Happy 9th Birthday

Tomorrow will come, just like every other day.  It will start early, because that’s how his days start.  And later I will put on the “Responsible, I know what I am doing hat” and bluff my way through meeting the teachers.  Then a few days later, I will load him on that yellow bus and hope the ride goes smoothly.  And that’s how it will be the rest of the year.  Me pretending to know what Im doing, him trying his hardest to understand a world that doesn’t put any effort into understand him.

But its also his birthday.  Nine.  Already.

Ages have never really bothered me, but something about this year has been different.  Something about the number nine.  You + 9 doesn’t add up to reality.

Statistically speaking, they say you wont succeed much past this point.  A future isn’t on the radar for you, and almost as if you were dead, they speak about you in the third person – and with little hope.  As if you were on you were on your way out.  They say that college and marriage will never be considered.  And you will never have much of a job, you will live here forever.  As if they can tell the future.  Somehow, with their messed up numbers they have decided that your future – is not worth pursuing.

Eight was a year filled with difficult days, and trying moments.  But it was also filled with much celebrated and anticipated victories – that maybe no one else noticed.  Because statistically speaking, you should have already hit those “milestones.”  Nine seems to be the year of transition.  You are no longer that little boy, but not quite grown up yet.  Stuck somewhere on the balancing beam of life, and in a blink of an eye – you will be a young man – no longer a child.

For the past five years, we have fought our way through the thick trenches of life.  You have come further than anyone ever thought was possible, and have always proved that you will do what you want, when you want.  As if taking control of the one area of your life that you can.  And that’s ok.  Learning to work with you, learning to help you, has been difficult.  Its been trying.  Its been downright discouraging.  But those victories?  Are just as high as the lows are low.

Simple things, mean more.  Easy doesn’t mean easy.  But success isn’t just measured in great numbers, and big things.  Success is found at the end of a dirt road, in a run down house, where a boy finally, after many years of struggling and trying – puts his pants on backwards, and pulls his mismatched socks on.  Success is found under the roof of our house when at seven years old – we finally put the last of the pull ups away.  Its found when you go into a crowded store, and walk out in one piece.  Its found in the simple, mundane tasks.

People are so often looking for the big, earth shattering events.  Looking for the next “big story” and whats popular.  They look for whats in, and what they think matters.  They are so busy searching, they over look whats right in front of them.

They hear the word “Autistic” and place you in a box with hundreds of others.  And leave you there.  Because to them, the word is foreign, and means nothing except “Different” and to them…different is synonymous with “Wrong.”  And instead of offering you a hand, or giving you space, or listening to what those who really know you are telling them – they shut you out and make you try harder.  They ask how one can know you when you don’t speak.  They wonder how you can have preferences and cares, and feelings – when you don’t show anything except “coldness.”

But you know what?  It doesn’t matter what they say.  It doesn’t matter whats popular, or whats in.  It doesn’t matter who is going to be popular, and who is getting rich.  It doesn’t matter that someone might go onto college and become a billionaire.  Because come tomorrow – you will turn nine.  And your day will start just like every other day starts.  Early.  With your own routine.  With your own style.

And in a few days – you will go to school, and you will do awesome.  You might not pass every test, you might not get the best grades, you might not be the teachers favorite, and you might not have a million friends.  You might not even be popular.  But you will be there.  And you will be doing your best, and trying your hardest.  And when the day is over, you will come home.

And you know what?  That’s ok.  You dont need to be perfect, you just need to be you.  And being you – makes you perfect already.

Happy Birthday Josh.

Heres to hoping that nine is the best one yet.

– Your Uncle

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