I’ve been blogging about being Jacob’s dad over the last six weeks or so, and it’s been a challenge. But part of that is just being more aware of some of the day-to-day issues that get lost, fortunately, in the awesomeness of the 98% of Jacob that is fantastic little boy. Today was Jacob’s second last day in kindergarten, and of course it’s performance time. A play, some dancing, a song, etc. And then a slide show that one of the parents put together of pics and videos of the last two years (the kids had the same teacher and ECE for two years, so they did 2 years of videos). It was the same at Xmas six months ago, and the end of year last June.
Most of it is fun, getting to go to Jacob’s classroom and seeing him there. He is SOOO happy that we have come and he clearly wants to show us off that we are there. And we are so proud of everything he’s accomplished.
Then the bad side of being proud of him sneaks in around the corner. When he’s alone with us, it’s easy to focus on the 98%. The 2% is always present, and it is part of him, but it doesn’t define him. But when he’s in a room of his peers, the 2% stands out more than I would like. Videos of the kids doing Head/Shoulders/Knees/Toes and all the kids are doing it, including Jacob…but he’s sitting on his special pillow rather than standing and crouching like the other kids. So he’s sort of doing it, and sort of not. Another video had them in the gym, and all the kids doing some exercise relatively in unison, and Jacob not really doing it. He’s doing his own thing, and moving himself farther away from the group on his own. Self-exiling behaviour, they call it. Heart-breaking to see, is what I call it.
He can’t run like the other kids, he can’t keep up. He tries so hard. Even a few weeks ago he told his mom that he wanted to “practice running” so that he could get fast like the other kids, because when he told his legs to go faster, they actually “went slower” he said. The same week he didn’t want us to sign the permission form for jump rope practice because he said “he couldn’t do it anyway”. It kills me to see him realize that regardless of how awesome he is, there will sometimes be physical limitations that he can’t easily overcome, some physical parts that will separate him from the other kids.
The kids all got to choose their roles for the presentation today — some wanted to dance (5 girls), some wanted to be speakers in the play (about 10), others wanted to do props and set design (including Jacob). Except when we talked about going today, Jacob wasn’t that excited initially — because he said he didn’t get to do anything, he just painted the tree. Like his dad, he doesn’t gravitate naturally to the spotlight (for me, it’s a conscious choice that I force myself to make). And we made a big deal out of his tree, of course.
But when they introduced everyone, the seven or so kids who were on props all stood in a line and spoke one by one. Most of them stood relatively in line. Not Jacob. He moved over about five feet, constantly in motion, constantly moving from foot to foot, grabbing on to the table, lifting himself up by his two arms and swinging. Doing his own thing, because he can’t simply stand still like the others for very long and wait.
It doesn’t change anything about Jacob’s abilities, or who he is. It doesn’t define him anymore than it did before. But when I spend so much time reminding myself of the importance of the 98%, it bothers me a lot when I see the 2% so glaringly in contrast with his peer group. And it worries me for his social side in the years to come. He just started seeing himself as different this year and his self-illusion of perfection has started to crack a little.
I know reality sucks, but I just wish he could hang on to that illusion a lot longer…or that I could.