Thursday, March 20, 2008

Like Sally Field

There are days at school that my eyes begin to drip, drip, drip while I'm smiling, and I find myself on the verge of saying, "You like him, you really, really like him." Today was one of those Sally Field days.
You see, there are some people in our school community who just DO like my son, and not because he is my son, but for himself. Forgive me, I know it's a shameful thing to say, but their affection for this boy often catches me by surprise. It is with painful candor that I own this: I am the one who likes my son BECAUSE he is my son, and sometimes that is all I can muster.
But clearly these people have much to teach me, and I come as a ready and eager pupil.
A close friend, who I am lucky to also have as a close colleague, sat down on my office floor yesterday -- A BAD DAY -- to check in on with the rooster as he sat in exile. She let him climb all over her, take the clip from her hair, and give her a whole new hairdo, with his hands still sticky from lunch. In my temporarily disconnected place yesterday, I couldn't muster much by way of thanks to her for that half hour generously and tolerantly taken from her day. Today, this treasured auntie told me she enjoyed it, that she likes to see my boy, and I could feel her genuine fondness for my wild child. She cares about my whole family, and I care about hers, too, and so I know that our shared history does make a difference. But what I could hear her say today was that she likes the rooster. She likes him? Yes. I know how Sally felt, that mix of surprise and delight.
And then there is the library teacher, who came to our school only recently, who never knew me before I had kids. She has had to say goodbye to my book-loving boy mid lesson because he just could not handle library class, and he needed to be escorted by a classroom teacher back to the room to settle down. She did not look surprised to hear that he had been sent home early. Still, she stopped me in the hall today to ask how things are going, concern evident in her eyes, her body language. "You know," she told me, "when some kids act out, I have to remind myself to keep cool. But when others, sweet kids like yours, act up, I just feel so strongly that they can't help it, that they are so sweet inside..." She was talking about my rooster? Yes, she likes him.
And it isn't just the grownups.
The second grader who lives down the street can approach our car at zero hour -- 4:30 in the afternoon, when I'm wrestling the two shrieking greased gorillas into their car seats after school -- and she can flood the back seat with love and goodness, and by the time we say goodbye, the gorillas have evolved, settled in, and resemble children again. Yesterday, she ran to the rooster on the play yard, where he was refusing to share with kids his own age, and trying to grab a child's cheese. She grabbed him and hugged him. He melted, but I know her, and even if he'd continued to sulk and seethe, as he might have, she would hug him again the next day. For some reason, she likes him. She really likes him.
I won't go so far as to say he's going to win any popularity prizes or anything like that. He has plenty of people who shrink away when they see him coming. I live in fear that some members of his small fan club might switch to that approach if he keeps having more bad days than good ones. But, for now, I'm enjoying knowing that some people like the rooster. They really, really like him.

1 comment:

jen:) said...

Greetings! I am a friend of Jacki Vaugn's...she recently gave me the link to your blog & I can't keep myself from reading reading reading....this one made me the tears roll down my we've struggled with my lil' guy...about to be 6 this month & waded our way through the muck of special needs....(in reality we all have them don't we? special needs? - I know I do!)

...when my lil' guy started kindergarten this fall, this is what I told his teachers:
He will challenge your every boundary, and push your every button, he will make you laugh, some days he will make sense & others he will make you scratch and shake your head...but my only request is that you like him... that even when it's difficult you really like him... he'll know in an instant if you don't, he's intuitive that way - and if you are coming to a point where you are finding yourself not liking him anymore...TALK TO ME, please.....

We are just beginning the evaluation process...somehow it seemed like we came against roadblocks & obstacles every second just trying to figure out where to go next..and what to do....of course, I anticipate the process is only just beginning...

Thank you for your honesty, your authenticity and your words...for this mom they were an encouragement that I am not out here on my own....

that maybe, just maybe - someone else gets it..