My Son has a Reputation

Two days ago, Jack got one of those embarrassing bruises on his chin. You know, one of those that makes you scared to take him to the grocery store for fear of being reported to Child Protective Services. It happened at school during recess. He is totally fine, but it looks like someone colored purple marker all over his chin.

Then this morning, I was walking him to his class. He goes to “regular” class with a personal teacher for the first half-hour, and then to his special autism classroom. In the hallway, an irregular flood of students greeted him.

Like three cute little girls walking together, calling to him in unison, “Hi Jack!”

I prompted him, “Say hi.”

“Say hi,” he waved in their general direction.

One little guy who talked with a lisp came in step with us to examine his bruise. He repeated the legend of how it happened: Jack had run from the teacher at the end of recess and knocked his chin on the balance beam. I knew the story already.

“Did you see it happen?”

“No, I wush in my clashroom,” he said. I imagined the story spreading through the school and becoming a legend: how Jack, the little blond boy that can’t talk, suffered a sudden, traumatic injury on the battlefield. Did he break his jaw? Did he go to the hospital? Will he ever recover?

“He’s just fine,” I assured the boy.

This school does a tremendous job of preparing students to relate with children with special needs. They are really trying, these kids. It makes me hopeful that as they get older, they might advocate for my son in the face of taunts and bullies. For now, they really do get it.

Jack let out one of his quick little laughs, related to nothing that I could tell.

The boy didn’t even look up. “He ish alwaysh sho happy.”

We turned the corner and I smiled out loud. My son has a reputation. Sure he doesn’t talk, and he flaps his papers in front of his eyes, but he is known for “alwaysh” being happy.

It’s going to be a good day.


Photo by Anne Nunn Photography.

12 replies
  1. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    The school my twins go to has a lot of kids with autism. We just moved here 3 years ago so this was new to my kids who were 6 at the time. The school did a phenomonal job of educating the kids about autism. My daughter even taught me to always say “kids with autism” as opposed to “autistic kids” because “they are KIDS BEFORE their autism.”
    How right she is. I have seen such compassion in my kids and I KNOW they look out for their friends. One of my daughter, Sophie’s, best buds is a boy named Travis that does not speak. Even though he doesn’t speak, Sophie can still tell you all about Travis, his likes/dislikes, his temperment and his personality. She would defend him till the end. Sounds like Jack “speaks” to his friends in a different language-just like Travis. And Jack sounds like he is well loved-just like our friend Travis. I am betting Jack will have a school full of warriors behind him!

  2. Ann Kilter
    Ann Kilter says:

    A circle of friends is so great. My son’s first real friend met him in the fifth grade. I think part of his compassion for Will came from having a younger brother and sister with hearing deficits. Later on, the members of Marching band and the football team were his defenders and friends in high school.

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