It’s been almost three years. Three years since I tried to pull the shades down on the too-bright light of my fear. Three years since those whispering-drowning-it’s-all-your-fault dreams.
It’s been almost three years since I knew that something wasn’t quite right. Since I stood in my little boy’s pediatrician’s office.
I remember standing there, waiting, waiting, and thinking thinking and knowing and not wanting to know, and finally – with shaking hands and a too-dry mouth, said “I don’t think Tucker’s talking enough.” “I think something is wrong.”
I said it and exhaled.
My hands may have calmed. My mouth may have relaxed. Or, I may have held my breath, just a little bit or a lot a bit. I remember knowing that it was my fault, somehow.
I remember that my little boy was just a little boy.
I remember when his doctor asked me what the longest sentence Tucker had uttered had been, and I replied that just that week, he’d uttered an intelligible “truck fell down.”
Tucker’s doctor assured me that three-word sentences were good for a barely two-year-old. I didn’t push. I didn’t say that too many of his other words sounded like “ah.”
Surely, any day would be TheDay.
Surely, any day would be the one to bring my son his words.
He didn’t say another three-word sentence, with the exception of “Mommy, go do bubbles?” for almost two more years.
The calendar pages flipped, and I procrastinated seeing what I already knew.
Then, too quickly and too slowly, it was time for Tucker’s 2 ½ year check-up.
And once again, with shaking hands and a too-dry mouth, I said “I don’t think Tucker’s talking enough.” And, they listened, because I listened. I listened to the fear.
Autism. Fear. Worry. Hope.
Teachers. Letting go of Montessori dreams and letting new dreams in. Letting go of the nightmares. Freeing flying dreams can’t come until the falling faulty ones have gone.
I trusted and I hoped. I said yes to 27 1/2 hour school weeks. Two years ago, I walked my barely three-year-old boy to the entrance of an elementary school that housed his Preschool Autism Classroom (PAC).
I armed his teachers with a list of Tuck Talk.
I prayed that he would feel safe. Loved. That his teachers would be able to interpret his “words” and know that “ah” meant water. That “ah” would not be confused with “hah,” which was not a request for water, but for a toy helicopter. That he’d find a way to get water when he was thirsty. What if he thought that he was abandoned? What if he didn’t understand why he wasn’t with me all day, and thought it was because I didn’t want to be with him all day?
I cried. I whispered “please, please, please” to nobody and to everybody who lives in hope and in space and in mind and in spirit.
My little barely-three-year-old boy is now almost five. And he speaks. Not always intelligibly to those who do not know that “caruff” is careful, “mu-isk” is music, “go-woah” is girl, and that “moffs” is small. But he speaks. He has his words.
Tucker’s teachers and therapists gave him words.
This week, he graduated from preschool.
With airplanes and helicopters and sunshine.
We celebrated with a huge party, and a bounce house.
With out-of-town visitors. My mom, from Bozeman, MT. My husband’s parents, from Tennessee. We celebrated with the harbor.
And with the beach.
With playgrounds and silly faces.
With a graduation ceremony, and little “Class of 2014” visors.
We jumped, and swam, and cried a little bit.
But mostly, we celebrate.
We are thankful.
We are blessed.
I’d like to thank all of Tucker’s teachers, therapists, family, and friends. You helped my little boy grow and learn and be. I will forever be grateful to Tucker’s amazing team. You know who you are. We love you.
Your hosts: A Fly on our (Chicken Coop) Wall, Amycake and the Dude, Considerings, Finding Ninee, Getting Literal, I Want Backsies, Mother of Imperfection, Rewritten, Thankful Me, The Wakefield Doctrine
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To continue Tucker’s preschool celebration, we’re heading up to Lancaster, PA for a water park and a Thomas the Train day with his best friend Michael. I’ll be back in the blogosphere on Monday. Happy weekend, friends! We are thankful for you.