|Speech for Parent’s Weekend at Glenholme, 2012
If someone were to ask me to describe our journey at Glenholme in one word, what comes to mind is “gift”.
Our son Ben is going to be graduating this June. He came to this school a wild stallion, kicking and screaming every step of the way. I asked his social worker, Mr. Timmel, if we were his most difficult clients because frankly, as hard as we worked, it felt as though getting through to our son was hopeless.
Then a small miracle happened. On the day of “Open House” Ben sat in front of a large group of parents, playing the guitar and singing, by himself. I was stunned. Yes, he had a nice voice and singing was something he had never done around us. Yet that wasn’t it. Something had changed. It was really only a ripple, not a huge wave. But it was an important ripple because I had never seen it before. A brief moment of a different kid. It was a huge breakthrough, then there were major catastrophes, and sometimes-just back to square one, but the “ripple” was still there.
Glenholme became our son’s community and while Ben has been here he has been doing the things he is supposed to do, playing sports, acting in a play, making friends, learning.
As unique as every child is at Glenholme, we as parents are all very much the same. There is no denying we have our work cut out for us. Glenholme has given us great tools. I will have to remind myself in the most trying of times to press my “Mom” button, which is to stop, breathe and always try to do better than the “last” time. Sometimes it will be OK, sometimes it won’t. Life with Ben is about not fighting with him, but always fighting for him.
We are terrified about the next step, after graduation. We won’t have the walls of Glenholme to keep Ben safe. He will have to reach deep inside and remember what he experienced here, and believe me, we will be there to remind him. Is he going to keep challenging us? It would be unrealistic to believe otherwise.
Our journey with our son will go on, yet we believe choices will be easier as time passes and Ben continues to grow into an honorable young man. We believe, because Glenholme has taught us we can. You have guided us with your words of encouragement when we have felt incredibly discouraged, and hopeful words of praise when the world seems just as scary a place as it does to our son.
And probably not right away, but years from now, Ben will feel the full impact of what he has acquired here. He will walk somewhere or be in the middle of stopping himself from doing the wrong thing, and then he will remember something Mr. Kepics had said to him, or Dr. Queenan, and he will just say “oh yeah” with that mischievous smile on his face.
So come June, whether he realizes it or not, a very different Ben is going to be walking up to get his Diploma.
Thank you for being there with our endless phone calls and your unending support. Thank you so very much. Thank you for being our son’s home and our extended family. And thank you for being the incredible gift that has touched our lives. We will miss you greatly. If Glenda the Good Witch were to comfort us today she would tell us to click our heels three times and say, “There’s no place like Glenholme, there’s no place like Glenholme, there’s no place like Glenholme.” And by the way, I will still be calling Mr. Timmel.