I’ve been thinking a lot about Cooper attending kindergarten next year. Right now he goes to an autism preschool at the actual elementary school. He rides the bus. Which is great. His class has 4 other kiddos in it. And every day they join the typical 4K kiddos.
It is a completely controlled setting. It’s 3 hours long and Cooper has a teacher and an aide and a speech therapist and an occupational therapist. He lives in a bubble.
When I went to the open house this year I watched Cooper explore the room. He offered no signs of excitement. Or that he knew where he was. He didn’t care to show me anything. He started to destroy the room. I’m not joking. He took that mother down. Puzzles were thrown, chairs were pushed off tables, books were knocked off shelves.
I started to sweat and smile. His teacher is amazing and helped us out. She was not at all phased. She loves Cooper. That is evident.
I met two of the other kids in his class. Two boys. One sat on his mother’s lap the whole time. And he talked. The other one asked me to do a puzzle with him. He asked me verbally. He sat down with me. And played.
When those two boys and their families left I immediately make a joke to his teacher that I had the worst autistic one. How the hell is this possible? How do I have the worst one? She laughed and hugged me and told me I was being silly. She is truly great.
But it sucked. Cooper couldn’t even walk down the hallway. He rolled. And screamed.
I got an email the other day that Cooper refused to take a school picture. To the teacher it was no big deal. (PS his teacher is absolutely amazing!) Why would it be. Cooper isn’t even in kindergarten yet. Who really cares if he is in the elementary school year book?
I care. This mama cares.
I care for little reasons. I want a school picture for the wall at home. I want to order the pictures, cut them out and give them to our family.
I care because I dressed him super cute and spiked his hair. We talked all about pictures. And he had no idea was I was saying. Or showed no sign that he did.
When I told people/friends/family why I was down that day I got the same answer from every single one. Who cares. It’s just a school picture.
I care for big reasons.
I care because this is a sign of ALL of the things Cooper will most likely never do.
So, yes, it’s a silly picture. But it’s also my future.
Cooper should be playing t-ball. Or soccer. He should be joining in activities at school. And making friends. He should be telling me about his day. Or bringing something to show-and-tell.
But he’s not. He’s not doing any of it.
So that dumb school picture means a lot to me.
I could lie and act tough. But I do that with everything else.
I’m getting really sick of pretending like stuff doesn’t matter. It’s like I have to not get sad to make it through the autism journey. That is so not true.
Cooper didn’t know he was starting school. He didn’t know he had brand new school clothes or shoes or a backpack. He didn’t help me pick out snacks for his class. He wasn’t excited to start his first day.
It’s not fair. So it’s not just about a picture. It’s about all of it.
So I want to say to all of the parents out there that don’t get to experience the ‘typical’ stuff with their kiddo…It’s ok to care. I get it. It’s ok to be really sad about something that seems silly to everyone else.
I just want you to know that.
I feel like people are around me are always trying to harden me to autism. Or to being a parent to an autistic kid. Or maybe they are trying to play it off to make me feel better. Or lessen my feelings. Or maybe they just don’t know what to say.
And that’s bullshit.
Just say it sucks. It’s ok to say to someone, ‘that really, truly sucks. I would be sad too.’
You are human.