On The Road To Normalcy

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Normal. 

I hate the word, really.  I never gave it much thought until I had a son who was decidedly “abnormal.”  What is normal, anyway? Isn’t it our differences that make the world so much fun?  Who wants to be “normal?” 

I don’t know what else to call it.  Invisible, maybe.  Most people want to be invisible.  They just want to blend in, and not stick out in any way.  OK, maybe not everybody, but possibly most middle-schoolers. 

Jake is on his way. 

He’s trying.

He just had an IEP (individualized education plan) team meeting today.  The new plan is for Jake to walk into the school on his own from here on out.  He’s been walked to his class and handed off to a responsible adult his entire life.  This will be a brave new frontier for my pre-teen.  He’s been riding the bus by himself (albeit with Liv nearby) for some time now with no adverse effects. 

He’s interacting with his peers at lunch, thanks to a new punch system designed by one of his Special Ed teachers, Mrs. Ford (more on her in a moment).  He’s using kids’ names to ask them to sit with him at lunch.  Just like any “normal” kid would.

Jake’s even developed his first age-inappropriate crush this year in Mrs. Ford.  At least I assume that’s what it is.  He’s become quite protective of her.  She was having to quiet some kids in the lunch room the other day, and was using her sad/disappointed face in letting them know what was expected, and apparently Jake went off on the students.  He got very upset that they had made Mrs. Ford sad.  He recognized either her expression, her tone, or a little of both and had taken it quite to heart.  He was sobbing and in tears for much of the afternoon.  He’s still holding a grudge. 

Jake’s starting to balk at his bedtime.  Granted, 8:00 is early for a kid in 7th grade, but following his routine has always been more important than trying to be “cool” and stay up late.  Besides, he needs his sleep.  Lately he’s begun telling us that big boys stay up late.  We’ve invited him to do just that, but he prefers to do his “staying up late” from the safety of his bed, playing his train simulator games on my iPad. 

He still calls me Ryan.  I go back and forth on whether it’s to piss me off, or because it’s my name.  He always calls Beth mother, so I think it’s a power struggle thing.  Either that or he sees himself as a man, and wants to address me as such.  Just two days ago we were driving into a town, and as we passed the reduced speed limit sign, he said, “Don’t forget to slow down, Ryan.”  I told him my name was Dad.  “No it’s not.  You’re Ryan, remember?”  How could I forget?

So, it’s the little things.  The things that creep up on you and sometimes you don’t even realize that things are changing until they’ve done just that. 

We’re only 8 months away from the TEEN years. 

I can’t wait to see what comes next.

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