Do the numbers lie?

10 months. That’s a long time. A long time to be with 20 students. A long time to invest in each and everyone of them and their families. It’s a bond that will be with me forever.

That’s a school year. That is teaching. That is my life for 10 months.

When the final day of school comes, it’s received different by everyone. My students are moving on. My once great and powerful Oz voice that existed in September evaporated into a shell of itself in the month of June.

That is the conclusion of the school year for the majority as my two oldest children are ready for an activity filled summer.

My pregnant wife, Kellie, is ready for me to go from Mr. Rubin to just Jon and Dad.

And then there is Sawyer.

Sawyer had the quickest of turnarounds out of all. He finished school, had two days off, and went back to his extended school year without missing a beat.

He loves the small bus. He loves getting on it. He loves working with his teachers. He loves the playground as his giggle echoes across the air while he bounds towards the swing.

He loves coming home as he even gives me a squeeze. I pause when this happens. I don’t get a hug often as it’s typically saved for his mom. However, when he does, I look down on him, kiss his head and embrace the moment.

it’s all glory right now. Or it was until I opened Sawyer’s backpack.

His standardized test results were in his bag. Looking at them made me tilt my head back in forth a bit.

The teacher in me knows that it is only one data point. I’m fine with reading numbers that put him in any average or below average bracket. Test scores don’t define him.

My heartache in this stems more so thinking about how these assessments mean nothing to him.

His numbers attached to his name are just numbers. Those numbers don’t lie at the moment he was working. I’m ok with that. It’s the reality of data.

What is difficult for me with Sawyer is that for someone who doesn’t know him may infer that he is below average and that irks me.

It bothers me because of the amount of effort that it has taken from his teachers. They work they have put in to get him to this point to arrive at answers it such an accomplishment that it trumps the result.

The path was far greater than the result. So the numbers did lie from a certain point of view.

We just have to keep changing the world regardless of what the numbers say.

Holding on

The summer has arrived. The weather is warm. The pollen is a sea of yellow on my dash as my Jeep roof is open. The school year is at its conclusion.

Our first grader is about to embark on another break, which historically has been a tidal wave of challenges.

Sawyer needs routine. It’s not wise to challenge that. He does his best waking up, having breakfast, getting dressed, and going to school. Not having that structure tends to be a challenge for him.

Thankfully for him, he will begin his extended school year in a matter of weeks. I will take him to school by myself. I will pick him up with Oscar the pug per his request.

Oscar will cry as we wait in the pick up line until he sees Sawyer. Sawyer will giggle while pointing to Oscar. And Michael Jackson’s Black or White may be his first song request when he sits.

We will discuss a plan the night before about his following day. We will go over his plan in the morning before I drop him off.

Though exhausting at times, this is who he is. He needs to know about what will be happening. It’s as redundant as my kitchen sink piling up with dishes. I hate doing dishes.

The real kicker this summer is the road work going on outside our home. At any given moment, a road route could change. Though this may seem a non issue, try explaining that to Sawyer.

He has his own map. He has his way to get somewhere. He needs to know when work will be complete. He will perseverate on this day after day after day.

So though the excitement is in the air, I need to be realistic with what is to come. He and I are holding on to our seats for another summer.

What if

I don’t know what happened but I woke up one day as an adult. I had three children and twins on the way. I haven’t seen my brother in 8 years. My parents live in different states. I have no living grandparents.

Years ago, a guy at my gym used to respond when I asked him how he was doing by telling me that he had a wife, three kids, and a mortgage. He was 40. I was 23.

I’m now him plus more.

I don’t know his story. I struggle at times to figure out my own.

I see what I have. I see what I have lost. I see what I continue to gain.

That’s life.

I do worry about the what if though. It keeps me up at times.

What if Sawyer doesn’t make friends? Will his life be that of a loner who is known as Autistic? Will the label be with him regardless of his progress?

What if he decides to be independent even if he isn’t ready? How will my wife Kellie and I navigate the world of an Autistic adult?

What if there is no Kellie and I? How will Sawyer self advocate when he needs support? How will his siblings guide him and work together?

These are all unknowns and aspects of our life that we need to plan for.

These are just a few because once I start rolling, there is no stop.

There are nights when this starts at 9 and I see the clock at 10,11, and 12.

I envision every scenario. It’s almost like a freeze frame of a movie that I’m not holding the controls to.

That’s my reality. That’s my fears. That’s my honesty.

That’s my what if.