Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Goodbye Hello Window

So I find myself back in front of the same window. I've had a complicated relationship with this window for two years. Sometimes I stood in front of it and cried. Sometimes I've snuck peeks through it when no one was looking. Sometimes I've gone to crafty lengths to avoid it. Through it I watched my son on the preschool play yard. I have watched him walk the perimeter of that space in self imposed isolation, I have watched him throw his body into the sand in wired/tired moody fits. I have watched him hit, fight with other kids who had no idea what to make of him. I have seen him teased, mocked. I have watched him shake his cute thing to High School Musical, with a teacher, or with his best gal pal, or with his "shadow," or all by himself. I have watched him laugh, hug, play, and be loved.

And for two years, I often left that window and had to remind myself to look in another -- his sister's.

I love my children with equal ferocity. I care equally about their schooling. Fair isn't giving each child the same things though, it's giving each child what he or she needs. Peaches has not needed me staring longingly through her window.

Now I still pass his window frequently on my way around campus, and, for the third year running, I do stop and look sometimes, only he's not at this school anymore; he was not invited back. Instead, I look through, and I see my daughter. So far I always see her playing happily with all her friends. Watching her this week, seeing her on that too familiar yard effortlessly playing where he brother had experienced so many highs and lows, I suddenly had to duck into a closet for cover when I found myself more shaken than I had ever been in front of that window.

You can't compare. You can't measure. I wasn't THINKING anything when I melted down. It just happened, that same illogical emotional kind of surprise I get when I watch a remarkable piece of theatre or the Olympics or something. I saw my daughter holding hands with friends laughing and carrying on and my heart had a little earthquake.

Watching Peaches through the window, I thought of the callous, tactless woman who told me, "It's only going to hit you more and more what his challenges are as you watch Peaches develop normally." She is the same woman who told me she was surprised I had another kid after the Rooster. But though she lacks communication skills, I won't deny that seeing Peaches' effortless socialization made me acutely aware of how hard it is for him even now, two years older than she is, to navigate a playground with any degree of social success.

"My" school was not the right school for my son, and I wanted to find him a new school as much or more than the school wanted to see him go. But there is no denying it feels better to leave on your own terms.

I can still see Rooster through my school's windows. He is at the school across the street now, and through certain windows I can see him when he's outside playing on the playground, now there for summer "camp." Mostly I feel my load greatly lightened by the increased distance, the ability to take off one of my hats, the separation of church and state, so to speak. But the other day I did intentionally sneak a peak when I knew he'd be playing outside, to see how he was doing. I saw him with a little girl who looked to be about seven. While I watched, they hugged. Later when I picked him up, that little girl showed me the gap in her teeth, and then said, "We're going to take good care of the Rooster while he's at camp."

One of my favorite John Irving novels uses the phrase, "Keep passing open windows." In the book, it's a way of saying, "Don't jump!" It's a survival phrase. For me, it's also good advice.


Anonymous said...

this -

Fair isn't giving each child the same things though, it's giving each child what he or she needs.

- could not come at a better time. thank you for a gift you couldn't possibly have known i needed. (yeah, i just made that about me)

but you, peaches, rooster??

it sounds like every single one of you are EXACTLY where you need to be.

jen said...

oh sweet lady..I can sooo relate to your words my social butterfly of a five year old flitted off to yet another birthday party leaving her big brother behind....

I think I'm going to post that quote on my fridge "Fair isn't giving each child the same things, it's giving each child what he or she needs."....

thank you again for your honesty & your words of wisdom!

pixiemama said...

there ought to be a book named ...