Sweet and Bittersweet
It’s that time of year again. The school year is ending, the weather is getting warmer, and eager graduates are getting ready for their big day. This year is a special year, as all of the little cutie pies that Andrew started school with in 2002 are graduating from high school. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was saying goodbye to Andrew in the kindergarten playground, and shedding a tear, along with all the other parents saying goodbye to their baby for the next agonizing and glorious three hours. I am fortunate enough to say that over the last 13 years I still have some very special friendships with many of these same parents.
Because of Andrew’s special needs, he was having a very hard time socializing and emotionally handling the demands and large class size in the regular classroom. For this reason, we decided to place him in a special day class for 1st and 2nd grade. He did very well with the smaller class size and with the academics, and we wanted to place him back in general ed, so we decided to have him repeat second grade and move back into the mainstream classroom. Because of Andrew’s social immaturity and lack of understanding of social rules, this proved to be the right move and we’ve been happy with our decision throughout his school years.
Watching Andrew’s former classmates now, as seniors and getting ready to graduate in a week, just as Andrew is gearing up for his senior year, I am so proud of all of these spectacular kids that I’ve watched grow up over the last 13 years. But at the same time, I’d be lying if I said there hasn’t been this little pang inside of me, that whispers “what if”? What if Andrew didn’t repeat second grade? What if he didn’t have special needs? What would his life be like right now? We would be opening letters in the mail, anxiously awaiting to hear where he might be going to college. We’d be packing up his clothes, driving to his new school, checking out the dorms, getting his schedule, buying spirit wear for the entire family, and preparing to see him off to a new chapter.
Oh, I know Andrew is the extraordinary person he’s supposed to be, the special young man God created just for us, the person that has helped us and so many in our village to see the world a little differently, to see what’s really important, to find joy in the little things. Yes, I know all of that. I remember all of that. I have peace and am so thankful for all of that. But I have to be honest and say that I still can’t help thinking about this. This year in particular. We started this journey with these special kids, and now we are seeing them off to a brand new chapter, their very special futures – 4 year colleges, junior colleges, trade schools, jobs, and the military. I am SO proud of them! And I am proud of Andrew. And I am proud of Dan and I and the decisions we made many years ago that have helped Andrew grow into the confident, incredible young man he is now. This bittersweet feeling at first had me confused, and maybe a bit sad at times. But writing it down and thinking it through has helped me to be honest about it, and know that it’s ok to have these feelings once in a while. It’s “normal”. HA! I laugh at that term. It’s such nonsense. There is no normal. There is just us, and who we are. And we are just fine.
Congratulations to the class of 2015, as you all move on to the next exciting chapter of your lives! And next year when we are going through all the testing and college apps for Robbie, I very well may be so thankful that we are only going through it all once. Thanks for listening.
by Janeen Rubino Brumm