Perhaps. But I’m not sure I feel compelled to look backwards this morning.
I’m thinking about the new year, and all the changes that are coming. Schuyler goes into 2013 as a newly minted teenager, and that’s something she is taking very seriously. Schuyler works hard to overcome her own demons, some of which are related to her disability and others perhaps coming from a different monster altogether. Becoming a teenager has convinced her that she needs to grow up a little, even though honestly, it’s something that I don’t think she really wants to do.
Like a lot of special needs kids, Schuyler is hard to pin down on any scale of age appropriateness. It’s impossible to say that she’s got the intelligence level of the maturity level of a certain age group. She is all over the map, as she always has been. In some ways, she presents as much younger than she is. In others, mostly emotionally, she is wise beyond her years. What you’re left with is Schuyler, as she is, an innocent (perhaps even naive) little girl and sober young woman. Another year will bring some big changes, but some aspects of who she is will stay as they are. And the trick of reconciling those different levels of growth will still be Schuyler’s to pull off.
Julie and I will continue to try our best, stumbling at times, striding confidently at others. We will continue to do what needs to be done at home while facing a world that doesn’t understand. “Oh, that’s just like what every teenaged girl goes through,” I’ll continue to be told by well-meaning commenters on Facebook. “Oh, I get that. My daughter went through the same thing, except of course she can talk and isn’t developmentally delayed and doesn’t have the threat of seizures hanging over her head. But still…” We will continue to smile as the world sees a little girl who presents so normally and who almost passes, almost, while we worry about a future that frankly, neurotypical parents just don’t understand. We don’t understand it, either, but we know it’s going to be hard, for Schuyler most of all.
There are a lot of changes waiting for her this year. One year hence, when we’re looking back on 2013, it may very well represent something very much like a whole new life for us all. But there will be certain things that won’t change. Schuyler will be Schuyler, the same weird and wonderful little monster-slayer that she’s always been. She’ll remain in the care of a loving mother and father, in a family that probably doesn’t look like yours but is nevertheless exactly right for us. She’ll have triumphs to look back on, and setbacks, and hopefully there’ll be more of the former than the latter. She’ll be ten feet tall by then and will have even more smelly boys lurking around, unaware of the mortal danger they’ll be in. (I may be old, but I’m driven by overprotective dad power with a boost of curmudgeon for good measure. You’ve been warned, punks.)
But most of all, she’ll still have her monster. She’ll still wrangle with it, negotiate with it, figure it out. She’ll get knocked down by her monster from time to time, but Chumbawamba-like, she’ll get back up again.
And she’ll still have me. She’ll always have me, until I run out of years myself. Like all of our kids, Schuyler will walk into an uncertain future but she won’t be alone. Never alone.
Happy new year, everyone. Bring it on.