Every Tuesday evening since last September Naomi has dutifully piled into the car and driven with us to Hannah's ballet class. She has sat in the waiting room and done homework or read books while Hannah had the time of her life twirling to Disney tunes. Matt and I have considered enrolling Naomi in ballet as well, and we've considered giving soccer another go-around next fall, and while these would have been alright, they weren't just perfect for Naomi.
|One of Naomi's intricate horse drawings|
I had heard once or twice of a charity stable nearby that enrolled children with special health needs in a horse riding program and offered scholarships to those with financial need, but I hadn't seriously entertained the possibility of applying for Naomi because of another insurmountable obstacle: child care for my other four kids. I couldn't bring them along to a stable for liability purposes and I felt it was too much to ask someone to watch all my kids once a week for two hours. I impose on people enough just to get my kids to all their doctors' and therapy appointments.
But a couple weeks back an older couple from our church approached me and asked if I'd ever heard of this stable. I said I had, but I just didn't think it was feasible to get Naomi there every week without childcare for my other kids. They countered that they thought it would be so good for Naomi that they were willing to come to my house and watch my other kids if needed. This generous offer and the application packet that they placed in my hands was just the spur in my side that I needed. Maybe it was possible after all.
I mentioned, cautiously, to Naomi that this might be a possibility sometime this summer. She was cautiously ecstatic. I filled out the application, and wrote a letter for the scholarship application detailing how I thought the program would be helpful to encourage Naomi to get her nose out of books, get off the couch, get moving, and make friends. I dropped the medical release forms by her doctors office and we waited. Finally the doctors' office called last week to say that the release form was ready for me to pick up. When art class was cancelled this morning and Matt happened to have the morning off, I had the idea of taking Naomi with me to the stable to drop off her packet. Matt wasn't so sure it was a good idea to get her all excited, just in case it didn't work out.
So I called this morning and found out that there is quite a waiting list for most kids, but after describing Naomi's age and medical conditions the lady replied, "Actually, I do have an immediate opening in one class for that age and ability group. Why don't you bring her by to drop off the packet, and we'll see if she might be a good fit for this class." She also assured me that no qualified applicant would be turned away because of inability to pay for the classes.
Naomi bounced up and down with an enormous grin on her face when I told her we would be going to have a look around the stable this morning and that it looked like a reasonable possibility. She could hardly contain her enormous sheepish grin as I got ready to leave. As we pulled out of the driveway I asked her when the last time had been that she and I had gone anywhere together, just the two of us. She thought a moment and said, "I think it was last summer when I had that really bad stomach ache and fever and joint pain and we went to the hospital." I told her it was definitely time for us to have some fun together.
We we greeted at the stable by the program director whom I'd spoken to on the phone. She took us back to the arena where two kids were riding horses with adults walking beside them, and a little boy with apparent Down Syndrome sat all geared up awaiting his turn. We watched the horse riders and the director talked with us and watched Naomi's shining face. It was decided that Naomi was the perfect fit for the one open position that remained. It is a high-ability group of three other kids Naomi's age, where the goal is to learn to ride independently. It also includes learning to brush, saddle, and care for the horses. The class started four weeks ago, so Naomi will be able to jump into the very next session, this Thursday evening!
"I'm so glad you called today," she remarked, "the child who was supposed to be in this class hasn't been able to make it, and I've been trying to fill this position, but I just couldn't find anyone who is a perfect fit, until now."
Naomi and I both had trouble containing our excitement on the way home. "You know, Naomi," I said, "a lot of people would see that as a fortunate coincidence this morning--that the doctor's form was ready, and art class was cancelled, and Daddy had the morning off of work just in time for us to drive up here right at the time they needed to fill this position--but I think God had that position in mind for you all along. He can put our lives together just like a puzzle and make things fit just the way he wants." She had to agree.
We called Matt and Grandpa Johnson to share the good news, and we talked about all the great things Naomi had to look forward to. "You know," Naomi mused with a little laugh, "for me, this is like a dream come true." The only problem now is waiting until Thursday.