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Not Yet Letting Go

So, J started middle school.

I am allowed to pull right up to school, rather than with the masses of cars on side streets or shopping center parking lots, and drop him off and pick him up.

He is allowed to enter school a few minutes before everyone else and go to his locker before the crowds rush in.

I spoke with him about maybe dropping him off in the morning with all the other kids. He said ok. Then, when I told his aide that we would do that starting on Monday. But then, Jackson, who had began to join the throngs of kids waiting to go into school because, although he CAN enter early, sometimes he just wants to do what every other kid is doing, came back over to us and said, “No! No! That’s not what I said. I said HERE.”

Ok, so he’s not ready. That’s ok.

Then, after school when I pick him up from the same spot, on the side of the building, and we are driving to his old elementary school to pick up his sister, I point out to J all the other kids walking into town with their friends. I tell him that they go with their friends after school to get ice cream, or a smoothie, or whatever, and I ask him if he wants to do that?

No answer.

He’s looking ahead, not at the kids.

I say it again. And I ask if he would like to go with so-and-so one day into town and then I can pick him up from town later.

A moment. Then, “Uhhhhh, I don’t know.”

“Okay, well you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to, but maybe, if one day you would like to, you just let me know. Like maybe in the spring.”

“I’m worried. What if I can’t find you?”

“Well, we’d pick a spot and I would meet you there.”

“Oh.”

“Maybe in the spring?”

“Yeah, I think maybe in the spring. It’s too hot now, and then it’ll be winter so…”

And that was that.

Today, he had football practice in a different spot. I was in my pjs, not a stitch of makeup, full on bedhead and coffee breath. I told him that he was practicing on the grass, not the turf.

“Okay.”

“Do you know where that is?”

“I think so.”

Crap. I really don’t want to get out of the car.
We pull up and I see a teammate. I tell Jackson, “See so-and-s0? Follow him.”

I say goodbye and give him a smooch and he gets out of the car. I watch him walk but then I lose him in the throng of soccer uniforms and football uniforms and trying to navigate reversing in a parking lot full of both little and not-so-little kids rushing anxiously to their practices.

I drive away and I think, “What if he can’t find his team? What if no one helps him? What if I get a call asking where he is?”

Anyway, I came home and started getting ready. My cell phone rang. It was a friend. I didn’t need to talk now, I only had a little time to get ready, so I decided not to answer. Then I thought, “She may be at the rec center. Maybe something happened with Jackson. And, she’s an EMT!! Answer it!! Answer it!!”

I do, and I hear dispatch sounds, and then muffled scratching. Butt dialed.

Phew!

I finish getting ready and then head back over the fields. Now, it’s a flurry of activity with soccer practices all over the place and some football kids too.

E asks if she can go get J. I tell her sure, but let me get you across the parking lot. She doesn’t like that she can’t just go do it herself.

I point out where her brother is practicing and she goes and gets him when he’s done.

And he is fine.

It is 10 am and already 88 degrees. He is hot and wants to take a shower. I finish up saying hello to some mom friends of mine and we go to the car. He is hot and wants to take a shower. But he is excited. He is not complaining and he is not frustrated that he was out there for an hour and a half running plays.

He is ready for this. He is mature enough for this.

Part of being a parent is knowing when to let go, but it is also knowing, and trusting yourself enough to know that your child is not yet ready. Even if you think he is. Even if the majority of his peers are ready, he may not be.

And that is okay. He will get there and, when he does, he will be confident and ready.

I am so proud of his judgment. That he knows he’s not there yet for some experiences, but more than ready for others. I am proud that he doesn’t really care what all the other kids are doing, and goes at his own pace.

There will come a day when he is off. When he is out there living his life on his own, independently. And that is indeed the goal. That he can live independently. Make a living, live on his own, find someone to share his life with and be happy in that life.

And when he does fly, I know he will soar. Because it will be his life, the way he chooses to live it.

All on his own terms. In his own time.

And I will be there cheering him on. And over time, I will be doing it from farther and farther away all the while, having him closer than he will ever know, in my heart.

Jbear


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