Friday, March 24, 2006
Not So Scary
Every day I look forward to 3:00 o’clock. Not only is Dear Son home from school but that is the time the bus drives up and drops him off. On the little school bus, are all of Dear Son’s classmates, including Patrick. I started talking to Patrick some time ago and he is by far the most vocal student on the bus. At first, things seem surprisingly normal and Patrick could relay part of the school day and of course, his entire menu. I enjoyed talking to Patrick because I could get an idea of Dear Son’s day in the “first person” so to speak.
Patrick is a tall and big young man. He stands at 6’1” I am guessing, at 14 years old. My best guess is that he is mentally delayed or has autism although they are not at liberty to divulge his disabilities. What I do know about Patrick is his incredibly sunny disposition. He always greets me with a smile on his face and yells out my name, sometimes even prior to my coming out of the garage to greet the school bus. Some days, he repeats his menu and other days he’ll give me a one word synopis of the day.
Take yesterday, I asked him, “How was school?”, “Did you go for a walk outside?” It was a beautiful day and I was sure they took the kids outside. “Yes”, he said. “Animals”, he yelled out. “Animals”. Nothing more. I didn’t know what had transpired that day at school but somehow “animals” were involved. Upon arriving inside, I read about Dear Son’s day at school in the spiral notebook attached to the back of the wheelchair. I learned they went to the Humane Society for Recreation Therapy were they enjoyed seeing all the puppies and kittens. Hence, the "animals".
I have come to enjoy my conversations with Patrick. Quite honestly, I think about Patrick a lot, especially over the weekends when I don’t hear his sunny voice. I love how happy he is, like a glorious ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Some days, when Patrick repeats himself, I am thankful for the five minutes with him and not a full day. But overall, I enjoy him immensely.
Recently, I went to Dear Son’s classroom and Patrick yelled out, “Hello, Dear Son’s Mom!” when I walked into the room. He proceeded to identify all the kids in the classroom by their first name,although it was not requested. I thanked him for the introductions. I thought to myself, he has more manners than a lot of children today. It was at that time that I also learned about Hannah, his classmate and girlfriend. Patrick blushed when the information was divulged, but beamed nonetheless.
So all of this brought me back to the early days with Dear Son. I remember the office visits and learning that he would be severely mentally retarded. I remember reading the books about mental retardation where they described how it would be. I remember being terribly afraid of what life would be with a disabled child. When I read these books, I would end up holding Dear Son tightly in my arms, kissing and hugging him, more for me than for him. I did it because although I was afraid of the future, I knew that when I held and kissed Dear Son, that it was all o.k. I stopped reading the books after a while since I didn’t think they were giving me a good feeling about life with Dear Son and I decided to just “play it by ear”.
So, this is it. My five minutes with Patrick every day is far from scary and most enjoyable. Life with dear son is incredible. So, this is what I feared? Amazing, how sometimes it’s just nothing like what they make it.
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