This morning Ashley graduated from preschool. Of course I cried. The moment the song began the eyes welled….
I made it…. I’m the world’s greatest…. sang R Kelly.
I tried to keep it together and concentrated on holding the video camera steady.
My little girl…..
It doesn’t seem so long ago that Sean was the pint-sized graduate crossing the stage. Almost a decade and a hundred pounds ago… but it could have been yesterday.
But it was actually a lifetime ago. A lifetime filled with a new vocabulary, new routines. A lifetime we never envisioned when the doctor said, “Congratulations! It’s a boy.”
It was, in fact, a life without Autism.
Remember those days? Remember the worrying? The sense that something was…I don’t want to say ‘not right’ because that just sounds negative…. but amiss with our children?
The first day of preschool the idea that Sean wasn’t like the other boys in his class hit me like a sledgehammer. You always worry and wonder how your child will get along with others. Hopefully, they won’t be the biter of the class or the kid who won’t disengage from his parent’s leg.
My kid….my Sean… was the kid who played by himself. While the other boys were running around in the field waiting for the school doors to open, Sean stayed by me.
Shy? Perhaps. My husband is shy. Why not?
Even in the classroom, Sean preferred to play alone. He would play in the pretend kitchen area, cooking and making noises. Then he would stop. He’d beat himself Tarzan-like about his head and chest. After a few seconds of this, Sean would stop and go back to playing as if nothing had happened.
“Nothing” is what the professionals I reached out to said at the time.
“Don’t worry about it. He’s a nervous child… a toe-tapper, a pencil chewer.”
No, it’s something. And it’s called “stimming.”
I had to learn what it meant. The professionals should have known.
Then again, they aren’t the parent.
And for years and years, doctor to doctor, waiting list to waiting list, we fought to have what we knew be heard.
Then, finally, it was…. at the end of Sean’s first grade year.
We were not devastated when those words were spoken aloud and drifted over the conference table towards us.
We did not mourn the person that Sean would never grow up to be….
Because we knew….
Just like Ashley today… like Carissa before her…
Just like Sean so many years ago...
Whether they crossed the stage or not, stood up straight or fidgeted, waved to the crowd or cried in fear….
We knew that our kids were the world’s greatest.
And they still are.