Our New “Normal”

CJI have had various and numerous “moments” over the years.  When CJ was in about the 3rd grade, the school tried to get me to sign off on him ever getting a diploma so they didn’t have to give him the FCAT.  My friend Sarah, who had been such a help, told me that I didn’t have to do that and that I could insist they give it to him.  If he didn’t take it, CJ would not be eligible for a diploma later even if he completed all the work.  I just wasn’t ready to “give up” on him at the age of 9 and told them that.  They were really nice about it, but looked at me with “that look”… you know…the one that says “she is still in denial”.

I had moments every time we missed a milestone.  Silly ones, like little league or parties.  One day when he was in elementary school, I saw something on TV about proms.  I got hysterical that he would “never be someone’s dream date for prom”.  My husband talked me down out of the tree by pointing out that CJ would NEVER want to go to prom anyway.  Apparently, prom is hell, no matter which way you’re coming at it.

When he was in middle school, it just became more and more apparent that he really needed life skills more than academics.  It was becoming questionable if he would ever “really read”.  I started focusing on reading for function and writing for function and for emergency situations.  Math for money and shopping.

Letting him go back to main stream high school was the right thing to do, but scared me to death after having a bad experience in middle school.  I just didn’t want him to get “hurt”.  Quite frankly, I didn’t want me to get hurt either…to go through it all again.

High school has been great.  The kids have been great.  We had some adjustments, but over all it’s been  really good.  The problem now…is me.  I can’t see a kid in a high school football jersey without crying.  CJ has always been a big kid and is so athletic.  He could spiral a football at 4.  He can still throw better than some of the kids who play on the teams.  I also realized that other than a few line backers, he is as big or bigger than the other players.  There is a song called “Boys of Fall.”  I sobbed every time I heard it.  In fact, if I need a good cry, I can still play it.  It is all about what it means to be on a team especially in a small town.  It broke my heart.

One day when CJ was 12, I was talking to S, a friend who also has an autistic son.  She was telling about how her son had been Baker acted twice in the last year.  I just started crying and couldn’t stop.  She was comforting “me” and telling me that it was a good thing and that if we got to that point, there wouldn’t be another choice and it would be a relief.

Until last month, I had no idea how much of a relief it might be.  Last month, we got there.  I, however, did not get that relief.  Yet another moment still waiting to happen.


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