To the Midstreams Elementary Staff,
It’s over. My son is graduating from the cocoon of his wonderful elementary school, and it’s time for Mommy to be mature about it.
Don’t hold your breath.
I knew this day would come. For the past few years I’ve breathed sighs of relief at every school event, reveling in the fact that this wasn’t the last one, that we had a year or years left of field day or book fair or holiday shop. Today I don my bright blue field day shirt for the last time and head to the fields, cognizant of the fact that this is the first of many “lasts” in the weeks to come.
Yes, I’ve already turned to chocolate.
I can still remember (which is quite a miracle really) a day five years ago when his principal kindly granted him a special tour of the school because we had to miss the “new arrivals night,” my boy both anxious and excited to leave his pre-school and start a new adventure. Over the next five years I’ve watched my son thrive in this academic yet fun environment, watched him stretch himself past his safety zone with the encouragement of his teachers.
By the way, I’m a former educator and I loved every last one of them. Yes, people, that means something.
Zach has a severely autistic older brother who happens to also have OCD and catatonia (the disability tri-fecta!), and I would be lying if I didn’t reveal that I spend a great deal of time worrying about him and his needs. The truth is having our youngest in a wonderful school placement has permitted my husband and I to spend many hours contriving things so Justin will be happy, as I am a firm believer that every family is only as happy as their least happy child.
Trust me, after fifteen years of dealing with autism, this is “truth.”
The glory of having his sibling in an environment where his teachers not only “get” him but love him is indescribable. For five years I have never once worried that any bump in the road would be addressed by both his teachers and his principal, that my son would be pushed to be his personal best, and equally important, that he’d have fun doing it.
This has allowed me not only time to focus on Justin’s needs, but to keep up with my tv shows. I have my priorities.
For half a decade I have witnessed a clan of teachers who listened to my boy, encouraged him when necessary, and perhaps my favorite, facilitated his burgeoning independence. They have inspired him to love learning (I know this because he often quoted all of you at home), to take responsibility for his actions, and to remind him to raise his hand when he has an idea (a continual work in progress). I have had the joy of knowing that his principal and former assistant principals would always be approachable if any issue arose, have been confident that a solution to any problem would be found.
Clearly, I am a fan of this school.
Sometimes, it takes a little bit more than a village, and my son has been fortunate to find a community within which he has thrived. My husband and I can’t thank all of you enough, from the custodian to every para and every specialist, to two amazing secretaries, to all his teachers and ancillary staff as well as his principal and assistant principals, for your care of our boy. For five years (once he’s awake, still a struggle, wondering how that will go next year) every single day he’s been excited to go to school, and I deeply thank all of you for fostering that love of learning within him.
We will be back to visit. Both Zach and I will need our fix.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking care of my son.
For more on my family visit my blog at autismmommytherapist.wordpress.com
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