Anyway. Today was the start of the last VBS of the summer, and I spruced up the 2 who would actually be out of my eyesight for the day and phoned it in on the other 2. My logic was I could put clean clothes on them when they got home. Except this time, the registration desk asked if R2 would be staying, which was not something I had thought of. One of the hard things about R2 is he is aware that everyone else is going somewhere fun but not aware enough to participate, generally. So I explained that and they said they had a couple of other special kids, and by this point, R2 was jumping wildly because he caught their drift, and so I left him, in his grungy too-big jeans and with a little leftover cereal on his face. You know that kid, that special needs kid, that looks like nobody bathes him, like maybe he's just escaped Ms. Hannigan's orphanage and is running wild? Kind of like that, dadgummit.
I told the teacher that he should just stay with Toby. "If he's with his brother," I said, "he'll do fine." Toby took it to heart, promising that Richy would be his shadow, and they moseyed over to the sanctuary and sat on a pew near the back. I was worried that Toby would be separated from his class, would miss out on the group activities, and I worried that R2 would cry, or that the teachers would be afraid of him, the way that people are sometimes. But I took my baby and went home. At lunch I came back up and found Toby and Richy sitting at a table with 2 teachers, and when I walked up to them R2 started signing "All done, all done," and so I asked him 100 times if he wanted to stay or go, and he wanted to go. So we came home for an hour or 2 and then went back to get the others. When we returned, Toby was deep in the mix, dancing and doing hand motions.
On the way home, I told Toby that R2 would probably stay home the other days. "I want you to have fun," I told him, "And I think maybe you have to focus too much on taking care of Richy, so maybe he'll just stay with me tomorrow." Toby paused for a second, and I was expecting him to agree, but he said, "No! I want him there, he's my brother! I like helping him."
And there's something in my heart that's breaking, because this is his reality, and he loves his brother. He will probably never have the confusing emotions I have, with loving R2 and being proud of him and still, slightly embarrassed and overly aware of other people's response to him, all the mental juggling I do to explain him, to accommodate him, to try to find a safe place- for Toby, it's his brother, and he likes helping him. Simple.
I don't know if I'll send him back. But I'm proud of my boys today.