Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Knock on Wood

I haven't written too much about Jack here recently as it pertains specifically to his autism. One reason is that things are going really well. Honestly, though, that is when I should be writing about his autism. That's such a crucial part of the autism journey—those really wonderful even stretches that have gotten longer and more even as Jack gets older.

I'm a little afraid of jinxing us by saying all this, though.

Other than Jack's incredible little being, which is inherently wonderful, there are two big things that I credit with this even keel (along with about 800 little things): (1) Jack is getting older and more self-aware, and (2) Jack's school situation this year is wonderful.

I have started volunteering weekly in Jack's classroom, and yesterday was my second day there. I walked in to find the class working on a writing assignment. Those kids who had finished already were reading books. Jack was happily sitting in his teacher's comfy chair against the blackboard reading a book of poetry.


Sure, it was funny poetry, but I am so anti-poetry that it would never in a million years have occurred to me to offer him such a book. And, yes, I know it's a flaw, but I simply C.A.N.N.O.T. read poetry. I can't even make it to the end of a haiku, for the love of Christ.

It was really cool to see him reading, because at home he's not too interested in books, which is such a departure from Sam, who is rarely without a book. (Jack, on the other hand, is rarely without a Lego.)

Anyway, back to Jack's class. His teacher—Mrs. B—is amazing. The couple of times I've seen her interacting with Jack and the other couple of special needs kids in the class is phenomenal.

Like last week, when one of them didn't want to get off of the computer at the end of lab time, Mrs. B was firm but kind. When the boy did shut down his computer, she went out of her way to verbally acknowledge that she knew how hard it had been for him to do so, but she was proud of him for doing it. It would have been so much easier for her to just say "good job" or "thanks," but she didn't. She's really good with all of the kids in her class, and seems to be very fair.

I'm a little bit in love with her.

I honestly don't know what kind of fucking wormhole I walked through to get to this school where all the teachers are so good to Jack. I know that everyone is not so lucky, and I know that not every family even at this particular school is so happy, but for us, for Jack, good things are happening.

I'm not so terrified of my telephone anymore. I haven't talked to the principal or assistant principal in weeks.

Homework is even going pretty well. (And here is where I am REALLY knocking on wood, because homework has been the bane of my existence for two years.) It is certainly not Jack's favorite thing to do, but he'll sit down and do it.

For instance, yesterday, he happily sat down to do both his math and reading. I handed him a dusty copy of Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. (It is one of only two poetry books I own. The other one is A Light in the Attic.) He was delighted, and happily went on his hunt for three- and four-syllable words, per his assignment. It's terrific to watch.

Aside: Sam looked at the author photo on one of the books and said "He looks a lot more like a burglar or a pirate than someone who should be writing books for children." Which is true, but hysterical.

Jack's success is not all about compliance either. My whole goal for Jack in life is that he be happy. Nowadays, he seems happy at school.

When he gets off the bus at the end of the day, he still tells me every day that school was awesome. He's started telling me about a friend of his that he plays with at recess. I don't know how he met this kid, as he's a third-grader (not a second-grader like Jack), but Sam corroborates Jack's story. Plus I've seen this kid try to get Jack's attention in the hall. Mrs. B also tells me that Jack has started interacting a lot with the kid that sits across from him at his table. Plus, we also have Jack's fiancee-to-be, E, who lives around the corner.

Lest you get all annoyed at me and my smiles and sunshiny self, you should know that everything isn't perfect. (Not that I expect life to ever be perfect—for any of us.) For instance, yesterday we took an hour and a half long trip to get Jack a new hockey helmet that resulted in tears and a return home with...the exact same hockey helmet we left the house with. I still don't know what that was about.

But, you know what? For a long time, it seemed like we were taking one step forward, two steps back. Now Jack seems to be taking two steps forward and only one step back. I couldn't be more proud.

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