A 4-1/2 year old child who cannot have contact with other children his age?
A 4-1/2 year old child who cannot run or jump, who does not attend pre-school, who never-ever(!)- goes to the playground, who is not allowed to let his imagination roam free in a sandbox, who is not allowed to enjoy the warmth of the sun’s rays, who may never watch a doggie wag its tail or a baby kitten utter a squeaky meow?
When my adorable son Yehonatan was diagnosed with leukemia, they explained to us that he would not be able to do all these things and more. Traumatized by a diagnosis that could lead to the unthinkable, we also were forced to deal with a pre-schooler who-in his own words-can’t do nuttin’. It drives the parents crazy. It drives the child crazy. It’s a tremendous burden to be added to the load we were already carrying.
And then— when you think there is no way out and you cry all day only to find that the next day brings more of the same frustration, tantrums, shouting, when you feel lost in a tunnel, unable to help him, unable to help yourself— then you suddenly discover that there are some special angels out there who know all about your frustrations-really know- and they are anxious to come to your rescue.
Ezer Mizion’s Donald Berman Rehabilitation Center, a magical empire founded just for families like ours-families that are at the end of their rope with no place to turn. It is a safe place for kids like Yehonatan and there is no concern that the child will catch any diseases there. It is a home for families to live during the treatment period. It’s close to the hospitals so we avoid traveling but it offers so much more than just living quarters. It’s like living with a parent- a very knowledgeable and professional parent – who will take care of your every need, your every want, even those that you didn’t even know you had. Everything. From a fun trip to recharge our batteries and bring out smiles that hadn’t seen the light of day for weeks to professional counseling and therapy enabling parents and kids to cope with the nightmare that has entered our lives. The craft room. The story hour. The Sukah party. The trip to Legoland. The music room where the children unload on drums all the aggression they amassed inside of them while in the hospital, later soothing their troubled souls on the gentler instruments . The petting zoo. Social workers who really care. Therapists who don’t know what it means to punch a clock. And the pre-school. The entity that saved our sanity.
Allow me to sing the praises of Ezer Mizion’s unique pre-school that was created by a wonderful staff of teachers.
The pre-school is actually an hour and a half of group activity for the 3 to 6-year-old set that takes place under the able hand of the marvelous Sarit, accompanied by Naamah from the Wildlife Pavilion, Avigayil from the music room, and Hadas from the art room, along with wonderful volunteers to give any necessary help. The pre-school framework is actually the children’s only opportunity to spend time in some kind of framework in the company of their contemporaries (and pets).
Did you ever watch a sunrise as glorious light pushes aside the frightening darkness? This is what occurs at Ezer Mizion’s pre-school. A child who underwent a chemotherapy treatment in the morning, including nausea, vomiting, being poked by needles, and repeated harassments on his delicate soul, finishes the treatment feeling angry, rebellious, and stiff as a rock unable to be reached. Then he walks into the pre-school door. Slowly you witness the unfurling of dawn. His muscles relax, the smile begin to take form, and the happiness and enthusiasm gleam from his gorgeous eyes. This transition demonstrates how desperately these children need such a framework, how they thirst for the company of other children, and how much they require the guidance and direction of understanding professionals.
This change is worth everything, and no words can even begin to express our gratitude to the wonderful staff for creating this magic.
A grateful parent