There is a small Farmer's Market in Auburn Hills every Thursday afternoon/evening. My friends have gone for a long time and have always put out an open invitation for people to join them. Even with all of their good reviews, I had never managed to make it there. Until today.
Let me back up for a minute to let you know my emotional state of the past week or so. In a nutshell, I realized Lea is old enough for the post-high school program of special education. She wants to go. She had a last minute graduation. I have been meeting with *gulp* public school staff after homeschooling since Feb. '07. I left her with the school psychologist for testing for 2 hours while I sat and became increasingly uncomfortable in the office of the high school. I spent the next 48 hours questioning this decision to send her back to school. Some of my thoughts: "Is she ready?" "Will she be safe going off in the community with this group?" "Will I survive all this worry?" "Is this program going to meet her needs?" "Am I sending her because it's a great opportunity for HER, or so I can have a break?" OK, so that is where I was at.
For some reason, I chose today to go to the market. My friends were not even there and I almost left! It's crazy, but I get uncomfortable shopping markets and art fairs. I feel guilty looking at stuff made/grown by these people who have put themselves out there to sell it, and then not buying. But I can't buy everything!
I sucked it up and shopped and got some great stuff. Beautiful tomatoes, jam, salsa, eggs from happy chickens.
With my arms full, I approached the last booth on my route. It was full of handmade items of all kinds. As I started to look, a young woman asked me, "Did you find what you are going to buy yet?" I could tell these entrepreneurs had some cognitive challenges and, of course, smiled as my heart swelled. "Not yet" I said. I put my prior purchases in the car and came back to shop without distraction. There were candles made in cute teacups, plaques with nice sayings on them that were very artsy, cement stepping stones decorated with jewels and coasters made from tiles with pictures modge-podged onto them. "Here, take a flier about our program!" I read the flier describing the SKILL program of Avondale schools. This is the post-high program in their district for people with special needs from 18 to 26. The same program Lea is signed up for in our district. Hmmm....
With the help of the very chatty young lady, I picked out a coaster that has a picture of a boxer puppy on it. This sparked a (rather long) conversation about our dogs. She even asked if I had pictures of them on my phone. (Which I did. Is that weird?) I also showed her a picture of Lea and told her Lea has a disability, too. "What does she have?" she politely asked. "She has Down syndrome." The girl and her friend looked at each other and grinned. "OH! Cool!!" Not a response I have ever gotten in Lea's 17 1/2 years! "Does she have a lot of friends?" Wow, that is an unexpected question. "Well, she does have some friends, but she doesn't have lots." I said. "Well, I LOVE making new friends! Maybe I can meet her!"
Enter the program director. We had a talk about Lea, about her starting the Rochester program in the fall. I even told her about my hesitation, about my fears. Her face just lit up. She explained how these programs offer our special kids such great opportunities to interact in the community and learn independence and life skills. She talked about her love of these students. She told me about a fun dance program they offer during the school year and said Lea could attend. My new friend behind the table said "Yeah!!! It's fun! She should come!!" I got information on the program, said my goodbyes and left with my tile coaster.
A tile coaster made by a stranger is probably the LAST thing I need in my house. The clutter is closing in on me and I am trying to get rid of stuff! But that precious coaster is a reminder to me that God has this in His hands. He knew it all along. He sent me to the Farmer's Market to remind me.