Number 3 didn’t start preschool until he was four. He was extremely shy, very anxious, and was described by his teacher as a child who “is always on the perimeter; always an observer.”
She went on to tell me that she didn’t think anything was wrong with him, though.
She didn’t mean it in a bad way. But he was so quiet and so unwilling to participate that another teacher may have suggested he be tested for something.
He literally went through the entire year without saying a word unless he was forced to.
When it came time to visit kindergarten for orientation, Number 3 had a full blown meltdown.
Like he freaked out. Fucking lost it. Lay down on his back on the sidewalk outside the building and began flailing his arms and legs and shrieking and crying.
We never made it inside the building for that orientation.
Number 3 told me he went through his entire year of first grade without ever saying his teacher’s name.
He was so nervous about being on the bus and the bus breaking down that he performed rituals every day to make sure he would get home safely without having to change buses.
He was kind of a disaster, and I have always worried about him more than any of the other kids.
He’s in fourth grade now, and one of the perks of being the oldest grade in the school is the fourth grade play.
Number 4 has been dreaming about the fourth grade play for years.
She can’t wait to be a fourth grader so she can audition.
It’s not surprising. She was kind of made for the stage.
But not Number 3.
5 years ago when Number 3 was thrashing around on the sidewalk of his soon-to-be school having the world’s largest panic attack, I would have assured you he’d have no interest in being in any play.
4 years ago when he screamed bloody murder any time he didn’t know exactly where I was, I would have told you there would be no way he would audition for that play.
3 years ago when Number 3 would walk downstairs in the middle of the night, every single night, to make sure I hadn’t left the house and abandoned him, I would have looked at you like you were a complete moron if you asked if my son was taking part in the fourth grade play.
2 years ago when he was in the locker room after swim practice and a man he didn’t know was changing in front of his locker so he couldn’t get to it and rather than say Excuse me to the man he stood mute in the locker room for fifteen minutes in a wet bathing suit waiting for the guy to move, I would have bet double or nothing on the fact that he would never, ever take part in some play.
And yesterday, when the cast list was posted for this year’s fourth grade production of Aladdin, I never would have thought that Number 3 would audition. And I certainly never in a million years dreamed that he would be cast as…
But he was.
And I couldn’t be more proud of him.