We bought a very special gift for Hannah when she turned 18. Her face lit up with excitement when she saw the large present so beautifully wrapped. She removed the wrapping paper, opened the box and found another wrapped box inside. She unwrapped box after box and finally she found a beautiful two-heart amethyst ring with a poem explaining that the two hearts symbolize God’s love for her and our love for her. She was genuinely moved. She was equally surprised, because a ring was not at all what she expected when she first saw how it was packaged.
We had a similar experience, years earlier, where I was the one that was surprised. The gift was from God. It was packaged in several boxes, one inside the other, with a beautiful gift in each one.
At the end of Hannah’s third grade year, I was told by a team of professionals at her school that she would never be able to keep up in a regular classroom. But I had seen great intelligence in Hannah and I knew there had to be a way to tap into it academically.
I decided to homeschool her.
I taught her using every method I could think of and every visual aid and hands on activity I could come up with. We made charts, graphs and diagrams. We used books and worksheets. We raised a baby goat together.
We went on many field trips to see historical sites; animals; sites related to movies and shows we watched like The Von Trapp Family Ski Lodge (Sound of Music) and Walton Mountain Museum (The Waltons); delicious sites like Hershey, Pennsylvania and Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory; and even a famous cave.
Hannah made great progress, but during her sixth grade year, she asked to go back to public school.
“No.” That takes care of that question.
The next morning, Hannah said, “Mom, I really want to go back to public school.”
“Hun, schools have started putting sixth graders in middle school and that just wouldn’t be good for you.”
Later that day, Hannah said, “Mom, I looked it up online and found out that in Meade County, sixth graders still go to the elementary school.”
Ugh. Why won’t she let this go. After all, public school had failed her.
“I really don’t want to put you back in the public school system.”
She began to cry.
“But mom, I’m lonely. I want to be with other kids.”
She doesn’t have any friends her age in the neighborhood and we do need to work on her social skills with peers. But, oh, how I don’t want to put her back in public school.
“I will contact the director of special education for the school district, but if I don’t like what she has to say, the answer is going to remain, ‘No.’”
Her face lit up. “Thanks, mom!”
I called and set up a meeting.
“Lord, I’m asking You to close this door if it’s not going to be good for Hannah.”
I was absolutely certain that door would close.
After the meeting, I prayed again.
“Lord, You’re really gonna have to help me with this one.”
When I got home, Hannah met me at the door.
“How did it go? What did you think? Was she nice? Can I go back to public school?”
“Slow down now. It actually went very well. She was very nice and said she would do everything she could to help, but I’m still not sure about this. I need to meet with the teachers at the school and see how that goes.” I wasn’t exactly overflowing with enthusiasm. I didn’t see this as the gift it was.
“Lord, I want to do what’s right for Hannah and I’m just not sure this is it. It would be so hurtful to put her back in school and have it not work out well. Please close this door if this isn’t the right thing!”
Hannah and I put together a portfolio of some projects we had been working on in homeschool. I took it with me when I went to the school to meet with teachers, therapists, and the principal.
Once again, when I got home, Hannah met me at the door.
“Well? How’d it go? Did
you meet my teacher? What was she like? Can I go back to school? When would I start?”
“Well, Hannah, it was absolutely amazing. Everyone was so nice and they were really impressed with your work. They’re willing to do whatever they can to help you be successful. In fact, the science teacher asked to take your diagram on cell division to show his class and he wants to give you extra credit for it.”
Hannah just stared at me for several seconds. Then she began to smile.
“Does that mean…wait…I can…I mean…Can I go back to school?!”
“That’s exactly what it means. I’ve never seen such a caring, helpful group of people in any school – public or private. And I’ve seen a lot of schools.”
She began jumping and dancing around the room.
“Oh, thanks, mom!” She wrapped her arms around me and giggled and giggled.
I couldn’t help but laugh. She danced and sang, “I’m going to school. I’m going to school.”
After several minutes, I said,
“Come sit down, because there’s even more.”
She ran over to me, jumped on a chair, and looked at me with a most eager expression.
“You’ll be starting school right after the Christmas break. You will have a special education teacher if you need help, but you’ll be in regular classes. Are you okay with that?”
“Really? Yes. That’s awesome!”
“They are also going to start a social group for you. There will be three or four girls that you’ll do some activities with once a week and you w
ill all sit together at lunch time.”
“That sounds like a lot of fun! I’ll be starting school already having some friends!”
“Exactly. You know, I have to tell you that I never expected this to work out at all. But this is so far above and beyond any school I have ever seen, that it has to be a gift from God. Helpful administrators, truly caring teachers, extra credit before you even start, and an instant group of friends – it’s like many gifts in one! And it sure didn’t come packaged the way I thought it would!”