As I enter into one of the darkest seasons of my year, and also one of my favorites because I LOVE FALL! I have been forced to think about my community, my people, and my supports of who I am. These are people that through my life have been there for me no questions asked. They accept me and my family for who we are deep down and for our history. I never thought I would write a post about religion, or any sort of politics but I have seen so many posts that I needed to address me and my Jewish people. In fact one of my oldest friends who has just recently re-entered my world inspired me to speak this truth of mine. It is no secret that I do not watch the news. In fact I only watch the news when I have had a bad day, because someone's day was worse than mine. And I did not have to watch the news this weekend to know that there was hate towards my people. Towards people that are hidden even to this day. During a moment that is an entrance into Judaism and so important to my people, the bris.
Let's back story a little bit. I have questioned every part of religion since I can remember. I have even identified myself as Agnostic for a time. I believe in something but I cannot define what that is. It is my Mr. Rabbi who has always allowed me to ask questions. To explore who I am. Who WE are. And Always has welcomed and supported me in my darkest hours. It was almost 18 years ago that my brother was killed. This was a pivotal religious moment for me. I did not live near my own familiar community. My Mr. Rabbi called his friend in Houston, who turned around and hand wrote a letter (email was still pretty new in 2000) inviting me to do my Yahrzeit, memorials, at his synagogue. I attended. I remember standing up as that was how they acknowledged their mourners and feeling something I never realized that I had...a community. A community that accepted me because of where I come from and where my history lies. They NEVER asked me for money. They never expected anything of me except to allow me to honor my brother. It was at this moment that I decided if I had children they too would have this outlet. If I was with someone who was deeply rooted in another religion I would explore this. I decided a choice was to be made for my future children to allow them this opportunity of community. I saw many family members and friends who did not have an initial choice made for them by their parents run away from the idea of G-D. I mean who could bring such evil and hatred into the world. But at its core, I had religion. I had people, I had me.
Fast Forward almost 16 years later. I was pregnant. I am with a man who is not deeply rooted in his church, but has beliefs and faith. We decided, or maybe I decided, that these children would be Jews. Another good friend of mine said at some point it is was a choice of the parent who is willing to do the work. Religion is work. Finding a community is work. And I was committed to making this choice and path for my children. Sure we celebrate other holidays with their fathers side of the family, but they are Jewish. As am I.
I write this post after the disgust of the hatred that occurred over the weekend in Pittsburgh. I mourn for humanity. I mourn for the Jewish community. I am embracing my people though in such a little way as a blog post. We must stand together as people. Love our Jewish people and ALL people for who they are and the questions that they ask. I do not even know what to say. I dedicate this to my community. A community that will be part of my life forever. I miss you my brother, but I thank you for reminding me of my part of being a Jew.
So NICU Awareness and Preemie Awareness has left me with a sense that I really need to be looking out better for milestones of my little fellas. Yes they are developing VERY well. No I am not worried. BUT if there are free offerings to have a non - biased review of them then why not go for it? I have spoken with many of my friends and colleagues and a few mom shamers who have to tell me how it is, and it all comes down to what is the harm? At the end of the day it is free and worst case I will receive a report detailing some of the ways that I can help my little guys be successful with services or without.
Here is the thing. I have had parents of students call me as a high school driver ed or health teach telling me that their kids are preemies and they have struggled all of their lives and all that. If you know me I am not someone to give my people a pass. To allow them to have excuses. I know life is hard. I know that they were little and they were born too early, but as I have always said they have survived and thrived. I will NOT be a mom that calls their teachers telling them that they were preemies. They will also not have developmental delay on an IEP(Individualized Educational Plan), that goes away when they are 3 and there is something else going on after that, thank you very much graduate school!
So here is some extra background. We go to NICU follow up which has occupational Therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, neonatologists, and eyes and hearing checks. I receive a big report that I read through and depending on who does the paperwork has different numbers and scores that I would like to see on both boys. I ask our pediatrician if this is like an Early Intervention (EI) Evaluation and she assures me it is, but, just but. We hear over and over again that these specialists do not often see "Typically" developing preemies. They get all excited to have "normal" evaluations with my boys and my ped tells me that we coasted through NICU. I am aware of this. But what is wrong with a non - biased set of people to come and evaluate?
The answer is NOTHING! This is not like when we grew up and our parents were afraid to have us tested, labeled, diagnosed, etc. Things have changed and the stigma of an IEP does not exist in the same way that it used to. Of course kids still stigmatized because kids are mean, but it is not the same as when we struggled through school.
I have spoken with a lot of friends whose kids get services and may I add FREE preschool and they told me there is no harm no foul. Some of my friends that may not have qualified are still making the choice to hold their kiddos back another year so they can get their skill base up and be on par mentally and socially with their peers. My mothers biggest regret in life about my brother was NOT holding him back with his birthday being on Halloween. Back then if you were born before December 1 and sometimes after you could go through into kindergarten.
So what is best? Get them tested? Hold them back? Put them in preschool yesterday? Accept them for who they are and try to get them to appreciate and love learning and school and not be afraid of it or bored? Yeah I think that's the way to go! Support your kids no matter where they are. That's what you are there for.
Early Intervention Info CDC
Jenifer Roth is a full time super woman...in her mind! Well she is good at being ok at the all the roles she takes on. Enjoy the ride!