There is so much I want to tell you.
I want to tell you about love. I wish people were less scared to say “I love you” because more people need to hear that they are loved.
I want to tell you about traveling and how it should be pursued early and often.
I want to tell you about writing and how you should not fear your own words or thoughts, even though I will censor myself as I write this.
I want to tell you about my life, my work, my dreams.
I want to inspire you.
I want to make you laugh.
But today, I am not feeling light. Summer, my favorite season, is nearly over. Acorns are falling. Some leaves are beginning to brown on their branches. Change is in the air.
It’s the first day of second grade for my oldest son, an occasion that is both joyous and melancholy. I got up earlier than usual today, made breakfast, got him and his brother dressed in new clothes. They goofed off while I took photos of them standing by the flowering crepe myrtle in front of our house.
The younger brother—aged four and three-quarters and still in preschool — wore sunglasses for the photos, just like last year. He’s the confident one, he’s the silly one. He’s going to be the kid that holds court in the classroom, with guys and girls gathered ‘round to hear his jokes and stories.
I’m not sure what the future holds for my oldest boy, the one who has mild autism. He has been so excited for this day to come. School provides him a schedule; he craves routine. Still, as I left him this morning, he gave me a worried look. I couldn’t hear him over the din of the other children in the cafeteria, but I could see him say, “See you at 3:30.” He needed to know I would be there.
Each school year means a new teacher, who may or may not know the best way to handle my son’s idiosyncracies. There’s also the concern of whether he will make friends — will other kids invite him to birthday parties and play dates? My son is well known at his current school thanks to his lovable nature, his precocious math skills, and his ability to memorize everything from people’s birthdays to the exact length of nearly every song on my phone. Yet I know that as he ages, the chances of him being bullied for his differences will increase.
My family will be moving abroad next year, as we do every two to five years. While I am excited to introduce my sons to a new culture, the thought of starting from scratch — enrolling in a new school, finding new therapists, doctors, teachers, and caregivers — was enough to make me weep this morning. Maybe the new school will be wonderful and my son’s new peers will be kind and understanding. I am hopeful it will all work out, but the prospect of starting over fills me with angst.
Albert Einstein once said, “I never think of the future — it comes soon enough.” The physicist for whom our local high school is named is also believed to have been on the autism spectrum. I doubt my son will be the next Einstein. But I do hope that he will find his calling; that he will excel despite (or because) of his quirks; and that one day soon when I have to walk away from him, he will give me a smile — a simple acknowledgement that he is not worried and will be fine on his own.