In the years we’ve been in school, there seems to be that one kid in each grade. You know what I’m talking about right? Everyone at school knows who he or she is, including the parents. For lack of a better word, he might be a mascot of his grade level…..known and loved (or at least accepted on certain levels), but somehow in his own world at the same time. It hit me this morning, my kid might be that kid. Sigh……
Everyone seems to know him, or at least a lot of people know who he is. This is great, right? He has caring eyeballs on him, making sure he’s okay, that no one is giving him a hard time, that he’s safe. I feel better knowing he’s cared for when I drop him off every morning. But when your child gets out of your car sporting giant, blue, noise-blocking headphones, carrying his comfort items, and/or a giant, fluorescent orange, stuffed shark, he’s a little conspicuous. There’s no hiding he’s different. Most kids in the upper grades know this is just Little Man, and this is how he rolls. My kid is that kid.
Parents I don’t know, or don’t know that well, will come up to me and talk to me about him, about an interaction they may have had with him. They will ask how he’s doing, how this school year is going. Granted, I do put our lives on blast, particularly my journey as mom to an autism spectrum kid, through this blog. There are advantages and disadvantages to this, but it obviously doesn’t stop me writing.
He is that kid. I never thought I’d be the parent to that kid. I never even stopped to wonder how they felt about their kid being that kid, until I became aware my kid is that kid. How do I feel about it? I’m not completely sure. Some days, it’s quite all right. Some days, it’s so heartbreaking I can hardly breath. He’s an amazing kid, so smart, so witty, and creative. Then you see him sitting at his desk in the corner of the room, tears rolling silently down his face as he has become overwhelmed and overdone with the work it takes him to get through the day. He can’t hide the fact he’s different (most days, I wouldn’t want him to), and he is that kid – the one everyone knows. There’s no such thing as “under the radar” with him. Do I sometimes wish everyone knew him for some other reason than his autism? Certainly. But I also believe him being that kid is a safeguard at this point in his life. Watchful eyes and loving hearts to keep him safe, and lots of cheerleaders too.