November 29, 2010. This is a day that I will never forget. The day he took the bus to school. Jon has had the opportunity to take the bus to school for the past four years. Of course, I wasn't going for it. In addition to having a diagnosis of autism, Jon is also nonverbal. The thought of someone doing something to him on that bus and him not being able to tell me was too difficult for me to even think about. The idea that he would be transported by someone other than family was so not happening. I guess when you have a child, not just a child with special needs, you live to protect them. I have always wanted to protect Jon. It seems like in life when I ease up something happens.
I can honestly say that there has been some maturing with Jon over the last few months. Something different started to happen with my son when he started kindergarten. He seems to be more of a big boy. His personality is changing. He likes to try things. To be perfectly honest at times I think that he resents my over protectiveness. Over the last month or so, Jon has been taking the bus with his classmates to various events offered to his school sponsored by the Special Olympics. His teacher has made a point to let me know just how much he likes it. In my mind I thought...whatever, it ain't happening. For the past four years I have shut down the idea of bus transportation in his annual IEP with the quickness. But lately when I've picked Jon up from school he smiles at the school bus. Something on the inside of me could feel that he must have liked it.
So against my better judgment, I emailed the principal to see if he could take the bus. I planned on asking in person but somehow it would never come out of my mouth. Go figure. So yesterday was the big day. I was sooo nervous. I had my camera in hand, tears in my eyes and a list of how the bus driver is to take care of my son. (Yeah I know, that is a lot of nerve trying to tell someone how to do their job but everyone know how I am).
As we waited on the porch for the bus. I was sooo nervous and Jon had no clue why we were standing out in the elements. However, everything changed when Jon saw the school bus. When Jon saw that bus, he was so very excited. As we were waiting on the porch we first heard the bus coming down the street. It seemed to be going faster than it should but I know that must have all been in my mind. Then it turned in our cul de sac before stopping directly in front of our house. Jon had the deer in headlights look. I'm sure he was thinking, wishing that the big bus was for him but was probably thinking that with a mother like his, this couldn't possibly be his bus.
So as the bus approached the house, I gave him permission to walk to the bus on his own.
And he walked on the bus like a big boy. I could not contain my excitement. I was impressed to say the least. As Jon walked on the bus, I followed him and began to give the bus driver this long winded speech as to what to do in the event of an emergency. Now mind you, Jon is only going a whopping three blocks to school.
Once on the bus, I see Jon independently get himself in his seat and attempt to put on his seat belt. In that moment I shut my trap. Yeah, I took a second to shut it and absorb just how far my son had come. I thought about the little boy that had such hyperactivity that he was not capable of sitting for ten seconds independently when he was three years old. And tears began to roll down my face.
For a second he did seem unsure, but he was ready to try. And this was something that he really wanted to do. I could see the look on his face of now what because there was no turning back?
But he didn't change his mind. The look only lasted for a second. And my boy was ready to take his chances. He motioned to give me a kiss, then waved goodbye to me without prompting. In that moment I knew that he had it under control. No need to hand my list to the bus driver. No need for the remainder of my lecture on how to take care of my boy. Jon smiled at me and then sat back in his seat. He was ready to go. And in that moment I understood that there are times that I need to take a breath and let go. I need to give Jon the chance to succeed or fail. And I learned that letting go can be a liberating feeling. I was so proud of Jon. But most importantly I could see that Jon was proud of himself.