Heart-breaking question, of course, but not unexpected. Now that Hart has been away almost a month, the honeymoon period at his residential school is over.
What has been unexpected is how much I miss Hart. Not Hart's behavior, oh no! I do not miss the crazy rituals, the parties in the wee hours, the unexpected tantrums and meltdowns. I miss Hart, the person, the sweet, sensitive boy. Sadly, Hart the boy and Hart the whirlwind of catastrophic behavior are inseparable. That knowledge hasn't made it much easier though. I have gotten through the past twelve years with an emotional menu of rage, mortification, and gritted-teeth determination. Now the unfamiliarity of resignation and occasional sadness has caught me unawares.
As predicted, Jeff is also calmer and more appropriately behaved. "It's quiet. Too quiet," he observed in the first week. True enough. Jeff still rolls his eyes when I speak. He is, after all, almost fifteen years old. However, he is chatty and gregarious much of the time now. He is funny, where in the past, he was unrelentingly silly.
The professionals who recently counseled me were unanimous: this arrangement will be better for everyone. And, of course, it is. Hart does not know or understand that all other options for him; day school, public or private, have been exhausted. This is the last step on the I.D.E.A.* ladder of providing "free and appropriate" education. So I had to say gently to Hart, "This is your new school and you will be there for high school. We'll make plans for a visit together soon."
* Individuals With Disabilities Education Act