Here we are on the eve of the last day of school for my third grader. We had our IEP a few weeks ago. It went swimmingly well. I realize now that I never mentioned it on the blog or the Facebook Page... and I realize now that I have written hardly anything about Jack, or autism, in the last few months. There are 2 reasons. 1) Epilepsy took over our lives for a little bit there. 2) There is very little to write about that hasn't been said about Jack.
And that, my friends, is a good thing.
The other night, the four of us were talking on the couch. Jade was asking us if she was ever going to leave the house we are in now. Julie and I were fantasizing again about the house we want to buy atop the Sierra Nevadas. The mountain house we want to retire in. The mountain house we want to die in. The mountain house we saw as a young couple on the most romantic drive we ever had, almost 20 years ago. The same drive we watched the sun go down over the Northern Truckee River and listened to "Not Dark Yet" by Bob Dylan over and over again. The drive we fell deeper in love over.
The mountain house that we both wanted to be scattered from.
Third grade was amazing for all of us. We had an amazing teacher. We had an amazing team. We made amazing friends. We caught up academically. We caught up socially.
But I had very little to do with any of that success. Sure I did homework. Sure I drove to therapies. Sure I filled out permission slips.
But it was all Jack, this year. This year it was all my boy. I'm always careful to thank Jack first for his successes, they are, after-all his to own. But this is the first year I've really, honestly, entirely, and humbly meant it.
I am so proud of how hard you have worked this year.
So proud of you facing fears, discomfort, and uncertainty and rising above.
Jack, did you know that this year at your IEP you had some services cut for next year? The advocates in your mother and me protested. The parents in us beamed with pride. Why?
Because they were the proper cuts, not because you had "aged out" of them, but rather because you had "graduated" them. We celebrate that those OT services are now available to another student. That extra 30 minutes of RSP can go to a new little girl that might need help reading.
You will start 4th grade with all of your peers, at grade level...
That's not say that there isn't work to still do, but you've done so much.
You we're talking with your mom tonight about tomorrow being the last day, and I can tell you were sad. I know it will be hard to say good-bye to your friends. I also know this is the first time you've ever struggled with that. I know this is a hard emotion for you to verbalize.
But you'll do it.
I will help you.
Back to the mountain house...
Jade wanted to know if she would move there with us. She wanted to know where she was going to go to college. She wanted to know where she would practice law.
Jack asked if he was moving with us to the mountain house.
Julie said "I don't think you'll live with us there, but you'll be close by. You'll probably be a trail guide or some sort of naturalist since you like hiking so much. But you can come over for dinner any time."
We all laughed. We had a great moment.
It wasn't until a few days later that it hit me.
Julie's fantasy involved Jack as an independent adult.
I'm 80 years old. The sun is going down over the river. My wife is a retired judge by my side still holding my hand. My daughter is off changing the world.
My son is off changing the world, too.
And I smile.
"I was born here and I'll die here.
Against my will.
I know it looks like I'm moving
But I'm standing still.
Every nerve in my body
Has grown vacant and numb.
I can't even remember what it was I came here to get away from.
Don't even hear a murmur of a prayer.
It's not dark yet
But it's getting there."
Not Dark Yet - By Bob Dylan
In the meantime, my boy...