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Transitions

photoSpecial needs parents and their support professionals frequently talk about transitions. They are wildly important. It’s maybe the hardest part for a lot of our kids, and it’s the one that we know they can’t escape. The thing is, it’s the thing we can’t escape, either. Change is coming, as it always is. Sometimes stealthily as if on cat’s paws, but lately, more like a howling wind that drives everything before it.

This is a week of transitions for us. Later this week, we will be attending an open house at the high school that Schuyler will be attending next year. High school. Next year. I feel like we just recently came to terms with middle school as a concept based in reality. I don’t know how I expected to feel when my little girl reached high school. I guess at the very least, I’d hoped she would be prepared.

Is she? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

We helped Schuyler clean her room today, which sounds like no big deal. It wasn’t, really, in the sense that it was a mess, but just a fourteen year-old girl’s mess, not something from an episode of Hoarders. The thing that mattered was what we found. We hadn’t cleared out her old stuff in a while, long enough that it was mostly toys that we were trying to decide what to do with. Toys for a much younger girl, and not just her stuffed animals, which I suspect she’ll have forever. While with Schuyler it’s hard to nail down exactly what her maturity level might be, she nevertheless began to realize that she’s on the cusp of a transition. She kept bringing out old toys, but it was out of nostalgia, not clinginess. She didn’t want to keep them, she just wanted to acknowledge that there was a time when they meant a great deal to her.

She’s letting go, slowly, tenuously, of the trappings of a childhood that she’s leaving behind so soon.

I’m not sure we as her parents are entirely ready to do so, either. We’re all taking those small steps, but not too small. Time is like an airport’s moving sidewalk, even for Schuyler.

In one of her science homework assignments last week, the students were asked to imagine their world in the year 2030. It’s easy enough to calculate her future age on the fly; she was born in the last days of 1999, after all. In 2030, Schuyler will be thirty. It feels like a long way off, but it’s actually just sixteen years.

Imagining Schuyler at thirty means imagining what her life might look like. Her life, and our lives, too. Thirty is a million transitions away, and a million mistakes on our part and a million adventures and bad stumbles and leaps of faith on hers.

I can hardly imagine most of them, but then, I didn’t see a lot of the past transitions coming, either. As she did then, I suspect she’ll survive, as will we all. She’ll survive, and she’ll thrive, because that’s what she does.

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