“If I’m the size of a nine-year-old, why am I only seven?” he said. I think about what to say to my not-so-little little boy, but I wait. I don’t want to imply that tall or short or anything between is good or bad.
It just is.
Our ability to form words or to not be able to.
To run. To be friendly or shy.
I tell him that size is something people see but it’s not one of the best things that makes us who we are. I talk about kindness, and remembering ourselves and other people when we’re angry or sad.
“Like when I was in preschool and got mad and hit my friend with a music instrument?” he asks. “Something like that,” I said. Amazed at the memories he has but couldn’t tell me about back then.
“So even though I’m the size of a nine-year-old, I’m still going to second grade, right?” he asks. “Exactly,” I said. We talked a little about school starting, and about how he’d asked a girl on the playground for a kiss. How she said no, and how that was okay. How it was even better that he’d respected her “no.”
We went swimming, and later, I told him about when I went to second grade. About how we moved to a new home that year. “I want to stay in my house forever,” he said. Which made me want to, too, in spite of our tiny crappy yard.
I thought about telling him about The Rickys, but didn’t, because I wasn’t sure whether me kissing a boy when I was six would make him feel good or bad. He’s so hard on himself already.
ABA therapy is both wonderful and really really hard. Like hard hard. So often, the therapy goes against a mom’s instincts and we have to learn. It’s the little moments. A kid, hitting when you’re not listening. Seeing the antecedent, and knowing why the behavior happens.
Rewarding and walking away.
It works, but it’s hard. When my son was small, and in preschool autism classroom and not talking, he couldn’t tell his classmates to step away when they got into his personal space.
He lashed out. He hit. He kicked. He made them get out of his space, even when that meant removing them from it physically.
On one of the first days he was potty-training, I dropped him off the same as I always did. Along with the other parents, I usually stayed as long as possible. Glimpses into our kids’ worlds back then were both mama-bear protectiveness and educational, because each of us was learning what to say or do when (fill in the blank).
A boy from his class ran into him, and my son kicked the boy. His teacher, doing ABA, yelled “NO!” and walked away. He cried so hard that he peed in his pants.
I went to him, and his teacher pulled me away as I cried. I can’t even type this without crying. It sucked that bad.
His teacher and I spoke for an hour. I thought about home-schooling but knew I didn’t really want to. I knew his teacher knew more than I did about this.
And you know what? She helped him talk. He started talking. She was right.
Summer’s almost over again, and so I booked a trip to the beach even though we’d agreed that we were done traveling until a visit with my family in October. We did other things for my son’s birthday this year (DOLLYWOOD!), and that we can be at a beach in three hours seems like we need to go. And so we’ll go. After all, school’s starting again soon and days at the beach are limited.
One day, my son will want to go to the beach with friends, and both of us will be grateful that I’m not there with him as he kisses a girl, or doesn’t. He’s going to respect her “no” though, as if I were there. At least, I’m planning and working on that.
I think about yesterdays at the beach, and I think about school starting in a couple of weeks, and I’m glad we’re going to the beach, and that we had an epic Minecraft birthday cake to celebrate seven. I’m grateful to my son’s preschool teacher who helped him speak, and to another who helped him get ready for second grade this summer. Finding grace in kindergarten lingers and continues to soothe my anxiety about his school days.
I think about kissing, and first crushes and school. About Gillian, and fear and shyness, and fall leaves crunching under our feet. About how the mornings are too cold for shorts and the afternoons being too hot for pants.
About my son, growing and learning, and about us having a couple more weeks of summer.
I sent an email to the principal the same way I’ve done each year and haven’t yet heard about placement. Turns out, they put a lot of the special needs kids together, which I get but am not fully sure of.
With days before the beach, and weeks before second grade, I’m going to continue to breathe and feel that grace will lead us, that the best teacher will teach him, and that the best me will be as involved or as removed as makes sense.
This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. This week’s topic is “Back to school…”
Link up with me (Kristi) from Finding Ninee.