the hands of Caleb’s Maker and Creator.
As such, since a year and a half ago, I began to make a list of areas I hope to see Caleb gain better control and mastery over. Each night after he and his brother fall fast asleep, I would enter their bedroom, listen, and watch closely to ensure that they are breathing easy and blissfully oblivious to my presence. Then I would lay my hand on first one, and then the other, of their tranquil frames to pray for them.
(Call me paranoid if you must, but I just think the prayers work better if my kids don’t know about it!)
For Caleb, these are the 7 areas I commit to the Lord, one for every day of the week:
For the first day of the week, I would pray for his fine motor skills. That he can write clearly, color well within boundaries, copy sentences accurately, and fill in simple personal particulars like his name and class. (His fine motor skills have always been hampered by the delayed muscle development of his fingers and hands)
On the second day, I switch over to pray for his gross motor skills. My dear boy hasn’t always felt confident or even aware of what wonderful leaps and bounds the human body is capable of. As a result, for most of his life, he’s been fearful of playground obstacles, and unwilling to test the limits of what his body and limbs can do. Things like hopping, skipping, jumping, and running. Not forgetting throwing, catching, bouncing, and kicking. And don’t even get me started on climbing ladders, stairs and structures, and riding the bicycle!
Midweek, I would pray for Caleb’s adaptive areas. My nine year old still wears a diaper to bed each night, and he carries out his bathing and toilette functions supervised by at least one adult. He still needs help buttoning some of his shirts, and just dressing in general. His washing & self-grooming skills, brushing-teeth skills, and cleaning-up-after-meal skills are all still works in (agonisingly-slow) progress.
Come Day 4 of the week, I pray for his cognitive areas. Here I’m looking a little further into the future, and hoping for his play and money skills to be groomed, as well as his math concepts to be cultivated. I also hope for his language, problem-solving skills, as well as his ability for recalling events to be sharpened.
On this day, I pray for Caleb’s social communication areas. I ask God for Caleb to (at least) follow three-step instructions and inform as well as make comments effectively. I pray he adheres to conversational rules, establishes appropriate social-communication roles, asks and answers questions well, all the while holding good, reciprocal conversations with everyone.
Whew! Looking back on what I just wrote, it suddenly dawns on me what a huge load I’m placing on God’s shoulders for Caleb’s development! But thank goodness our God is more than able.
So let’s go on…
As the weekend begins, I pray for Caleb’s social areas, asking God to help him manage emotions well, play cooperatively with peers, be aware of himself in relation to others, and participate joyfully and meaningfully in large social groups.
Last but not least, I will end the week by praying for Caleb (and his brother) to always honor, love, and cherish Jesus; and us their parents. (In that order)
For now, these seven areas capture my hopes and aspirations for my little one, who’s not going to stay so much longer. Of course, I’m not so naive as to expect all of them to be answered in one fell swoop. Or even for every one of them to be fully and completely answered to my satisfaction.
But hey, I’m a parent so hopes I will always have right? Plus, I’ve seen progress in him these past 18 months since I started praying, so my hope springeth ever eternal!
In any case, these nightly prayers are how I choose to end off each day I get to spend with him and to love him.
And perhaps most importantly, these prayers remind me that I can “plant and water”, but only God can bring about the transformation and growth I desire for Caleb.
So when a day has been exceptionally trying, these nightly reminders are just what I need to anchor me and my aspirations and hopes for him.
And for his future.