Yes we hear it all the time. Don’t let the past define you. Don’t look back at where you were. Keep moving forward. The past isn’t relevant.
Yesterday I had a look back, and I think that’s something we should do every now and then. It reminds us of how far we’ve come, of what life was like, the challenges you thought you’d never make it through. And gives you the strength to know that the future is worth all this work you’re putting into the now.
Let me set the scene.
Yesterday Tim won the Academic improvement award for Writing for Year 6 at his school. A mainstream school, a mainstream award. Coupled with the celebration assembly was a farewell to our fabulous Deputy Principal who was an integral part of Tim’s world for 5 years and was a very special lady who touched a lot of children’s (and their mums) hearts. Because of her Farewell, many of the old teachers from school had come back to attend.
After the assembly, I walked outside to be greeted by some of Tim’s old teachers with tears in their eyes, hugging me and him, saying how proud they were and how they never thought they would see the day that he was up in front of the whole school getting awards. They couldn’t believe how far he’d come, and until they reminded me, I guess I hadn’t looked back for a while either.
His Prep teacher said to me “Kris, do you remember you were in here all of the year before he started school, taking photos and bringing him into the classroom to prepare him. Do you remember he was still not going to the toilet when he started Prep and how it took us nearly all year to get that right”. I had forgotten that.
She said to Tim, “Tim I’m so proud of you getting writing awards, do you remember when I used to ask you to write and you would scream at me NOOOOOO and throw the pencil and run away”. Nope I’d forgotten that too.
Then the Deputy said “Tim do you remember how many times you were in my office and we had to talk about why it was inappropriate to threaten to blow up the school and the teachers when things were going wrong. Do you remember our boys’ club and the cartoons (social stories) we sat and wrote together?” Tim couldn’t remember but I suddenly did. And I was crying along with them, thinking of how far we’ve come. Tim couldn’t go to the toilet or hold a pencil or have a conversation or do a million of the other things the other kids could do. We had many many rough years – phone calls, incidents, new social stories, new strategies, specialists visits to the school. But not once, not for a second, did any of those teachers give up on him. Together we worked through it all and somehow it all started coming together. Probably not really until this year to be honest, his 7th year at school.
Those wonderful women who were on our side, who worked through it all and put up with a hell of a lot of crappy times, never gave up on him, and yesterday’s achievement was as special to them as it was to Tim and I.
They told me they tell our story often. They have learned so much from Tim. And I was grateful for that little look back yesterday. It seems a different world. Many of the experiences of those years I’ve deliberately blocked from my memory I expect. But I was glad to open up that box yesterday and have a look behind us, for it has given me the strength to know that any challenges we’re facing now will be able to be overcome as well, and years from now we might take a glance back and see how far we’ve come.