This is the face of someone who “enjoyed” Honors Breakfast. And by enjoyed I mean… it went terribly.
When I opened Lucy’s backpack on Monday afternoon and read the letter my jaw dropped to the floor.
“Are you sure?” I asked her teacher. “Like, it’s not every kid? She was actually chosen to be January Student of the Month?”
Sure enough, she was. For showing kindness, leadership, and great worth ethic, my daughter, was chosen. And of course, then I felt like a terrible mom for thinking it may be a mistake- maybe an oversight.
She may never make friends. She may never be reading or writing at grade-level. She may never win these stupid awards for normal kids because she’s.not.normal. I had to tell myself these things. I had to prepare myself.
My eyes welled with tears and I screamed. “Lucy! Do you know what this means?”
“Yeah! I had a good day!” She was beaming- so proud of herself.
We talked about it for two whole days. We held hands and jumped up and down on our kitchen floor. We danced around the counter island and had celebratory peanut butter cookies.
What do you think you’ll eat for breakfast? Chocolate cake.
How many other kids do you think there will be? 100.
Do you think you’ll get a certificate? I hope I get chocolate cake.
Seriously. She was so proud of herself. She wanted to tell everyone. She knew how hard she’s been working and knew this breakfast would be all about honoring her.
And then morning came and in those first few moments, Devin and I knew that it wouldn’t be a good morning. She fought everything- getting dressed, brushing her teeth, wearing socks. I finally had to carry her out into the garage, begging her to remember how excited she was for this.
I barely got her through the school doors. She sat down at her spot (with a princess place mat ugh, she hates princesses) while I got her breakfast and tried coaxing her into eating something.
“There’s no chocolate cake.”
The other parents were kind when I saw them eyeing her frustration, “Hard day for her,” I whisper. “Different kinds of days are hard.” And I stare at the other kids instead of my own. Smiling and laughing… actually eating breakfast. And then I wonder if the other parents know. Or do they just think she’s a bratty kid who hates mornings? I wonder what they’re thinking when we exchange tiny smiles.
While the principal was trying to give an inspiring message to the students, Lucy was talking. To herself… to me… I’m not really sure. She kept talking about peanut butter. And chocolate cake, of course. “I want to leave. I’m gonna leave now.” Shhh, Lucy. Listen, please. She stood up, sat back down, stood up, etc.
It feels like a slap in the face, a slap of reality. Because there are some moments I simply forget. We go on living our “normal” lives just as you all do because this IS normal for us. This is our everyday. But then this happens and it’s like getting slapped with an Autism stick and it’s a sudden reminder that she’s not normal.
Let the record show that I don’t give a shit about being normal or labeling anyone as “normal.” But that doesn’t take away the fact that here I am, standing next to these proud parents who are watching their kids behave appropriately, while I’m over here convincing my kid to stay seated at the table. It doesn’t take away the fact that she still struggles. It doesn’t take away the fact that she was SO DAMN excited about this breakfast, but her anxiety got the best of her and she couldn’t overcome how out of routine this was.
She did stand up to accept her certificate. She did stand underneath the banner for the photo, of course, with a gnarly pirate face. Those things I’m proud of. She didn’t freak out when the principal tried to pat her on the back. She was happy to go into class.
She was happy to go into class.
And. She was chosen.
Her everyday is so much better than we expected. So much better than anyone expected. So much better than anyone had prepared us for.
She’s killin’ it, folks. She’s learning and loving.
And she’s teaching other people. Oh, she has so much to teach us.