September 8, 2010

First Day

Posted in Life's Little Moments tagged , , , at 6:27 am by autismmommytherapist

It’s the first day of school here, the first day that counts anyway, as both boys have finally gotten on their respective busses to be whisked off to their relatively expensive educations. It’s been ten days since I’ve written anything, and as always when I’m away from the keyboard this long I wonder if my voice will still be there, and equally important, will I be able to locate that precious slip of paper that’s been hosting the ideas I’ve had while running or driving in the car. I shuffle through the massive piles on my desk, the disarray that indicates yet another summer has passed, and with gratitude eventually locate my list. I reacquaint myself with the computer, apologize for my absence, and promise my worn gray keys I’ll do better.

I’m not as exhilarated as I usually am on the first day, what with being summoned by both children at least once during the course of the night, and at first I chalk my lack of exuberance up to fatigue. Minutes pass as I surf through emails I should have responded to in August, delete coupons for great deals I ignored over Labor Day weekend, and still, even as I ease into the blessed relief of “Kim time”, something doesn’t feel right. In my head I run through everything required to get the boys prepared for school, and even though I mentally check off everything I did to prepare them, my malaise does not lift. In this house, it is calm here. I am relaxed. My husband is up and in his office, and it is so, so quiet.

I realize that I miss them.

I acknowledge the emotion for two seconds, mentally slap myself, and get over it. After all, I’m damn lucky they’re in their individual programs, and even luckier I have the option to be home, somewhat detoxing from the season, engaged in the luxury of even having the time to think these thoughts. But before I thoroughly castigate myself for being entirely ridiculous after our seventy-seven days of summer (but who’s counting), I take just a moment to examine what this breach of tradition signifies. It is a unique moment, one that deserves reflection, as it deviates so significantly from vacations past.

I realize my shift in feelings is not simply because this is the first fall in eight years where I haven’t been pregnant, raising an infant or toddler, or contemplating conducting four to six hours a day of therapy with at least one child. No, this moment is more significant than that, particularly in regards to Justin. For as I sort through my emotions, analyze why I’m not jumping up and down even through the miasma of fatigue, I comprehend that in years past, I had been overwhelmed with relief to see Justin board that bus each September. For my eldest, summers past usually heralded a return of unwanted aggression, unappeasable cranky behavior, and in more recent years, hit-and-run potty training accidents. It was not that long ago that at the termination of one summer season a neighbor quietly pulled me aside, gestured toward the mottled blues and greens usurping the uneven tan of my arms, and asked me if everything was okay. I had to assure her that thankfully I wasn’t a battered woman, just a bruised mother, and that shortly the offender would be back in his routine, out of the house seven hours a day, and everything would return to “normal”.

I recall that her kindness, her solicitousness in her queries, later made me cry.

This summer, however, was different, blessedly calm in its demeanor, and once past Fourth of July, thankfully devoid of illnesses and for the most part, drama. Sure, there was an escalation of Justin’s OCD-like behaviors, eliciting a return to the round-the-clock “Justin-parent Velcro technique” Jeff and I have established to reduce the destruction of all we hold dear in the house. The heat and humidity have also ushered in a new aspect of Zachary’s personality, one which includes high-level anxiety regarding dogs, monsters under cribs, and for no apparent reason, flies. In their own way each child’s behavior has been daunting, particularly as my eldest continues to find every locale to which we take him to be utterly repugnant within half an hour.

And yet.

I’ve seen such growth with both children, not only in the elongating of their bodies, but the expansion of their minds. Zachary is increasingly curious, eager to introduce himself to complete strangers, peppering his running scripts more frequently with appropriate questions pertaining to his life and the world around him. Justin transitioned beautifully to four separate and new facilities, endearing himself through his affectionate nature to all around him, securing himself return invitations to both his camps and his special needs swim lessons next season. The general consensus, generalizing to all locales, was his nickname should be “sweetheart”. This is a huge shift in behavior for him. I am confident he did not evoke such sentiments last summer.

So, I acknowledge this milestone, take a few moments to bask in their progress, and revel in my release as well. I know that all too soon those yellow paragons of childhood will be depositing my sons at my doorstep, and my opportunity for reverie will be extinguished until the next day. I smile to myself, thank the universe for a swell summer, and contemplate the short expanse of time I have to complete the myriad of tasks I must conquer before 11:30 heralds the arrival of son number two.

And for a few brief seconds, just a few, I allow myself once again to miss them.



  1. Cindy said,

    Yes, today is the day for missing. It’s bittersweet sending them back to school.

    I’m pretty sure you’ll be over it by tomorrow.

  2. misifusa said,

    I agree…enjoy this moment of reflection, write it down and when we’re having a long lunch in the fall and you’re enjoying some well-deserved freedom, I’ll remind you of this tender moment. 🙂

  3. LZ said,

    Personally, I’m a nervous wreck. Today is my son’s kindergarten orientation, with tomorrow being the first full day of school. He has never been to school for more than 2.5 hours at a time, 3 days a week, and I am hoping desperately that he will be able to tolerate this new situation. Not only would it be a wonderful opportunity for him, but for the rest of our family as well. Among other things, the two things I hope for the most are that being with these children for that long will help him truly blossom, and that I can go back to work and reconnect with the outside world.

    Overshadowing it all, though, is the thought that keeps me that nervous wreck…”please God, let the other children be kind to him, and accept him for who he is.”

    • I know, I know! How did it go?

      • LZ said,

        Pfft. It went great. I asked him how his day was, and he said “I played on the playground, and I DIDN’T FALL!!” The next day, his first true day, I asked again, and heard that “I didn’t fall TWICE!!

        Oh, the innocence of a child… 🙂

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