I’ve written about some favorite summertime memories over the past few months. At times, I documented them as they were happening. Others were shared after the fact, once I’d realized that they had happened and were unexpectedly wonderful. I wrote about Life’s Turning Points and celebrated when Tucker said “Happy to YOU!” on his fourth birthday.
It’s hard to choose a single summertime memory as a favorite. Some from this one include the nights that I ignored my computer, and you, and snuggled up with my husband to watch True Blood. They include unplanned moments of laughter and levity and amazement. The beach. Waterplay. Giggles and tickles and Tucker “getting” imaginative play. Flying ninees and blowing bubbles. We had perfect moments. We had getting dirty and wet and having to strip at the door kind of fun.
We had summer.
Tonight, as I type this at the lastminute (as in, worse than usual), I just tucked Tucker in (tucking in tuckered-out Tucker)…and for the first time ever, he said “No, Mommy. Right here,” when I said goodnight. That’s a favorite. New. Him getting IT, getting goodnight, getting snuggles on a new level.
I’m going to tell you about a summertime memory that will stay with me forever. I don’t know that it’s a favorite but I know that it has been a right of passage. It represents me, letting go a little bit. Me realizing that sometimes, what doesn’t seem okay at all may later become a relief. A gift.
When Tucker’s teachers came to my home more than a year ago to talk to me about the programs they had, and to explain what Preschool Autism Class (PAC) and Non-categorical preschool (non-cat) for developmental delays was, I was shocked that PAC was six and a half hours long, three days a week. The other two days were almost three and four hours. First hearing that was like hearing my dreambubble pop.
Tucker was supposed to go to Montessori school. Like I did. And he was supposed to go for maybe three days a week, for three hours at a time.
When his now-teacher first said that she thought PAC would be a good fit for him, I said “Well, but he doesn’t have autism.” She assured me that it didn’t matter but thought I should consider the program – that it would help him. I can’t tell you how many hours my husband and I talked about what to do. I can’t remember now how often I cried over the fact that I wasn’t touring preschools on my terms.
Eventually, we agreed to try PAC for a few weeks. Secretly, I was convinced that we’d pull him out after the trial period. Except for when we didn’t. Because it was working.
Another benefit was that we were able to access the county’s transportation option. As in, we qualified to have The Short Bus pick Tucker up and drop him off, every single day. Right in front of our house. An aide and a driver, taking him to and from school each day. For free.
Of course I refused. Who wouldn’t? I mean, come on. Everybody knows that fate is more easily controlled when mom is behind the wheel, right? Plus, there are horror stories about special needs kids riding the bus. I much preferred the control of walking him to and from the arms of his teachers to waving bye-bye to him while he rounded the corner without me on a bigboy bus. So yeah, I refused the free short bus and drove Tucker to and from school each and every day. For nine months.
Until I learned about the summer school schedule. Until I learned that he’d be off for a few weeks in July and then again for almost a month in August. That, in between those breaks, his school hours would be shortened to four hours/day.
Never mind that the four hours/day was much closer to my then unpopped bubble of a dream. By then, I’d gotten a job, had created Finding Ninee, and I needed those hours.
Selfish, perhaps. But the job and this blog have done Big Goodthings for me. For us.
So. Back in May, just before summer school was going to begin, I added Tucker to the bus schedule. I talked about car seat options and purchased a voice-activated tape recorder to hide in his backpack. I stayed up most of the night the first day he was going to have the bus pick him up. That morning, in tears, I rambled on to the bus driver that he was instructed to turn around immediately if Tucker was upset. If he was scared. If any of the anythings I’d imagined would happen were even hinting at happening. It took superhuman strength to not get in my car and follow that bus to school.
That first day, Tucker did cry a little bit once he realized that I wasn’t strapping in next to him. But after that? The bus has been good fortune. It’s actually made it easier for me to get Tucker out the door every morning. And each afternoon that he gets off of it wearing a gigantic grin while exclaiming “Tuck-uck! Bus!” is a victory.
The short bus saved my summer.
Every afternoon, we wave bye-bye to the bus as it leaves our stoop. Every afternoon, I no longer worry about the prying neighbor eyes wondering what’s wrong with my kid that we get door-to-door service. Every afternoon, I thank my county, my husband, myself, and my son for making this work. Because although I want to be everywhere that he is, protecting and reassuring him, I realize that by letting the bus deliver my baby to and from school is not only good for me, for my job, and for my blog, but that it’s good for my son. For the first time in his life, he’s been trusted to be a bigboy. And that, my friends, is important. And enough of a favorite memory for me.
What about you? What sticks in your mind this summer? I’d love to hear about it.
Also, do you guys know Kathy from My Dishwasher’s Possessed? She’s wonderful and amazing and we share undiagnosed kids. I mean, we don’t co-parent or anything in case you were working out how Robert fits into the equation. I mean, both of us parent…I mean there’s nothing wrong with co-parenting…it’s just that we don’t do it together…ugh. Never mind that part. Kathy’s dishwasher interviewed me this week and my answers are up at her place today. Check her out. I’m pretty sure you’ll love her.
Next week, 9/20 – our sentence is “I deserve a medal for the time I…”