It seems inconceivable that Schuyler returns to school just one week from today. I know this is a rite of passage for every family, and I’ll probably have more more to say about it next week. This year it’s more complicated than ever, and we all seem hyper aware of that fact. Oddly for her, Schuyler has said that she doesn’t want to go back to school, which says a lot about how she felt about last year, her first in middle school. And of course, if everything goes as planned (or “planned”, perhaps more accurately), she’ll be moving to a school in the Chicago area sometime in October. So yeah. School’s a little more daunting than usual this time around. Perhaps more than just a little.
But for now, we have a week.
I hope children no longer write about what they did over their summer vacation for school. I always hated that assignment when I was a young kid in West Texas, mostly because I had a difficult time figuring out how to spin an essay-length piece out of “I basically farted around for three months. I caught horny toads and drank some Slurpees. The end.”
I’m not sure Schuyler would be able to do much better. She went to work with her father. She saw some movies. She tried to dye her hair blue but it mostly just darkened up for a few days and then went back to normal. She played Miracle League baseball. She swam and tried to make friends at the pool, with the same predictable results. She went to a Texas Rangers game and ate ice cream out of a little hat. She worried about school. She worried about her father. She watched the future grow a little closer.
It’s been a weird summer, and the past week in particular hasn’t been an easy one for me. I find, as I always have when I’m down (which is far more frequent than I let on to anyone, least of all online), that Schuyler is remarkably perceptive. It is in these moments that she becomes the one who gives to me. She’s a deeply empathetic soul. I sometimes wonder if her disability has anything to do with that. In particular, I often believe that perhaps the hard work that goes into communicating with the rest of the world has given her an acute ability to read the moods and subtle signals of the people around her. Her monster breaks her in some ways, but perhaps it gives back just a little, too.
I find that Schuyler seems particularly sensitive towards me. This has always been true, even when she was very young. Of late, she has observed that I’m sad, even when I work very hard to keep it from her. She’s tenacious, and it is in those moments during the summer most of all, when we spend hours and days together, that she becomes the person I need most of all. We’re like the song, my beloved monster and me, and during the summer we truly do go everywhere together.
Tonight, as she was going to bed, she declared that I needed a hug, and she was going to be the one to give it to me. As I held her close, I told her, “You know, when I’m sad, you make me happy.”
She smiled. “I always make you happy, Daddy-o! I am going to kiss your head now.”
And she did, before springing off to bed.
I get her for one more week before she goes back to school.
One day I’ll have to let her go for good.