Matt Guidry, a slender white man with silver hair and beard, rides a scooter next to his children: Caleb, an adult with Cornelia de Lange syndrome who uses a chair, pushed by Lillian, a teenager with a mop of brown hair and a wide grin. They are on a park trail lined with tall prairie grasses.
For this installment of  In Small Moments I pass the ball to Julie, who opens up about her own experience of how the pandemic is showing up in our home through Caleb’s experience. It’s also a story of how our work, our practice, of using creativity shows up in our daily lives. Creativity is not about completely reimagining the experience. It’s about being prepared and adapting to what you have in the moment, changing one thing at a time to improve the situation. Adapting is what we’re all faced with at the moment, and it’s good to remember that change happens gradually, a little at a time. Often in the small moments. – Matt 

The nursing shortage at Caleb’s group home has gone from bad to worse.  

And our sweet kiddo is having to spend the night at our house more than he would like. Despite our comfort of having him home, he is agitated and dismayed to be in his own house, his own room, his own bed.

Each time we get the call that Caleb will be coming for the night, I panic a little at first.  Then I eat my feelings. And then I move. I pull out the sheets, and prop the head of the bed up with pillows, so Caleb is lying a little upright.  I wrestle with the fitted sheet, and wonder how we can’t have come up with a better solution than this ridiculous infuriating reality.  I recruit our daughter to drag the mattress up from the basement to set up on the living room floor, giving Matt a suggestion of a bed that is close to Caleb, and the inevitable alarms alerting Matt to a disconnected pump or pulse ox or whatever else will rattle him awake in the middle of the night.  I get our whole bed upstairs all to myself – and sleep with one eye open all night.

When Caleb came over a few nights ago, we all sprung to action, taking on our usual roles of preparing ourselves and preparing our space for the night ahead.  Wrestling match with fitted sheets, shoving match with basement mattress. Food.  Water. Love. Goodnight.  Except this time Matt opted out of the mattress on the living room floor, and instead chose to sleep next to Caleb, in the same bed.

And in the morning, they were both fresh and rested when they woke up.  The alarms that had gone off at night were easily silenced and dealt with because Matt was right there. 

Matt changed one thing.  And the experience changed, for everyone.   

At Upstream Arts, we talk about the importance of preparing ourselves, preparing our work, preparing our space before students come into a room.  This preparation ensures that we are ready for them to arrive, and it ensures that we can focus our attention on the students once they are there. And by changing just one thing, in a small moment, the learning experience can potentially change for everyone.

The slog of pushing mattresses up the stairs and wrestling with fitted sheets has been a part of the process and preparation.  But doesn’t always have to be.


Julie Guidry


Read reflections from Matt’s perspective In Small Moments here.