Nine

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Yesterday morning, my little dude jumped into my bed and greeted me by accidentally slamming his skull into my nose while I was still asleep, jolting me instantly awake. It was an appropriate metaphor for how he arrived into the world on the same day, nine longshort years ago.

It was a most wonderful ninth birthday. While he still had to attend school, it was far from a regular academic day. The entire third grade was participating in a “Dances of the World” exhibition. Nine years to the day after my baby was born, he was dancing in a show with the entire third grade! Despite missing an entire week of practice due to the flu, he did great! He sang the songs and danced all of his steps in perfect harmony with his classmates. His Daddy and I were so proud.

After the show, all of the parents were invited to a buffet lunch with all of the third graders. It was extremely crowded and very loud so after snatching a few sweets, we headed out into the hallway to sit in a calmer environment. My little pal crawled into my lap to rest. He had definitely earned it. I’m more than happy to have him in my lap any time he wants to be there. I know that the days that he will be able to fit on my lap are numbered and I wish I could freeze time, just for a little while. Here, in my arms, he is safe and protected. It’s calming for both of us.

His dad and I were able to join him when he and his friends headed back to the classroom. We brought cupcakes and sang happy birthday with his friends and wonderful teacher and para.
We watched (from across the room) as the class made special gifts to surprise their families with for Christmas.

When we arrived home it was gift opening time! The Hess helicopter, a Lego set, some books, and the long awaited Nintendo 3DS were waiting for him. His requested “favorite” dinner (a cheese quesadilla) and his favorite ice cream with nine candles in it (he was definitely “caked-out” at this point) finished off the day.

We are so blessed to have this little boy in our lives. He is funny and kind, smart and creative. He loves everyone he meets and charms all he encounters with his toothy smile.

Raising a child with autism comes with some tremendous challenges. Our kids learn and interact differently than typical children but they aren’t any less loved. They aren’t any less miraculous. My little boy danced his heart out on that stage and the thing that stuck out to me the most was how easily he blended in with everyone else. He fit perfectly into place with every other typical third grader.

Today especially, I feel incredibly blessed.

Happy Ninth Birthday, baby! We love you!

An Open Letter To My Child’s School

The following is a copy of the letter I sent to my child’s school this morning (minus identifying details of course).

An Open Letter to the Entire Staff of (my child’s school),

There are many words that one can use today but the word that I choose to use the most right now is thanks.

To all of you who work at (the school), I’ve watched you. I’ve seen you smile at our children. I’ve seen you reassure a child who is sad. I’ve seen you gently guide a child who has gotten into a bit of mischief. I’ve seen you even offer a hug to a distressed child when today’s society dictates distance. It makes you human. It makes you heroes.

I know when I send my child into your building for the majority of his day, that I am sending him off to be with people who love and care for him. I know that every one of you would protect your charges as though they were your own because in so many ways, they are.

Teachers, secretaries, therapists, and school leaders should never have to consider themselves in the role of first responder. And yet in today’s world of disturbed individuals, we all need to be prepared for everything.

Today I say thank you – to every single employee at (the school). Thank you for practicing drills to keep our children safe. Thank you for offering kindness to our children and demonstrating kindness with one another. Thank you for putting our children and their safety first.

Thank you for the peace of mind I have knowing that my child will be as safe as possible in his classroom today because every single one of you makes it so.

With gratitude and respect,

TenaciousCee

Note:
I received the following email from the principal of the school later the same day-

Dear Mrs. —–

Thank you for taking the time to acknowledge my staff. Your letter was beautiful and heartwarming. I had a full faculty conference today after-school and I read your letter aloud to my staff.

Safety and education are our two main responsibilities! As you know, we take both of them extremely seriously.

Thank you!

(name withheld to maintain his privacy)