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Aug 03

A bag for a man

I just bought Sam a bag for school, and promptly burst into tears.

He’s been using Jessie’s hand-me-down backpack from high school and it’s been fine. I mean, it’s purple and not all that functional for him, but it fit his laptop.

Sam never asks for anything. Ever. Occasionally, he’ll ask for a video game, or a coke. Some skittles on occasion. But he never asks for clothes or shoes. But he asked for a laptop bag that wasn’t a backpack. I found one that’s for an adult man. Which makes sense. But wow. I wasn’t ready for that.

It comes on the same day that Sam took the paratransit round trip to work, the same day I dropped off my application and CORI form to the JCC, and I think it suddenly hit me – he’s going to go out into the world without me. He’s going to be independent and on his own. Marc and I have always talked about the risks with kids – whenever you let them do something independent for the first time, it’s scary and hard. But the risk, if you don’t do it, is that they don’t know how to do it when they’re on their own.

It hits harder when it’s Sam. Especially because he doesn’t push for independence. Sam’s used to not being able to do things. He can’t go to school, he can’t ride a bike, he can’t go to the beach. He can’t, he can’t, he can’t. Everything he does, I push first. And sometimes, it’s successful and sometimes it isn’t. Every set back feels awful and weighted and hard. Things were so hard for him, for so long, and the only thing I could do to make it easier was be with him.

But that’s not a good long-term strategy. I can’t be with him all the time. He was so happy today – because he arranged for his own transport, chatted away with his boss and co-workers, took the ride back. He’s thriving. He loves this. I’m pushing – in that I’m sugggesting. But he’s ready for this – he’s so calm and poised and confident. And he needs a bag where he can fit a water bottle, maybe lunch. His phone, his laptop, paperwork, etc.

It’s not that I missed out on time with Sam. I didn’t, I was there for all of it. But we missed the middle years. Collectively. He and I, and Marc – his middle childhood was so different because he wasn’t at school. He wasn’t experiencing things with his peers. He went from a little boy bag to a man bag, and tonight, it just hit me a little harder than I was expecting.

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