I absolutely love this question. I love it for so many different reasons. I love it because it comes with so many complexities, brings up so many feelings not just from me but from the person asking the question. So go ahead, ask me the question. Ask it casually in passing, ask it with love and enthusiasm which is what anyone who knows Aleck well does, or ask it full of care, concern, and worry, (said with a serious look in your eyes and a hand on my shoulder), “how’s Aleck doing?”
There are so many days when I wish every single one of you, every person I’m connected to on Facebook, every client I’ve ever had, every acquaintance who has heard about our story through friends, through family, through the power of social media, could spend some quality time with him in person. Because if you did there would be no serious look in your eye, there would be no cause for concern; out of everything going on in my life the highlight of every day, the bright spot in what’s been a very challenging journey so far is Aleck.
So to answer your question, he’s doing fan-effing-tastic! He’s about to finish this year in a new school and is openly excited to start another new school next year, though he has mixed feelings about leaving his friends behind. He’s about to leave the only home he’s ever known to move to an even more family-friendly Chicago ‘hood in the same building as friends from his current school. He’s getting ready (fingers still crossed as we are still waiting for scholarship information) for his first summer at camp, though he’s a little worried about having to swim since his swim lessons this year didn’t go, well, swimmingly. Through the multiple phases of packing up our stuff, his toys included, he hasn’t complained once, even after we removed all the glow in the dark stars from his walls. When we’ve been cleaning the house for showings and don’t have the time and energy to play with him he picks up a rag and asks how he can help. And when we recently lost my mother in law’s boyfriend he was respectful at the funeral and openly discusses with us how sweet he thought Michael was as he continues to process the very difficult topic.
Has it been a perfect year this school year? Of course not. But really, has anyone had a perfect anything? We had a rough ride getting the right para-educator in place at school, a tough time battling his Individualized Education Plan, and clearly, we’ve been very confused as to what our next step for his elementary schooling and our own future was going to be. One by one the details have been locked down and in the next few weeks, we’ll be back to box city. I asked Craig how long he thinks it’ll take us to get settled in the new place and he said September (I said December), so when I get anxious and overwhelmed I just keep thinking about what September is going to look like and more importantly feel like.
With a wonderful new home waiting for us, friends to greet us at the door, and a fabulous park down the street this piece of the puzzle is complete. With our condo under contract, the inspection already completed, just a few more details to put together and then that piece is complete. And with school in place, Aleck’s IEP adjusted for the para-educator for next year, we’re meeting with the school next week so they can get a feel for Aleck’s mobility issues and what kind of person would make the right candidate. From the sounds of it we get to meet the top two candidates before they get hired so we might be able to input our thoughts into the process. This means the school piece is nearing completion and fingers crossed he’ll have a smoother start to the school year in the fall. I’m working diligently to continue building my business as a photographer, making new connections and seizing new opportunities with each step in my day. Emailing about potential projects while lying in bed and watching the Tonight Show actually puts a smile on my face. Now for the last piece of the puzzle, Craig. With all his strengths, experience, and charm I know that he’s going to find a good fit for him and for our family. Aleck will be in school for a full day so he’ll have more freedom to explore opportunities but I’m hoping he’ll have something locked down before the class bell rings.
But back to the question at hand, “how’s Aleck doing?” He learned to pick his nose a few months ago and that’s been quite an experience. Like a toddler who’s just learned that fingers fit up noses, we can’t keep his digits booger free, but it’s totally worth it. You can see it adding to his sense of independence and that’s a wonderful sight, even if it’s kind of sticky. He can rub his eyes with his fingers instead of just wiping his face on my clothes, he can even get his fingers in his mouth and can now feel his own teeth and his own tongue. At night before bed, we used to spend cuddle time with his fingers playing with my nose, my tongue, feeling my teeth since he was curious and couldn’t reach his own. But for the creme de la creme, the piece de resistance, (excuse my total lack of French), he can hit his face with his hand without leaning on any surface. Of course, we’re hoping he doesn’t poke an eye out here, but we are so thrilled with all of this new movement and mobility. He’s determined to keep doing more and more every day, and it’s paying off.
Check out these videos at our new Smart Aleck Persin YouTube page to witness for yourself his new cool tricks and how much he enjoys his new favorite book, his dictionary (thanks, Cousin Judy!). And the next time you see me please feel free, with a big bright smile on your face, to ask me “how’s Aleck doing?” It’s my favorite question in the whole wide world.