We found the note in Betty's folder earlier this week.
"This Friday is our Spirit Day Awards Ceremony and your child Betty will be receiving an award. You are welcome to join us ...."
We were, of course, thrilled for Betty and truth be told, this comes at a good time for her self-esteem. Still, there was that little cynical voice in the back of my head - you who share this parenting of a child on the autism spectrum may have heard it sometime, too.
Oh, God. Betty gets an award, but Boo doesn't. How's that going to play out?
I saw the scene as vividly as if it was on TV: classrooms of 2nd grade kids anxiously awaiting to hear who received an award, Betty's name being called, Boo's meltdown, us needing to escort a screaming Boo from the assembly, us in the school psychologist's office ....
Such a scene hasn't happened for awhile (and truthfully, had Boo been getting the award and not Betty, the above dramatics would have probably been her over-the-top theatrical reaction). But still, we are guilty as charged, sometimes, of not giving Boo enough credit, a fact I am not proud of in the least. We're jaded from this roller-coaster ride along the spectrum, this constant feeling of being in a Fun House that comes along with the free admission to this particular theme park.
So we took our seats, The Husband and I, and waited as the second graders filed into the school cafeteria. They waved; we waved back. I checked the camera battery, tweeted a bit to selfishly avoid real-life conversations with other parents, hoped this would be a better 41st birthday for The Husband than our shell-shocked attendance at a floortime conference on one memorable birthday several years back.
The awards for Boo's class were announced, and among the recipients was Boo's arch-nemesis, a boy towering at least two heads over my Boo and looking like he could give any NFL linebacker a run for his money. Jesus, I thought. Not only does Betty get an award, now we have Michael Strahan here struttin' up to the stage.
I glanced over at Boo, applauding politely and respectively. And when Betty's name was called, I thought I heard Boo clapping a bit louder, smiling a bit brighter.
Later that night, over birthday pizza and a Birthday Dirt Cake that The Husband brought home from work, we talked about the awards.
"I was a good sport, wasn't I?" remarked Boo.
"You most certainly were," I replied, wondering how in the world this shift possibly happened and marveling at the very fact that it did. Because really, how does one teach a child with such Aspergian wiring as Boo's the nebulous concept of being a good sport, of taking one for the team? That's not an intrinsic, organic thought - at least not for my Boo.
"I bet that was a little hard to see Michael Strahan get an award when you weren't picked," I added.
"Yeah, that made me a little mad," he admitted. "But I decided to try and be a good sport anyway."
I looked at him then as we ate cake, doing my celebratory end-zone dance as a touchdown was scored in favor of our team.
photo taken by me 5/9/2009 at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, PA.
copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.