The last school birthday party…

At 5 a.m. Dada found J sitting on his bed while looking out the window.  He was wide awake.  He was monitoring the snow situation.  We had a lot of snow last week, and J was home from Wednesday in the afternoon to 8:30 on Wednesday when school finally started after a two-hour delay.

We got a lot of snow.  Not as much as other places, but enough to impair movement around town, work and school schedules, and causing a lot of family togetherness.  TGG was stuck in a hotel across the street from work.  We would’ve missed him more if we hadn’t lost the habit of having him at home.  The first night, as it started to snow profusely, J asked, but by the morning he was totally cool with his brother’s absence.

The storm, of course, threw a bit of a monkey wrench in our plans for organizing all party-related matters over the weekend.  We did manage to go to the psych on Thursday, and J doesn’t have to return until September.  We did all the important administrative stuff, but the party planning didn’t really take off until the snow cleared, and we could make it to the store.

I spent all of yesterday cooking, and in the evening we picked up cakes, and finished packing everything.  J realized last evening that the cakes were for his class, and immediately was excited by this prospect.  When he heard the word IEP mentioned, he looked at me in surprise, and I had to explain that we would be tele-conferencing it and I wouldn’t be going to the school for the party.  The relief he felt knowing that I wasn’t going to be there to act like a mom was obvious.

He went to bed happy, and he was -as I mentioned at the beginning- obviously paying attention to the weather.  He didn’t fret when he left for school without cakes because he didn’t really notice.  I had packed the food in a basket with a nice cover.  When TGG showed up with the cakes, J’s teacher said “look!  These are for you!  What do you think about that????”  J, looked from teacher to brother to cakes and back to brother, and said a resounding BYE!  I explained to TGG, when he texted me about it, that this is obviously a sign that he’s now less cool than he was, but not quite as uncool as WE are.

On Sunday J will be 21…officially.  We still have to take him to get a new ID (one that indicates his elevated status as a person who can buy alcohol and cigarettes,) and we have to prepare for this final transition into “I’m no longer a student.”  His teacher says he has “senioritis,” and has been by turns totally cavalier about his responsibilities, playing around with his schedule, and totally devoted to whatever task is at hand.  I can related to that…I remember thirty-something years ago when I, too, felt the pull of “this is my last year in high school…woo hoo!” and then “oh, NO!  This is my last year in high school!!!” alternately.

The celebration at home, of course, will be different.  He will have presents, and a nice dinner, and dessert.  It will, however, lack the social aspect that has made today’s party at school so special.  J’s social life, sadly, is slowly inching towards dwindling until we find programs and activities he can attend regularly.  As you know, those don’t exactly grow on trees.

The teacher sent pictures of the kids singing Happy Birthday to J…with J leading them in song.  He was even singing Happy Birthday to himself while everyone else was eating cake.  That, my friends, is definitely my boy!

****

It is now nearly 10 P.M., and J has been happy as a lark in spring since he got home.  He has not been particularly hungry, but that is -in my humble opinion- quite understandable.  He did, after all, have cake and tacos and rice and beans, and soda.

When Dada came home, J decided that he wanted to go out, and this was a pretty good idea.  The air was cold, but we needed an outing since spending all weekend indoors.  It was nice walking around and not feeling like we needed to buy ice melt, or water because of upcoming weather.  J walked around ahead of us.  He didn’t even really turn to make sure we were there; he knows we are, and he’s confident that he can move without getting into trouble.  At one point, even though we had no eye contact, he was comfortable with this, and I felt equal parts concerned and relieved.

We went to the grocery store and walked around for a while, and had the good fortune to not find a crowd.  The last time we’d been (pre-storm,) the place had been wall-to-wall with people.  J noticed our bagger; she was a lovely girl with dreadlocks, and she was very enthusiastic and had a nice smile.  J, of course, looked at her as surreptitiously as a person with very little filter can manage.  I could tell he was looking at the ceiling so he could look out of the corner of his eye.  It was, to me, endearing, and the girl may have noticed, but she also noticed that J is not your typical creepy dude who is out trawling for chicks a the grocery store.

As we were leaving the store, J leaned into me.  He was smiling.  The look on his face said “this has been a really good day,” and I giggled a little before jabbing me with his elbow and softly emitting a Tigger roar…  It was about the girl, I knew.  It was because he is a guy who knows that there are things he is interested in, but that they’re not really in the realm of his possibilities.  It was because we understand, and because he knows we understand.

The last little boy in our little world is officially not a little boy anymore.  He needs us.  He counts on us.  He will always (as all youngest children are to their parents) be our baby, but there’s something different there, and J knows it…   And he’s cool with it.  And we’re cool with it…

 

 

 

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