But last night was a different story.
We took David to “back to school night.” And by “took,” I mean we literally dragged him into the building. He wasn’t exactly kicking and screaming, but it was clear that he was not happy about being there. The “we” of course was Michael and me, and if Michael hadn’t been with me I truly believe I would still be in the car trying to coax David inside, not being able to physically move him anymore if he does not want to be moved.
David was upset because school does not start until Monday the 20th and it very clearly is not Monday the 20th. But still, we are making him work, getting him used to his new shoes and backpack, practicing the bus numbers, talking about his new teacher and classroom. Each time we mention school, David will lead us to the giant calendar that hangs inside our front door and, with a wide motion, sweep his arm across a row (the week of the 13th—this week) and proclaim, “I have ONE MORE WEEK!”
So there we were, in the door of his classroom, one at each side like (out of shape and sweaty) secret service agents, and we had to push him inside—in front of the other parents, in front of the other kids, in full view of his new teacher and, at the time, I was embarrassed.
But now, I realize that what I was feeling was not really embarrassment, but sadness.
I am sorry that this encounter is the first thing that they will know about David—that they did not get to see his engaging smile, or hear him giggle. I am sad that they did not see the really great kid that I see, the kid that he is most of the time. I am truly upset that they will never know how hard he works or how difficult some things are for him, things that come so easily for other kids.
Last year, David had friends. Last year, David got invited to birthday parties. Last year, David had little girls, calling for his attention in the hallway. Last year, David had admirers and brought home notes in his backpack.
But I know that, at some point, kids will become less forgiving and that quirky will no longer be considered cute, just plain old quirky.
On the walk out of the building, which incidentally was much easier than the one into the building, I ran into a friend. She had seen our struggle earlier and asked with a smile if she was going to go home and read about it later on my blog. I answered that it was too soon. I couldn’t write about it, yet, because I did not yet see the humor in it.
And I guess I still don’t exactly find it funny, but the passage of 24 hours has brought some perspective.
What difference did it really make?
Seriously, what difference did “back to school night” really make? Twenty five students in the classroom divided by a one hour school visitation equals less than three minutes with the teacher, and boy did David make a splash with his three minutes.
To continue the swimming imagery for a moment, it is like the swimmer who qualifies in the last spot of the prelims and goes on the win the gold medal. To date, David has always been able to rally when it counts and, fingers crossed, Monday will go swimmingly well.
And, as for the other kids, I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it.