Today, we celebrated Sofia’s graduation from elementary. My husband took the afternoon off from work to be in the graduation ceremony of our eldest child. All of us were there, including Miguel.
Honestly, I was thinking of calling our respite worker so we could go to the ceremony without him. I knew it was selfish of me to think of leaving him in the house. But I was thinking I should focus my attention, this time, on my daughter. I didn’t want to be preoccupied with taking care of Miguel. He is usually agitated when in a big crowd especially with loud noise and bright lights. And when he’s uncomfortable, he cries a lot. He doesn’t want to be in his stroller nor in my arms. He just wants to be in his bed, in his room.
I wanted to leave him in the house for one other reason, a more selfish one. I didn’t want to find myself having to explain to others why he’s not responding when being talked to. Or why he is always looking upwards. Or why his eyes look funny. Or why he claps his hands a lot. I didn’t want to hear little children say, “That baby looks weird.” Or see their parents stare at him.
I was selfish… for a moment.
But then, I told myself that Miguel is part of the family and my daughter’s graduation was a family celebration. He is so much a part of our family as my other children. So, why would I leave him? I dressed him up and prepared his things: feeding bag, machine, tube, syringes, and rescue medicine. These are in addition to diapers, change of clothes, lots of blanket and wipes (in the event he throws up).
During the program, he was uneasy and was crying as expected. I wasn’t able to focus much on the ceremony. But I felt good. I felt good because we were all there: my husband, me and our four children. We were all there together celebrating one of our family’s achievements.
I found myself braver today. I didn’t even notice the stares. I was also surprised with myself when one of my daughter’s teachers approached us and talked to Miguel. She tried to get his attention but he was just looking at his hands. I could tell by that teacher’s face she’s wondering why. For the first time, I didn’t apologize nor give an excuse for Miguel’s behavior being a special needs child. I just smiled at her. It felt good.
After the program, Sofia walked up to us and put her certificate on Miguel’s arms. It says a lot with how she feels about her baby brother being there in her graduation. And I know each one of us in the family feels the same way.