Friday, August 26, 2011

A Momentary Lapse

We were at Anna's school for "Back to School Night" tonight (she attends a private Christian school just down the road from our house). Ironic, since school doesn't start until Monday -- actually, midway through the event we learned it will start Tuesday due to Hurricane Irene.

I knew we were in for trouble when they announced that rather than the kids going straight to their classrooms this year with their supplies, there was going to be an informational meeting in the gym. We had Ethan with us. He doesn't mind sitting for extended periods of time when music is involved. Listening to the school headmaster talk for an hour (hour!) is another matter.

Dan decided to take him out of the room to wander the halls. Then we switched and I gave Ethan a snack. By the time they dismissed the hoard of kids and parents to the classrooms, his tolerance meter was on low.

He didn't want to walk into the classroom. I thought it'd be okay to let him play with a car in the hallway, but then he proceeded to lie down on the floor with the car, blocking people's way. He didn't want to move. Dan thought we should make him go in the classroom. I disagreed. Somehow we had a silent argument amongst the flurry of parents, kids, siblings, new second grade teacher, and bags of school supplies.

I wanted to do the right thing for my son. I wanted to make sure I was paying attention to my daughter. I wanted to meet the teacher. I wanted to not argue with my husband in front of everyone. I wanted the stupid poison ivy reaction in the midst of all this that I was having to go away. And yes, I wanted my son to just get in the stupid room and play inside for a second so we could just do this without extra stress.

In the car home, I realized what was really bothering me. Had Ethan not been given an autism diagnosis, this would have been the year he'd be starting school with Anna (rather than the local public school, with all of the extra services he needs). In just a few seconds, that wispy longing for that other life rose up and flooded my insides. By the time we got home, I had to sit down on the couch for a minute and just let the tears fall while Dan and Anna were putting something in the garage.

Ethan came up to me. He looked and saw me crying.

"Are you crying, Mamma?" he asked.

"Yeah," I sniffled.

"Are you scared?" he then asked.

"No, I'm not scared, I'm sad," I replied.

He didn't hear me. "What are you scared of?" he instead asked.

"No, Ethan, I'm SAD," I enunciated.

He was silent for a moment. Then he began to stroke my arm ever so gently. "It's okay," he said softly. He was repeating something I have done for him so many times before. "It's okay."

"It's okay, mamma," he kept saying softly. "Peace...peace." As I so often pray over him. A script, yes, but one so beautiful.

Peace. My son's words soaked into my heart. I looked and could only see his big eyes and hopeful smile. I couldn't be sad anymore.

There will be these moments. There will always be these moments. But tonight, I thank God He used my son to bring me back.

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