Back to School and Expecting the Unexpected

Eddie and his sisters posing in the front yard

This summer I have been constantly surprised by Eddie. When his actions exceed my expectations, I’m almost ashamed that I’m surprised. I should expect him to be clever, teachable, and funny. Yet, I don’t always see it coming. As we go into another school year…I’m going to expect the unexpected. I’m going to expect to be surprised like I was all summer long.

When we went to a water park, I was avoiding the lines. I hate lines, and I assumed Eddie would, too. However, when he loved the “family ride” with an enormous line, the line didn’t matter. I said, “Do you want to go swimming, or STAND IN LINE?” To me the answer was obvious, and it was to Eddie, too. He said, “More line…OK!” I didn’t expect him to want the line, or to be happy while he waited, but he was.

His sister, Molly, taught Eddie a funny camp song that ended with a moose dying and the last line was, “He decomposed.” Eddie thought it was hilarious, and I thought it was because he liked the sound of the word “decomposed.” However, one day after a long swim, he sat in a lounge chair, fell back, and said, “He decomposed.” Not only was the line funny, but apparently so was Eddie.

Although Eddie has been “potty-trained” for years, he still needs verbal prompting sometimes to get him through all the steps involved in going to the bathroom. He said he had to use the bathroom, but I found him in there playing in the sink instead. As I was nagging in the doorway, he walked over, and shut the door in my face. He proceeded to use the bathroom 100% independently, then opened the door and walked right on by me. I thought he needed help, but he really needed privacy.

Eddie has never been overly affectionate, but as I spent a lot of time traveling for work this summer, that has somehow shifted. My previous impression was that he was content as long as Mom or Dad was home. I really didn’t think I’d be missed. Yet, upon my return from every trip, he marches quickly up the stairs at the sound of my voice. As soon as I sit down, he’s by my side and reaching for my hand. His smile, laughter, and snuggles are exactly what I need after being away, and I didn’t ever expect to get them from him.

Finally, he surprised me one more time this morning by unexpectedly throwing open my shower door while I was mid-shampoo. Although my first thoughts went to a “slasher” movie, I ended up laughing out loud…and so did Eddie. Just when I think he is often in “his own world”, he shows me that he understands our world very well, too.

So, to his teachers, family, and friends: expect the unexpected. Expect him to be funny, affectionate, witty, and clever. He always knows more than we think he does, and he’s always capable of more than we put on his shoulders. For the 2015-2016 school year, let’s surprise him by giving him more opportunities for independence and growth. Let’s surprise him by expecting him to do great things…because we know that he can.