On Wednesday, I opened Wil’s school folder and found a letter folded in half. There was an intricate drawing on the outside of the letter to make it appear an envelope. I opened the letter and a colorful “Hey Wil! Good Morning!” popped out at me. Along the side of the letter were the names of Wil’s friends, who were also the creators: Sarah Stommen, Ashley Bobo, Lilly Smith, Lila Harvey. I knew how good this letter made me feel. I could only imagine what it felt like to Wil.
On Thursday, Wil and I went to his school’s Academic Awards night. He’d been to this event previous years for Katherine and Elizabeth, but this was the first time he would be walking up on the stage to accept an award for himself (Wil is on track for a Certificate of Completion).
Wil doesn’t like to be in auditoriums, or any place with loud abrupt noises such as applause. Even the anticipation of applause will keep him from entering the auditorium. Wil typically wears his noise-cancelling headphones to these events, but on Thursday night he didn’t want to wear them. (As he’s gotten older, he’s become more self-aware and refuses his headphones in nearly all instances except movie theaters.)
When we walked up to the school, Wil saw his friends mingling on the sidewalk. Wil ran to them, and they ran to him, becoming a blur of laughter and hugs. The friends walked together into the auditorium and Wil didn’t hesitate once at the entrance. They all chose seats together near the stage.
I chose a seat a few rows up because I still wasn’t sure how things would go when he went up on the stage. But Wil handled it like a pro. He walked up to accept his award when his name was called, then made his way back down to his seat with his friends. When the event was over, he and his friends ran outside together for pictures.
On Friday, the school had a civil war re-enactment. Square dancing was part of the event. Wil’s paraprofessional sent me a video of Wil square dancing with his classmates. He was all smiles and followed every direction of the square dance right along with everyone else.
There were hiccups and deeper frustrations mixed in our week, too. But that’s how it goes with Wil. I’ve learned to take every moment one step at a time, because every stuck moment breaks way to freedom in the form of a supportive note, a good friend, or Wil’s own emergence of independence.
One of the greatest gifts of raising Wil is that no moment could ever be taken for granted as typical.