My beautiful boy is wrapping up his first year of public school.
I drove him to school that first morning, last August, with so many emotions.
None of them were what you'd expect of a mom dropping off her first-born for the start of kindergarten. I didn't have that sense of "Look at my baby, all grown up." I didn't mourn the passing of the preschool years. You see, my blissful new-mommy days were very short-lived. It seemed they were over practically before they began -- although I still can remember, when I allow myself, that brief little window of time when I thought my life was perfect and my baby the most beautiful child ever born.
Even now, I can't type those words without tears.
But there would be no tears for me when I dropped dear Daniel off for his first day of kindergarten, not even as I watched him go into the building with his wonderful, God-send of a teacher, Ms. H. Unlike all the other kindergarten parents, I did not walk my child to his classroom. I didn't dare. I did not think I would be able to walk out on my own two feet if I saw him panic.
So I dropped him at the curb, just like we had practiced with Ms. H the week before, gave him a kiss, and watched until the doors closed behind him and he disappeared from sight.
No tears. I didn't really expect any from him. He is a tough kid. But I wasn't so sure about my own eyes.
The tear ducts must have been on strike. They certainly had reason to be. Talk about overuse.
I made it all the way back home without a single tear. But I was so very, very sad that August morning.
Sad that my son still could not say a single word.
Sad that his father was no longer living with us.
Sad that I could not even explain to my sweet little boy what in the world was going on, both with his school life and with his home life. He just didn't, and still doesn't, have the receptive language to process words like "new" or "kindergarten."
And I was scared.
Scared about how he would transition to this new, BIG school after two-years at a school where he felt so comfortable, where the teachers knew him so well, where the kids accepted him and tried to help, where there were so many loving people around to keep him "in the game."
Scared how I was going to make it, how I was going to be who and what my children needed me to be.
Scared, really, about just getting through each day without a breakdown.
I am sure Daniel was nervous, too -- how could he not have been?
And, yet, as I tried to take something positive away from that morning -- that sad, sad morning at one of the most difficult points of my life -- I didn't really have to think that hard to find it, that one beautiful thing about which to rejoice.
My little boy walked into that great big school building on his first morning of kindergarten like a champ.
We had practiced. Thanks to his wonderful teacher, we had visited the school many times in preparation for the big day. I had told her just a little about the sadness going on at home, so she would know what kind of stress was going on in his life.
I made a picture book for him to bring, full of photos of Daniel with his family and of him doing his favorite things. I asked that his teacher read it to his classmates. I tried to explain to these children, in words they could understand, that Daniel is "different" in some ways, the most noticeable being that he cannot talk -- but that he is like them in many others. And that even though they frequently would wonder if he was hearing them, that he really was listening.
I felt like I had done all I could to make Daniel feel as comfortable as possible on the big day.
But I worried. I prayed.
And I watched ...
He put the big red backpack over his arms, gave me a kiss, took his teacher's hand, and walked away from me like .... well, like a great big grown-up boy.
He couldn't ask me a single question about what to expect. He couldn't ask what was going to happen during the day or if any of the same kids and teachers from his old school would be here at the new one (and, unfortunately, none of them would be). He couldn't ask why or how long. He couldn't ask a darn thing.
And, yet, off he went.
And I marveled in pure amazement ....
What a testament to my child's strength.
What a symbol of his trust in me.
To think that he would go into that great big building, with nobody but strangers surrounding him .... to think that he would just walk into the unknown because he sensed it was what I was expecting of him ....
What faith that child must have in me.
How could I, as remarkably imperfect as I am, deserve such faith?
It is the highest compliment I have ever, and most assuredly will ever, be paid.
My little boy soon will be transitioning to a special program for the summer. He will be attending a small private school for young children with autism. It isn't cheap, but I know he will receive quality attention and services there, and I am so grateful he has the opportunity.
I ask that you all please take some moments throughout the summer to send prayers or good wishes Daniel's way. Please pray, in whatever way you choose, that he has a wonderful summer, with accomplishments big and small.
And pray for me, too. Pray that I remember, in my weakest moments, how much trust my little boy has placed in me -- a trust so great that I still have yet to truly earn it. Pray that I become a stronger and better mother with each passing year, and that one day I can look back and think I really was the kind of mother to deserve such an amazing, trusting love.