Its that time of year again. The time where every other parent sighs heavy relief that school is finally back, and the other parents are left clinging to whats left of their children because they are growing up so quickly. For whatever reason, this year it seems that most parents are having a hard time with this whole back to school thing, and while the advertisements for “Great deals” are as heavy as ever, the push to get the kids ready – hasn’t been there this year. Ive had to check a number of times just this past week when school actually starts, because really? Im not ready either.
I read a post I wrote last year this time, and nodded in agreement with everything I said. Because once again – I am having a hard time with this whole raising a special needs kid business.
In a few days (9, to be exact) he will be turning 9. In years past, the birthday number really didn’t do much for me. Sure he was getting older, but look! Progress! We can do this! But this year, the progress has slowed. Some back tracking has been done, and the realization that he might not be able to mature past this age? Is more real than ever. His differences are more and more obvious to not only the kids around him, but to him as well. And the harder he tries to put them aside and “blend in” the more obvious it becomes.
With school starting in a few short weeks, I am left with a sick sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. One that makes me want to wrap him up, once again, and protect him from the cruel world. Because his innocence is still somewhat intact, despite what hes been through. I wish, once again, that he had parents devoted to helping him succeed. Not just a lousy excuse for an uncle who can barely remember to make it to his appointments on time.
I wish, for his sake, that he had better.
He has spend his entire summer just being a kid, for as far as the summer would allow. He followed Dylan around like a lost puppy, threw rocks in the river, and watched the bears feed in our back yard. For the entire summer I didn’t think about problems with school, and socializing, or comparisons. He was Josh, and he was a pretty darn cool kid. His differences didn’t stick out – because there was nothing to compare him against. His shortcomings didn’t stand out like red against white. He played, he laughed, he got dirty, and he spent the summer just exactly as he wanted. Because we had nothing to accomplish, and nowhere to go.
And now. Its fall.
Its time to stuff feet into a bigger pair of shoes, wrestle the pants on and pray they stay on for the majority of the day, and begin the daily struggles of making it outside in the pouring rain on time. And of course, the differences.
When lined up, among peers, the differences are like night and day.
Gone are the carefree afternoons of leisure.
Some could argue that I could have done more for him this summer, and their arguments would be legit. I should have. I could have. But at what cost? I still believe that he is a child who needs to experience childhood. I still believe he needs to run and play, and scrape him knees, and overcome his fears. I still believe that he is a boy with a wild sense of adventure. And I still believe there will be enough hours spent inside, learning from the books.
This year, as summer comes to a close, its hard to say good bye. Because I don’t honestly know what next summer will bring. Hes different than he was last year. His peers are different. Hes entering an age where differences are not tolerated as well. Hes going to a school, with a naïve sense about him – unaware of what lays ahead. And how can I prepare him, when I don’t even know?
All I can do is soak up the days with him, and hope that somehow, the gaps he has – are filled, not widened. And that the holes he has, are filled, not deepened.