We special needs parents need to savor our kids, because they’re kids no more before we blink our eyes.
Today is Will’s last first day of school, as a 21-year old “12+” special student at his collaborative. Only 6 months more and he’ll age out of school entirely, for the bright world of adult services – said with emphasis and maybe self-persuasion on the ‘bright’ part.
We did not have the get-ready-night I planned for him. Dinner was rushed, and we stayed out late helping the daughter move from her own last, first – her last night in her first apartment. The ice cream shops were closed by the time we were done and ready for the promised reward. We had to settle for taqueria tacos at 10:30 pm, which were actually quite yummy followed by supermarket cookies. Instead of whatever calm preparation I had in mind for him, Will spent a few hours carrying moving boxes and college-style garbage bags stuffed with sheets and hangers. And in between he walked 3/4 of a mile between apartments twice.
And yet as always, the moment showed us all at our best. Will (and Jeff) have such placid dispositions. When the family moving van had to leave without us in the new apartment sans TVs or internet, they waited patiently while Mom amused herself chatting with the new roommate. They tolerated the drives around town, and tacos that weren’t quite from the Ortega box they’re used to having, and sadly no ice cream. This was after a day when Mommy yet again was consumed with work and the skills trainer, God love her, had a far more academic agenda than I had in mind.
Will just kept on smiling. I’m not sure why. Because he was busy? Because someone was engaging with him? I like to think it’s because he knows he’s loved. His male teacher hates this, but Will prefers holding someone’s arm while he walks. As we crossed myriad crosswalks on the streets of the city yesterday, I left the warm press of his hand against mine. It was a hand bonded to the holder, as we crossed new paths toward the sister’s new place – and metaphorically across our own.
While that face is wearing a bleary sleep-deprived look right now as the alarm rang and I made sure he answered it – yes he is a normal young man – I’m proud of this young man’s last first day of school. It’s going to be the best. Because he’s truly the best.