The Future is Bright

Every year, the weekend before my son’s school begins, they host a “Husky Picnic.”  Blankets and chairs, umbrellas and pop-ups cover the football field. A live band is playing cover songs from the 80’s and the kids excitement is in the air.  Watching Kyle jump out of the car and run to find his buddies, puts a huge smile on my face. In the past year he has blossomed. He is comfortable in his own skin and is learning who he is, and that he is a pretty awesome kid.  This picnic is to bring us Huskies all together, a way to celebrate the new year and a chance for the new families to meet others. You could feel the nervous energy of both the kid and the parents as the entered their new home. I was in the exact same place last year, and all my feelings were still very much with me.  


I wanted to make a point to be involved with welcoming all the new families into the school, and make them feel as comfortable as possible.  Most of these kids are coming from unhappy situations, where the school that they were at before, was not the right fit. These kids could have been bullied and teased, or maybe their friends started changing as they got older, and they no longer “fit in.”  School could have been a hated place, filled with anxiety, frustration, and aloneness. School also could have been a place that they loved recess and lunch, (who didn’t, that is the time we play with our friends,) but school work was difficult, fast paced or to overwhelming of an environment.  Whatever the case may be, these parents have made the decision to try something new, something best for their kid. They are taking the leap and with every ounce of hopefulness and optimism, they are starting a new journey. As I was talking to a new mom, I could see so much emotion in her face, and I could feel it in her energy.  I told her, “I have been there, my son struggled with anxiety and self esteem issues, he is a sweet boy who was drowning. He is an observant child, so putting himself in a situation of any kind where he would stand out, never happened. This would be, trying a new sport, reading aloud or sharing to the class, wearing crazy socks, even on crazy sock day - they may not be “good enough.” “  Kyle is such a bright kid, he has been since he was a toddler. He is an old soul, the sweetest boy, I know no one else with a heart as golden as his. His therapists, teachers and tutors all wanted to put an imaginary bubble around him to protect him from the world. Obviously we can’t do that, but we can teach our kids to love themselves and be proud of who they are. I wanted everything that Kyle had to share with the world to be untouched, I wanted to protect all his gifts.  So my sweet shut-down learner, who suffers from Inattentive ADHD has in the past year, played on the volleyball and basketball team, proclaimed he loves art, reads aloud to his class with confidence and has true friendships. This summer I think something clicked, and he actually wanted to read. His summer reading book was I am Malala. I said, “this is what did it? I am Malala? You have to be kidding me. I have got you animal books, lego books, choose your own adventure books….  I am Malala??? “ We both laughed. Whatever it takes, I don’t care, I am so proud of this kid. So as I talked to this mom and shared a little of my story, she almost teared up. She didn’t need to say anything, because I had been there, right in her shoes. I have the same feelings of wanting our kids to find their place and find happiness and joy. We want to see them smile and rock this world with self confidence and be proud of who they are.

The picnic was a huge success.  Parents were mingling and kids were forming their packs, walking the field talking.  I sat in my beach chair listening to the music and soaking in the amazing energy I was surrounded by.  Caden, my middle child - who has Autism as most of you know… had found a girlfriend the second we arrived.  They ran around getting snow cones, tie dying shirts, dressing up in the photo booth… it was so cute. Just when I felt relaxed I hear him calling my name, “mom, mom, I’m soaking wet.”  I turned around to see my son standing in his ethika underwear, soaking wet, clothes in his hand. Welcome to my world. I said, “Caden, your naked!” “I know mom,” he replied. “Why aren’t you wearing your clothes?”  I asked.. “Because I didn’t want them to get wet, I was in an epic water balloon battle!” As I helped him shimmy back into his clothes with his wet body, I reminded him of what is appropriate behavior. I also reminded him that he was going to be going to this school in a year, and it might be a good idea to stay clothed!     

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Angela Wingard