Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Last Day of School

Today was the last day of school. We partied. We played. We ate popsicles.
Then I put my kids on the bus for the last time and they went home.

Eight months ago, when I accepted this job as a special ed para, I was sure that I would not be crying today. I was sure that I would not be longing to keep in touch. I was sure that I would not be wondering how their futures would pan out. I was sure that I would walk out the door unattached, unaffected, and ready to go.

And in many ways, I am ready to go. But not before I cried. Just a little. Just because.

Because these kids have grown on me.
They've educated me.
They've challenged me.
And they've loved me.

I spent most of the last eight months hanging out with two kindergartener boys, Trenton and Devon. I pretty much loved them the second I saw them--so as you can see, I didn't really stand a chance.
I learned their patterns.
I learned what made them cry.
I learned what made them laugh.
I learned to-not-walk-by-that-room-with-that-person-unless-holding-Trenton's-hand-otherwise-he'll-sprint-away-at-surprising-lightning-speeds-for-a-five-year-old.
I learned that Devon-only-likes-cars-or-play-dough-when-he's-unhappy, but-not-Goldfish-crackers-or-blocks.
I learned given-two-extra-seconds-Trenton-will-find-the-Cheezit-stash-and-he-will-open-the-childproof-lock.
I learned the Devon-responds-much-better-to-directions-after-he's-finished-doing-whatever-he's-doing-because-otherwise-he'll-flip-out-and-throw-a-fit (this only took four months for me to recognize).
I learned that bubbles cheer up any day.
And love can be felt without words.

Because we haven't had a lot of words at our disposal. Autism robs my boys of this. But what it takes away in words it gives in creativity. We've learned to connect in other ways and I'm grateful. I hope that my communication has been as clear. Because at the end of the day, I care less about whether or not they washed their hands or followed directions. The only thing that matters to me is this:  
Did they know they were loved? 

I think they did.
And I know this because Trenton never fought our "morning hug" ritual.
And I even got a smile out of him sometimes. 
Because Devon would give me a sly and playful look when he was about to disobey.
And Trenton would ask "spin" and we'd dizzy ourselves in flight.
Because Devon would come to me with "ouchie"s.
And Trenton would bury his head in my chest when he cried.
Because Devon would say "wook!" and point at a creation he knew I would admire.
And Trenton would slip his hand in mine as we walked down the hallway together.
And there are few things better than that. 

I didn't get to say "goodbye" to Trenton and I know it's probably a selfish wish of mine. He hasn't been at school the past few days and it broke my heart that he wasn't there today either.

But if he was, I would've told him the same thing I told Devon today as I buckled him into his seat on the bus: "Devon, I'm going to miss you. You matter. I hope you know how much I care about you. Bye."

And as he dazed out the window mesmerized by the flittering leaves in the trees, mostly oblivious to my presence at all, I like to think he was feeling the same thing too.


Mosier said...

He was. You matter to him, to both of them, very much. They love you and it was clear you loved them. Those little buggars grow on you which is why I long to be nothing but a mom, but know I will never be able to leave my job. I am a mother to 20 some kids every year. I gave birth to two children but I've loved more than one hundred kids now as my own. They've made me so happy, so angry, and so proud. I'm glad you loved them because you deserve that. I find little in my life more important than loving children and making sure they know that. I'm going to miss you Bo. Hardcore miss you. You're darn good at what you did with those little men. They'll always remember you.

KendraKay at said...

How wonderful! That's a year well spent. :)