|Who needs a dog-pile when you can have a Dom-pile?|
There is a war going on in my head about my last post, "A school for Dominic." My left brain argues this school would be so great. It would let him be around his peers, allow him to experience care from other caring people, get him hooked into the community for the profoundly disabled. My right brain says: "so what." Which brings me to the ever present argument all parents have with themselves: am I doing the right thing for my child, both NOW and in 20 years?
The other day my kids and I ate at a pizza place with a good friend. While we were there clients and care takers from the state school (group home for the disabled) walked in. I suddenly felt flush and nauseated. "Oh my God, Dominic will grow up... and be like these people." Suddenly shame rose in my throat for being adverse to these people. Aren't these people the ones I've been given a passion for? Aren't these people the face of God in this backwards world? I was struck motionless, staring, scared. I realized Dominic may just survive, may make it to 50. Then what? What will we do then!?
I turned to my friend who has grown up with caring parents who both worked with people who have disabilities throughout her childhood and lamented about this situation. Somewhat beginning to panic, she calmly told me Dominic wasn't going to be institutionalized. We would care for him, it would all work out for the best. I discretely observed as the clients and the workers sat down, got their pizza and ate. The workers said nothing to the clients outside of what was necessary. They sat at the table either silent, talking to other workers, or looking on their phone. I literally had to hold onto the table to prevent myself from getting up and yelling at them to interact with the HUMANS they are sitting with, not their phones. The initial fear I felt was replaced with anger, repulsion, and a certain sense of protection for the clients. Using all my will-power, I held back from grabbing their phones and throwing them through the window. If you want to ignore the people you are eating with by living your virtual life, fine; but don't do it to people who can not ignore you back. They sat in silence and ate. No warmth, no conversation. Alone in a group.
This brings me back to my original point. Would placing him in the school I spoke about in my last post just be entering him into the system? Would I grow accustom to not caring for him, letting him be someone else's responsibility, someone else's problem, and make the decision when he becomes an adult to put him in a group home easier? Is the school the best for him? What goals do we expect from him when he becomes an adult? Can not his parents, who would die for him this very instant, not do a better job in educating him in what he needs to know to be as independent and successful as possible in his adult years?
Dominic likes two things: being around his family and going to mass. Can he not learn all he needs by doing these two things faithfully and well? As a wise man often tells me, we don't have to make every decision right now, we have time. A group home may be totally appropriate and the best decision for some people, but isn't that truth directly the result of the break-down of our family units and the extended family who are meant to come to the aide and take up the slack when needed? I fully, whole-heartily expect my children to pick up the slack when Mike and I are no longer able to care for Dominic. We are raising them intentionally to care for others at great cost to themselves, whether that be their own children or others who are dependent. I hope they become men and women who will forgo vacations and nice cars in lieu of providing a stable, loving, and faith-filled home for their families and for Dominic to live. If we can accomplish this goal, I say we have succeeded as parents.
We'll see about the school... we have time.