Today, I am a bit frustrated because we were finally going to get back to church and the new aide was a no show. I don’t know what other families do about getting to church, but, for us it has been a real problem. When we lived in California, we belonged to a church for years before Parker was born and we had connections. Once he was born, we were able to leave him in the nursery during the service. We loved the people that helped in the nursery and we felt perfectly comfortable leaving him there. Parker was dedicated at this church when he was a few months old, which gave us an even closer tie to our church. As he got older we felt he should move to the toddler room, but, they didn’t have as much help with the toddlers and toddlers move around a lot. This became a problem because Parker could sit up, but, was easily knocked over. Rather than chancing an injury, we took him back to the nursery. This worked for a while longer. When he began to look so much bigger than all the babies, we decided to stop attending church until we could find a better solution. We couldn’t take him into the service with us because he was way too noisy, even in the cry room he was too loud and I couldn’t hear the sermon. So, what was the point? We worried about his safety with his peers, so we decided to give it a little time and thought. Since we were members and had been actively participating for years in the church and its functions, we were missed when we stopped attending. Someone called us and checked to make sure we were alright because we were missed. Now this church was by no means small. It was a huge church with many services each weekend and a large body of members. We were excited that anyone noticed that we had stopped attending. We explained our unusual predicament and all we had tried so far and the caller was sympathetic and we thought that was it.
To our surprise, a short time later we received a call from the children’s ministries pastor and she explained her idea for our situation. She knew a woman who helped out at church and worked part time on Saturday nights in the children’s ministry. This woman had heard about our problem and was offering to watch Parker in his class so he could be with his peers and we could feel comfortable about attending church service. We were amazed and touched that someone would be so thoughtful and giving of her time. She was our angel sent from God. She was very good with Parker and he loved being with her and being with the other kids in his class. She made sure he did everything he could do in class and made sure he had fun. We never worried when he was with Connie. As time went on, Connie became more involved with the church and started a special needs program whereby any special needs person would have a one on one to help at church in his or her class. Parker had several other people that would care for him in his class, but, he always saw Connie and had a special connection to her. This worked fabulous for many years and we were so grateful for Connie and the program she launched. I hope she knows how very special and wonderful she is and how much we cherished her service to us and God.
When we decided to make our move across country, we knew we may never find another Connie, but, we did not know how difficult getting established in a new church would be for us. We have been here in North Carolina for 2 ½ years now and we have tried about a half dozen different churches and we looked at them primarily in terms of what they could offer Parker. We found one with a special needs program and it has some great people in charge of it. The problem for us is that the class was mostly older people, high school age and up and we worried that Parker would get injured. We also would rather he be involved with a class of his typical peers. We know he needs a lot of time and attention, but, we like for him to experience typical kids, not just disabled kids. We finally settled on a church that we liked best for us, but, has no real place for Parker. Lee and I took turns going to Parker’s class with him and trying to get him acquainted with the environment. We hoped we might find a way for him to attend and us to go to the service. It was not happening and we gave up on that idea. For awhile my niece Jessica came every Sunday to watch him at home and we went to church. It was fabulous of her to give up her time and her own ability to attend church, but, it didn’t feel quite right that we would go to church without our son. It didn’t solve the problem of getting Parker involved. We also tried taking turns going to church, but, that was even worse because there was no family church time. When we were ready to give up, my brother began a bible study during the week when Bria, Parker’s CNA, was with him. At least we had some worship and study time, even though Parker was still left out of the equation. Eventually the bible study petered out and we were back to square one.
About 3 or 4 months ago I inquired about getting another CNA for Sunday mornings. I thought that taking a CNA to church would be a great idea. We could go to the sermon and Parker could go to his class and the aide would help him participate. When he got bored, she could play with him quietly in the back of the room until he could once again participate. If he became too loud and needed a break, she could take him to another room to play until he was ready to return and join the group. This became an issue, as does everything that involves a government agency. At first, we were told that we probably couldn’t both be in the car with the CNA and Parker and the aide get paid. There is a rule that if both parents are available, the aide can’t be on the clock. I know, dumb rule! After a lot of checking with the state and its rule makers, we finally got a go ahead, as long as we are using respite and not regular hours. Okay, that is what we were doing anyhow. Amazing, it took months to get to this place. So, then we asked our agency to find another CNA for us for Sundays. This was rather difficult because most people in Hickory attend Sunday morning services. They did manage to find a gal for us and she came out to meet us and train with Bria. We thought we were finally about to return to church when Parker and I came down with Strep throat last weekend. Okay, we would put off our return until next week. Well, today came and our new aide didn’t. All dressed up and no place to go. I called the agency and apparently she was supposed to get a call out to the new CNA to confirm and she forgot. Really? Why is this so hard? We are just trying to go to church, not build a church. Maybe next week? We will just wait and see!