Lesson Plan

Looking out the window – I note the beautiful day outside. Birds are flying, trilling and fluffing newly laid nests. Trees have bloomed, popping out flowers to puff pollen into the air, ensuring a lasting heritage for their kind. The air is still, yesterday’s stormy winds have left the air swollen with fragrance, kissed by the promise of a beautiful spring. The first season, Spring. Time for renewal, fresh starts, new growth, tilling the possibilities for a bountiful future harvest.

Like farmers with their precious crops in a field, parents grow their children. We parents nurture our children, teach them, learn from them only to ultimately let them go. As Graduation day approaches some of our children are gearing up, going to prom, taking finals and steadying themselves to plant the seeds to sustain the lives they will live.

In our family’s world, the segment of the community that dwells with a disabled son, we too anticipate a bright and bountiful future for our son. The son who was diagnosed Autistic at a very young age. The same boy who has been going to school since he was 3 and 1/2 years old. The 18 year old who is ready to take on the world in his own way.

Reflecting back, way back over all those years, it has been a phenomenally interesting journey. Our road that’s been full of peaks and valleys – on a path full of wonder, surprises and an enormous amount of humor. And now, standing at the gate to the future, I take a look at the past and recall some of the memories we’ve collected along the way:

The way my mother explained, in plain terms with blue language, that my devilish son looked her square in the eyes while he unlocked the door and attempted to exit her Mercedes car that day. She was trying to drive him back to preschool. He didn’t want to go. She “insisted”. He still didn’t agree and decided he was going to leave the car and her company. They were parked in the middle of a busy intersection. He didn’t care. His grandma did care…..sounds like my 4 year old, disabled, autistic son brought down the wrath of my mother that day. And from that moment, the moment he locked eyes with her, she never argued that he didn’t understand absolutely everything – including “get your ass back in this car young man before you get a licken you’ll never forget!”

The picture presented to me by my son’s favorite middle school instructional aid. The one where he hung 26 different colored sticky notes across his face, arms and shirt front. He was by himself in the teachers’ lounge for some reason, bored and had decided to take it on himself to break the afternoon monotony. “Lori”, “Hey, Lori??” “Need a sticky note or anything?” Laughter erupted – my son, the epic champion of classic deadpan humor.

The winter celebration dance staged by the local tribal casino. An event you never hear about that occurs twice a year. The Tribe picks up all the special education classes from all the districts around the city, drops them off at the casino in the ball room. They dine, dance and socialize. My son? He’s the one who packs his own pizza, drinks down 17 sodas and proceeds to take over the dance floor. Nothing like it, stimming off caffeinated, caramel colored, artificially flavored fire water has advantages to the socially challenged, didn’t you know?

And most notably, the night before he started his high school career, yells from the basement…”Hey Mom!, Look at me!” Turning halfway I struggled to hold down my gasp reflex…..”I shaved off my eyebrows!” He further explained he saw it on the movie trailer for My Best Friends Girl.

Graduation day arrives the 9th of June. My son will walk with his class and graduate from my own alma mater. Our friends and family will make up a good slice of the audience during the procession. We will bring camera’s, recorders and our best sense of humor. And when our son goes to pick up his honors – he will no doubt hear our cheers, cat-calls and applause, and in the auditorium full of people, our boy will know that he will never be alone again.

We dream bigger…. ~ Wendy Frye

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” Pablo Picasso

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