With the onset of middle school, I had to finally give up walking Brooke to her class every morning.
We stop at the bottom of the hill, some 50 yards from the entrance to the school. We give each other a kiss on the cheek and then do something we call the “rollers” where we rub our cheeks together. I watch, every morning with my breath held, as a little piece of my heart goes running up the hill and off to school.
For those of you who have been here from the beginning, or who have an autistic child, you know that Brooke’s attempts at play bids are clumsy and awkward at best, often leaving the recipients of those bids unsure of what to do. Different kids react in different ways, but often, they will simply look at each other and move on. I don’t know if Brooke is totally aware of how things are playing out or if she is blissfully ignorant – either way, it hurts to watch as a parent.
About halfway up the hill is a girl, by the looks of her from 25-30 yards, I would guess she is in 8th grade. She is obviously waiting for some friends to arrive on the buses that are beginning to pull in. Brooke veers toward her. My already held breath turns into a ball of lead in my sternum.
Lately, Brooke has taken to making faces at people. She will put her thumbs to her temple and stick out her tongue and squinch up her face.
I see the hands go to her head, elbows flaring out. Though her back is turned to me, I can easily tell she is making faces at this girl. ‘Oh crap!’ I think to myself…
…and then the girl makes a face back.
…and then Brooke bows to her.
…and the girl bows back.
…and then Brooke heads into school.
This has been played out on almost a daily basis. Sometimes, if we are early or late, we miss her, but whenever we are on time, it is the same routine…the same connection.
I have no idea who this girl is, but whoever you are, thank you.