April 23, 2010. The sky is brilliant blue, the chimes tinkling on our back porch beckoning me toward the promise of renewal that fresh air and spring warmth can offer. There’s no school today and Sophie has a play date after lunch. Although exhausted because our worries permit little rest these days, I vow to devote the waking hours of this long weekend to building happy memories with the children. My husband’s in California at a writer’s conference and so the three of us are on our own. Sophie wants to dig a hole to China and perhaps I’ll let her try. Peter prefers to be inside because of the newly sprouted bugs but we’ll coax him into participating all the same. Yesterday we visited a Catholic school across the river where both kids attended preschool. I had hoped they might take Peter back if our school district agreed to pay for a 1 on 1 aide, but after a warm but frank discussion with the principal, the possibility seems remote. His needs are too great for a typical school setting, even a small one, but it was wonderful for all three of us to see the children’s old teachers and the rest of the staff. As I eventually fell asleep last night, I promised myself this weekend would be about celebrating my kids, not scraping, clawing and fighting on their behalves. Maybe we can work on putting together a time capsule that we can drop in the hole in case we stop short of reaching China. Buried bits of our history and dreams for our future that some child, 100 years from now, might dig up when she’s shoveling dirt in search for the other side of the globe. I need Sophie and Peter to understand on a cellular level that they are extraordinary people who’ve demonstrated more resiliency, poise and bravery in their short, rocky lives than most of us face in a lifetime. Sophie’s school friend obviously doesn’t know about Peter. She asks questions with her eyes, demonstrating far more self-regulation than my two unfiltered munchkins. I reassure her that Peter’s okay, that he just has a different way of acting sometimes. Peter giggles self-consciously, bouncing up and down and swinging his sinewy arms nearly to the point of hysteria, as he offers a quick explanation: “My mom drunk oil. That’s how I’m like this.” Sophie’s friend stares at me in earnest this time and I quickly change the subject. I’m hoping her mom or dad is aware of our situation with Peter and can set her straight later. I listen as all three kids thunder outside to swing and play tetherball, the day too sensational to ignore. Meanwhile, I plan a scavanger hunt with a bag of leftover Easter candy and some quarters as the prize. It feels good to be focusing on the beautiful people whom God has entrusted to our care rather than allowing rancor about our misfortunes to rob my heart and soul of the very stuff that sustains me. I don’t know why Pat and I are being tested in this way, why any possible solutions to our formidable problems seem beyond the reach of our grasps, but I can’t forget to enjoy what’s right before me. Sophie and her friend will never be 7 again, and Peter at 8 may still be donning the same lion costume next year that he’s wearing right now, but he’ll have moved forward in other ways. There will be things about this day, this time, this moment, that I’ll long to remember and I can bet it won’t be CSE meetings, CPS investigators, education lawyers or snippity school superintendents. Sidewalk chalk portraits, the adorable way Peter’s teeth are coming in, Sophie applying red lipstick as eyeshadow, the way my son can now sometimes snuggle quietly with me to read a book – these are the moments worth cherishing.