Yesterday when I picked Charlie up from school (success, by the way), his teachers eagerly recounted a story from earlier in the day. During outside time, they sat Charlie down in his little chair and his teacher began to sing to him since he’s such a music lover. Before she knew it, a crowd of Preschool girls had formed around them with each little one begging to be the next one to sing to Charlie. All of them delighting in his smile and begging to take a turn. The teachers said he was just mobbed. I had hoped that school would teach Charlie that he’s not the center of the Universe. That might not be possible.
After school we swung by our small local grocery where the owner compliments him on how well he’s sitting up in the cart these days and the manager shouts “Charlie” trying to get Charlie to turn around. When it’s time for me to leave, that same manager rushes to grab my bags and take them out to the car because he knows I’ll have to wrestle Charlie’s uncooperative legs out of the cart.
Later in the evening I approached my first PTA meeting with utter trepidation. My husband did not want to attend (he preferred napping on the couch) and so I went alone. I took an empty seat next to a young mom and sat there debating whether or not to strike up a conversation. I knew that if I asked her a question about her child, then I would have to answer questions about mine and inevitably I would have to explain at least a bit about Charlie’s situation. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of Charlie, but I wasn’t sure how she’d react. Some people just start ignoring you once they realize that you’re not going to be able to compare art projects and height and weight percentiles. Don’t they realize that if they became friends with me, they could win every time for enternity? People should be fighting to hang out with me.
I finally did strike up a conversation (who am I kidding? I can’t shut up) and to my delight, when I told her my son was in Early Intervention Preschool she smiled and told me that she’d heard nothing but good things about the program. She asked if I like the teachers and if Charlie was enjoying school. I couldn’t have asked for a better response.
I don’t know what I envisioned for Charlie in his school and in the larger community. Some people have big ideals to be fulfilled with respect to their special needs child. I am not one of those people. I am content in the now. I’m sure that to some this post will seem strange since the last one was basically a complaint about someone in my community. It’s not perfect, but no place is perfect, and I believe that one negative comment cannot outweigh the many, many good things that I have seen and experienced. We are a part of of things, we are fitting in and finding our place, and for now, that is enough.