Another school year has come and gone. It seems looking back on my blog that the last days of school seem to be a popular time for me to write an installment, probably due to the emotional nature of what the end of the school year represents.
Sadness, for me, that my once little boy has now made it through yet another year, this being his eighth grade year. Pride at the thought of him being on the honor roll his last 2 years of middle school in some capacity, almost every semester. Happiness because of his burgeoning social skills, that I feel have been a product of his being in a cross categorical classroom as opposed to an Autistically Impaired room. Relief that I don't have to hear him gripe in the morning about not wanting to go to school for at least 3 months. Anticipation of the fun he'll have this summer at camp. It's just emotion city around here, for me, and him.
Casey will be going to high school next year. He's not happy about it, not at all. And despite our attempts at making him familiar with the school he'll attend, and making him aware of the fact that he knows so many of the kids he'll be with, he tells me almost daily that he doesn't want to go to high school. His anxiety has never been higher.
It doesn't help that he had a wonderful parapro, again, this year, who he loved. He came off the bus after his last day, teary eyed and I knew it was because he had to say goodbye to his beloved Mrs. D.. He grew attached to many of the kids in his class, who, unfortunately, are 7th graders, who won't be moving on with him (and trying to tell him or show him that they'll be there in 2013 doesn't help now in the moment). And on top of everything else, it's another transition. I can tell you, that he was probably just getting comfortable with his middle school mid year of 8th grade. I'm sure it takes him that long, and now, it's done, and everything will change for him again. Although he's pretty resilient for having Autism, I think changes in the big picture are the hardest for Casey to deal with, and a big change this will be.
In situations like this, I always recall Kirstin, his teacher from preschool, saying to me, "Casey will always rise to the occasion." That line has popped into my brain so many times. She'd be a rich woman if I had to give her a buck every time it did! But it's somehow become a mantra for me, and it has held true in so many situations, be it starting at a a new school, participating in a circus class, or taking a trip to the dentist or the barber.
And now, I have to repeat that mantra, each time my tummy ties in knots at the thought of him getting off that bus in front of a giant high school in September for the first time, or thinking of him walking the halls amongst bigger, older, typical kids. I have to say it to myself even when he gets upset about his friends not coming with him, and how he hopes Mrs. D. will be there (even though I'm pretty sure she won't be, although there always a minute chance such a thing could happen).
Yes, I'll have to repeat this mantra over and over this summer. I have to make myself realize that he'll find new people to become interested in, reunite with old ones, hopefully charm the teachers the way he always has, and be the best he can be, with my help and that of others, that I have to trust will be there for him. He'll rise to the occasion as he always does.
But for now, I'm just gonna let him enjoy his first free day from school and only think about what we'll do later and over the weekend. High school is in the distant future, and his last day of middle school is in the past. Now is now, and we're going to rise to the occasion and enjoy it!