Friday, June 15, 2012

Please don't forget me.

Here I am, excitedly running up the stairs to see him! 
He's up there. 
Probably eating cake and bouncing off the walls. He's up there. I bought him a gift, though it was so hard finding anything good enough. His birthday gift had to be perfect.
 I can imagine him running to me when he sees me like he did every morning at school. 
I imagine us doing our secret High five he loves. 
I am shaking with excitement. 
I reach the top and see him, my sweet baby. He's sitting on the ground with his back to me, lining up animal figurines on the ground so precisely. 
I can't believe he's 7 already, and that he's here... in the same room as me... when I thought I may never see him again. 
He's here. 
His grandmother lights up when she see's me.

 "Preston! Preston, look who's here!" 

He acts as though he cannot hear her and continues examining his small elephant toy. 
"Preston, look! It's Valerie!" 

I kneel beside him with my gift, overwhelmed with love and excitement. My baby, My little guy, right beside me. 
"Hi Preston!" I say. "..... Preston?" 

He looks over, dodging the sight of me completely and throws the toy story sticker book, and polar bear stuffed animal I bought him aside to see if there was anything really good in his gift bag.

 ".... Hey Preston, do you remember me?"

"Preston, look! Valerie is here for your birthday!", his grandmother chimes.

Preston... look at me.... 

Ok, so he may not recognize me (even though he hasn't really looked), but he'll remember our special high five!  The one we did every time he got a question right in class, or listened really well... every time I wanted to see him smile
He has to remember it: high five, up top, down low, to the side, cut the pickle, spider (I would whisper)... He loves the spider, as I would crawl up his arm with my fingers, he would whisper "faster" and I'd quickly crawl to tickle his tummy.

"Preston! High five!" I say as I hold my hand up. He slaps it without looking at me. 

"Preston up top!" 
.... nothing. 
"Preston! Preston, down low! ...... cut the pickle?.... Preston, do you want the spider?......"


This is where I step back. 

And suddenly it's real.
 He forgot me. 2 months, and I am a stranger. 
I feel.... empty. 
This isn't real. This is what I feared.
I'm a stranger to him.

His Grandmother tells me how he's just so focused on his new toys... She tells me about how he is doing, how none of his other Paraprofessional technicians after me worked out, how he began acting out, how he finished the 1st grade without an aide in class with him.
 I discuss how unbelievable that is to me, how he was such an incredible child, how I cannot imagine anyone not being able to work with him... 
I smile, and eat pumpkin cake, introduce my fiance to Preston's parents, while constantly looking over at Preston. Yearning for the boy I spent so much time working with. As My fiance (who happens to work at the same place as Preston's mom) discusses business, I stare at Preston longingly.

He's different. Reserved. Non-responsive. This isn't my little guy. Can 2 months really undo all of our hard work? All of our progression? Please, give me a sign that I made any difference at all. Reassure me you didn't forget me.
Don't cry.
 He has to remember me. Mental condition or not, we had a connection. He's my buddy, my client, he's like my little brother.

Preston, look at me. Come on Angel, just look at me. 

You remember me, don't you? 

You remember how we used to play at recess everyday, and how after recess you would make me chase you down the hall.  You remember how I used to make your lunch and cut your pizza bagel bites into fourths, and how I used to ask you about your weekend and talk to myself as if your were responding. Don't you remember how I would recite back to you the movies you would quote just to see you smile? Do you remember me securely holding your hand after school while we waited for grandma so that you wouldn't run into the street? I was so excited to see you, to see how you lost your two front teeth, and to watch you laugh and play...

A moment later he turns around, and briefly looks at me. Emptily, he glances away. 


He doesn't know me.

He doesn't know me Anymore.

Oh, Please....
... no...

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