Susan's Blog

Friday, November 21, 2008

Special Deliverance

His mother cried and held him tight
His father asked, “Are you alright?”
— Maurice Sendak, Pierre

I stand at the door, peering at the empty road, frowning at each car that is not it. My hands stuck to my hips, I’m a slimmer, darker version of Grandma, stocky and pink, teased and glued yellow hair high above her head. Grandma used to watch for us to arrive; you could practically see the waves of impatience shimmering above her head.

I am watching for Nat’s white van, having just talked to T on the phone about the week at school. This is a ritual I enjoy, even though I hate it when my phone rings, a vestige, perhaps, of sensory issues of my own. But when T calls, I just have to listen for the most part, and then compare my home experience with Nat to hers during school. Home, school, and House have regular contact to keep Nat pinned to a safe and happy reality in our minds.

“Overall his week was good,” she began. ‘Overall’ snapped me to attention; and I’m paraphrasing here, of course. “He did have one outburst, but Sue, it was the weirdest thing! He did not utter a sound. It was a bite to his arm, a pinch, and then he cleared his worktable. Then, he was fine for the rest of the day. And of course I have no idea what the trigger was.” She might have said “antecedent;” this is a modified ABA classroom, after all. Most people don’t usually put the words “ABA” with “humane and loving,” but I will say it every time about Nat’s experience there. Those teachers adore him and no one gets more pleasure out of his ways than T — other than me. We agreed that the lack of such outbursts in months and months, must likely mean that he is finding more ways to communicate his needs and observations and accommodate us, and we are learning better how to communicate our needs to him, and understand him and accommodate him.

“Today,” she went on, “was amazing. During Morning Meeting, one of the boys went up to the board to place a velcro picture of a teacher who was here, and I guess the velcro — something was wrong with it, but none of us noticed. But Nat did. But instead of leaping up, and being upset, the way he might have last year, he said, “Nat fix it, Nat fix it.”
And so I said, “Nat, what should we fix?”
“The card.”
I looked and saw what he meant. I was SO proud of him, and how much language he has acquired, and ability to use it.”
I knew what she meant. Such growth.
“Oh, and that video you sent me — Oh My God –” she said, referring to Amanda’s video, which I have looked at again after some time. (I know, I know, this is the third time in two days I’ve linked to it, but the insight is just breathtaking, and T thought so, too). “I have never thought of things that way. But I have had thirty-something students and now — ” I knew just what she was saying, and I feel like this is what Jews mean by Tikkun Olam, healing the world, one person at a time.

I am ready and eager for a Pierre-like hug and kiss, with my Natty, my heart just slopping over the edges with delight and motherly pride for my pride.

The bus swings up, the driver cheerfully greets me with her cigarette-roughened voice. And there he is, taking the front walk in leaps; his usual pace. Nat is home, my Friday Special Delivery.

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