Nathan tried hard to swallow, but it was almost like his throat was just slowly closing. He knew he had to do it, he had to! But it was hard. Mom always said 'we can do hard things', so he was going to try to borrow her words and tell himself that over and over again, with every block that passed as they made the drive from home to school in Mom's van on Sept.2, the first day of school at Misty Hills School.
Who would his teacher be? Would he have any friends there? Would he at least be able to find any friends at recess? Would the teacher be nice? Would anyone talk to him? Would they laugh at his reply? Would they like his new shirt? That reminded him, his new shirt was itchy at the back of his neck, oh man, why did he have to wear a new one? Especially today. The fears and questions just bombarded him without ceasing.
He clutched his security, his freedom, in his arms. His binders and the Kleenex box from the school supply list could all go in his backpack. But not this. This was the only hope he had of making it through this day. The only way he could possibly connect with anyone he met, beyond facial expressions and smiles and sounds. This communication device was the key to his words, the only way he had to talk, the only way he could breathe really - if freedom is breathing. And it was the only way he had to make it through another long day with heart-questions that he couldn't voice and fears he couldn't describe. All he had to do was remember where to find the words and menus he wanted, and hope that the teacher or friend would wait long enough for him to get his message out...it would speak his words, his smiles, his heart.
He took a deep breath and even smiled a little. He could do hard things.
Thinking of all the kids as they head back to school in our area next week, but especially the ones I have to come to love so much with complex communication needs and extra challenges! They are the bravest. Ever.