18 years is SUCH a long time.
Imagine having a cold for 18 years. Or how about an itch?! (That would be awful.) But for some crazy reason, when it comes to raising your own humans, it's really no time at all. People often say, "Time is a thief", but I mostly disagree. Time is a gift -and if you are here reading this now, you have this gift. We are alive. It's a good thing to remember to be grateful for.
When I was in high school, I thought I was so old. (Chances are I knew everything too.) When the boys were little, I thought kids in high school were SO OLD. And now that I have a son in high school and have spent time on campus, suddenly I look at the high school kids and just see babies. Sure, they are at the top range of being a kid- but they are still just a kid. They are not young adults, they are old children. And still practicing kid things in a world that is so adult- with social media, and kids wearing lululemon and getting highlights and having a skincare regime at 10.
I often comment that in so many ways, my boys are just like other kids their own age. They want to be happy, they want to spend time doing what they like, they want to have friends and be liked. But there is also a grand canyon sized difference between them and kids who don't have special needs- aka "Super Powers". I don't have an idea of what our life will look like when they are done with high school- and to be honest, I'm just trying to deal with this week. One week at a time. I can't think that far in advance. But I do know that I have an intense ache in my heart for the parents of Seniors this year, who are getting ready to say goodbye to the tiny little babies of their own as they leave for college. I can't relate to that specific experience, but I can relate to a heart in pain. I'm thinking of you.
When I was in high school, I didn't have a car until my Junior year. And let me tell you, she was a BEAUTY. And by beauty, I mean BEAST. The car was my grandmother's army green 1973 maverick. It was older than I was. The sides were rusting, so they were "fixed" with silver duct tape. She had an AM/FM radio, a bucket seat up front, manual roll down windows, and a coil cigarette lighter and ash tray.
"The Mave" looked just like this.
Sometimes the horn would sound all on its own- continuously. Hoooooooooonnnnnnkkkkkkkk!!!! Can you IMAGINE my humiliation- desperately trying NOT to be noticed in this BEAST while being as loud as the krakatoa eruption while driving down main street? (I don't even know what that is- but I asked google- "What is the loudest sound in the world? and she said, the krakatoa eruption.) People staring at me- pissed off- wondering why I was lying on my horn.
When I went to the all girls, private high school and had to drive the beast, I would go 30 minutes before school started so I could pull all the way into the back-back where the nuns parked so I could go unnoticed. All the nuns had a hoopty so it blended right in! Don't mind me, just a woman of God here! Too godly to care about material possessions and cars! Now this car was not just ugly, she was incredibly unsafe too. I wouldn't even let my boys ride as a passenger in this car now. The battery died constantly, and the seat belts didn't always work.
I will tell you, not getting a lot growing up definitely taught me a lot about character. It taught me about what I valued, and what was important to me. I had to work for everything. I didn't instantly absorb these lessons- in fact, I would cry and fight with my parents over this car. It took years for the lessons to soak in.
My Dad taught me that money can not make a person- and not having money did not break a person. Money will just bring out what is already there. If you are kind and generous, you will be a rich, kind and generous person. And if you are an asshole- you will just be a rich asshole.
I barely see any hoopty cars in the high school parking lot. In fact, a lot of the kid cars are nicer than the teachers. The world has changed a lot, but the lessons we need to learn remain the same.
Both boys are eligible for school provided transportation as a provision of their Special Education Program. I've always declined- instead taking and picking up myself. To be honest, it's some of my favorite parts of my day. I love to be there when Grey and his classmates get out. I can't explain the energy and light these kids emit. I can be in an awful mood, and then interact with them, and my whole day turns around.
I was so caught up in wanting to say and wear and be the right thing in high school. But Grey just isn't desperate to fit in on a superficial level. He is just so fully himself, in a way so deep it's enviable. I see this in many of Grey's classmates.They hand out smiles and hellos freely. They walk into school with a little hop in their step. I'm smiling ear to ear as I write this. I wish you could experience it once if you haven't. Today I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this experience after an interaction with one of my favorite students who always greets me with the hugest smile.
I don't even think high school me would have been open to this. There weren't kids with Special Needs at my private high school. My Senior year I went to public school. There had to have been kids with Special Needs there- but I don't remember ever encountering them. I wonder how I would have reacted. Would I have said hello? Would I have felt sorry for them? Would I have averted my eyes as to make sure no one thought I was staring?
I don't know, but I do know- I missed out. I'm glad that I now know. It's so easy to get bogged down by day to day life, that we forget about the gift that is time. I'm glad that at least for today- I remembered.