Greyson received his first ever homework assignment last week, which is due tomorrow. Once a week he spends the day with his own teacher shadow at a typical preschool (vs a special education classroom). Since autism brings with it difficulty with social interactions, it's important to me that he spends time each week surrounded by typically developing children. I don't send him there to learn about letters or numbers or math. Grey gets to see how the other children speak, follow directions, interact, play, and sit calmly during circle time. I just want him to learn how to be okay being around other people.
The other children in his classroom learn incredible life lessons too. They learn patience and that we are all different and learn at different paces. They learn that it's not okay to laugh at someone who takes longer, doesn't get something right or misbehaves. They learn how to use their gifts to help others. I've seen beautiful interactions that have made me want to cry- from the helper children. God puts at least one in every single classroom for every single child with Super Powers. I promise you- God will always take care of your child that way. Once a little girl said, I prayed to God last night that Greyson would start talking soon. Oh sweet girl, me too. Me too.
For many many months going to school was extremely hard for Grey- maybe even for a whole year. It's funny how forgettable our biggest struggles in the moment can become. He would cling to me while I walked him into school in the morning. For the past few months whenever we pass the school's exit on the freeway but don't exist- he screams and points. It took me a couple of times before I realized what he wanted. You want to go to school, buddy?! Ohmygosh. You want to go to school. Oh, I'm so sorry- we only go there on Wednesdays. He likes being there. He loves music class. I think he even likes being around the other children- it's just also really hard for him at the same time. I feel what he feels sometimes- and that's what I have felt lately. I like this- but sometimes it makes me freak out.
Last night I was filling out his homework- his All About Me poster. I was surprised at the lump in my throat and the numerous emotions colliding. I dug in deep, looking for the source of the sadness and discovered many different layers. I can't believe I have a little person. A whole entire little human who has likes and dislikes and hopes and dreams and his own life away from me. He was just born yesterday, yet he's almost five. I don't understand how that happens. I was so happy when I realized that although he doesn't speak- I know so much about him. Words aren't our only means of communicating- what we do and how we act often says so much more. I was sad because so often- my gut instinct about his future scares me- and this poster only had spaces for the optimist me. And in stretching to think that way- I realized it was possible- anything. And lastly, I got so sad because I couldn't ask him how I should answer, When I grow up I want to be...
It was the only thing I couldn't answer without him...I really could only guess at what he would say. Would he say truck driver? jumper? I had no answers at all. I don't know what he will be capable of and sometimes that's scary.
And then I realized exactly what the answer should be.
Happy. An answer more of us should choose.
Happiness isn't a noun. It's not a Police Man or Doctor or Mom or a new shiny car. It's not a vacation home or another job or a boob job or three children or another person. It isn't complicated- happy just is. It's an adjective. A beautiful, simple, shiny adjective. It's deep within. It's a feeling high in your chest and scattered throughout your cells.
We work so hard. Tirelessly to line up all the pieces. Doctors and vegetables and tests and activities and schools and vitamins and everything. It's exhausting. But it all comes down to happy. And at least for today, and maybe even forever, happy is enough for me.
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