3:15 P.M. He will be home any minute. He’ll come be-bopping off the bus and greet me with a prompted, “Hi Daddy”. He’ll take off his coat and shoes and leave them in a pile by the front door. Then he’ll strip off his pants and leave them on the kitchen floor. He’ll ask for a juice box and curl up in his favorite soft chair to decompress from a long day. I will ask him how his day was and he’ll reply with a prompted, “We had fun.” Whether it’s been a good day or a bad day, the routine is always the same. To determine the truth I have to open his backpack. In it rests an item that holds a borderline-unhealthy amount of control over my daily mood: The *gasp* Parent/Teacher Communication Notebook!
It’s an innocuous looking thing; just a blue spiral-bound notebook that was issued to him on the first day of school. In it, his teacher writes a brief (sometimes not so brief) daily note about Eric’s day, what lessons they covered and requests for additional shipments of ammunition for the next week (usually another case of juice boxes which are used as motivators during his work time).
I’m not sure why it makes me tremble. I don’t really know why I place so much weight on its contents on any given day. I just so badly want my son to succeed in school. Of course, you are saying, “Duh. Every parent wants their kid to succeed in school.” I believe our definitions of “success” differ, however. The academic stuff is important, but I am speaking of some things that neurotypical parents may take for granted: sitting at a desk for 15 minutes at a time or not screaming in protest when the teacher asks him to write his name at the top of the paper. I’m speaking of tiny things like NOT SLUGGING THE TEACHER when he doesn’t get his way.
Autism parents just want their kids to fit in… to be accepted by their peers… to have friends. When you boil it all down, that’s really it. I don’t care if my son goes to Harvard or bags groceries. I just want him to be accepted in society. And it all starts with a few sentences in a stupid notebook.
3:32 P.M. Here comes the bus. Wish me luck…
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog. Jerry is a Jersey Dad and also blogs at BaconandJuiceBoxes.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JTurning and on Facebook/pages/Bacon-and-Juice-Boxes.