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The Return of the Short Bus

Schuyler and I waited outside this morning, quietly discussing what her day would likely involve, this first day of seventh grade. We waited, as we have every year since she started attending school here seven years ago. Waited for the short bus, the butt of so many jokes and the enduring symbol of her freedom.

I have mixed feelings about Schuyler’s return to school. On one hand, spending the summer with me can’t be a picnic for her. She typically spent two hours a day communting just so she could watch me work (my gratitude for Netflix on the iPad has no bounds), after all. She didn’t have a great many friends to hang out with, and no big exclusive family vacation to look forward to. She swam, she hung out, and she used her extreme emotional manipulative powers to force her poor father to eat ice cream with her until he began to resemble Robba the Hutt. By the time school rolls around, she’s probably ready for a change.

But at the same time, I’m not sure she wants that change to come in the form of returning to the classroom. In the past year or two, as her experience has become more… challenging, Schuyler’s enthusiasm for school has waned a great deal. Well, I suppose ours has, too. And perhaps the most frustrating aspect of that comes from the fact that the teachers with whom Schuyler is working now are among the best she’s ever had, and in a school district that is among the very best in Texas. If something isn’t quite working here, why is that? And how reasonable are our hopes of finding better than this, the most promising educational opportunity she’s had and is likely to ever have?

But as we worry about the future, Schuyler’s anxiety exists entirely in the now. Last night, she burst into tears, seemingly out of nowhere, saying through her tears that she didn’t want to go back to school. And then she said it, the thing she’s said before but which never ever fails to break my poor sad father heart right in two.

“I want to talk like everyone else.”

She knows that’s not going to happen. I think she just needs to express it now and again, just to sound her frustrated howl at an uncaring moon from time to time. But God. I have never known how to process the complicated feelings that this statement invokes in me. I feel pretty sure I never will.

So this morning, her short little bus with the same beloved driver she’s had for a few years pulled up outside, and she ran up the steps and inside without so much as a glance back. I used to say that Schuyler was fearless, but it’s not that simple. She has fears, some of them daunting and all of them based in her reality, which isn’t an easy one. But Schuyler faces her fears like no one I know, and when I have my own anxieties, she’s the one I watch to see the way out.

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Be sure to check out site c0-founder Julia Roberts’ posts about her daughter and Champerina and about traveling Champ on Build-A-Bear Workshop‘s blog! They are a huge supporter of this special needs community!

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