He did it. He has just finished his first week of primary school. He has bruised knees and scuffed shoes and a book bag he refuses to carry. He has had bed hair every morning and dawdles home on his tired legs every afternoon. His socks are too long and his sweater too big and when he walks through the doors every morning he looks too small, but there he is getting caught up in the slipstream of the other kids all making their way to the classroom and he looks happy to be there. Excited. The smallest of backward glances and he’s gone.
The question “what did you do at school today?” still goes unanswered. A question too big to contemplate. So instead we draw the day. We sit at the big table and I draw a map of the day for him as he directs me. I have learnt that he had chicken and carrots and jelly for lunch on Monday and that he sat on a long table in the hall. On Tuesday we drew “music” and “dancing” and “my friends” and I learned that on Wednesday he played on the big slide but not on the trampolines because they were wet. Together we sit and process the day. He remembers the things he has done and I get the tiniest glimpse of what he’s been up to.
Every morning we walk to school with his little brother and we are the odd ones out. Aren’t we always? We swim against the tide of other parents and kids heading the opposite way to the mainstream school which is on the same grounds as our specialist one and has a different entrance. It stings. Just a little bit. Enough to be noticeable. The kids excitedly chatting and riding their scooters and pulling along their annoyingly slow walking little siblings. It doesn’t hurt but I feel it. I wonder whether that will ever go away.
This morning when I gave him his breakfast he said “school today?” and what two words could you long to hear more after the fear and worry about this week? A week of wondering if he is ok. If he is able to make his needs known. If he is scared or worried or hungry or sad. It turns out he has been none of those things. He’s been going down slides and having jelly for pudding and having a wonderful time. So now I can breathe. The fight is over. We did it. We got him in and we can feel safe that we made the right decision. He is in the perfect place with wonderful people who will never know how much they have done already, although I will be sure to tell them.
He’s braver than me. Stronger than me. I have had tears in my eyes every day this week. Me and the small one walk passed the playground on the way home after we’ve dropped him off and we stop for a minute to see if we can spot him. There he is. On the swings that I drew last night and that he loves so much and he is laughing and holding on tight and I want to run to him and push him higher and watch him laugh his head off and close his eyes and pretend he is flying. Because he is flying. Higher than we could ever have imagined.