A few weeks ago, our youngest son, Ben, came home with a rather bulky backpack. Bob, the preschool bear, had come home with Ben. This stuffed bear had been making his rounds visiting all the homes of the preschool kids. He stayed two nights in each home. The child and their parents then wrote a story about his great adventures in Bob’s journal and he returned to school where the class got to read the story. Then, he was off for a new adventure with a new friend.
I somehow missed the memo that Bob was coming, or rather that Bob even existed at all. This is the reality of having a child with autism: communication is impaired, sometimes like non-existent. So, I was quite surprised to find a bear in my son’s backpack and part of me wondered who was having a breakdown at that very moment because their bear was missing. Ben is not a thief. I’m not implying that at all. But I know the floor plan of his classroom. Cubbies and backpack hooks are close together in close quarters and mistakes happen. More than once I’ve found something that belongs to a classmate in his backpack and more than once while picking him up after school, I’ve seen a classmate accidentally put something in Ben’s backpack by mistake.
Once I read the journal and got with the program, I said, “Hey, Ben! Who’s this?”
His face lit up. Gasp! “It’s BOB!”
They danced with The Wiggles, played the piano, pretended to go to the doctor and enjoyed a bedtime story all on the first night. The next day was the preK class field trip. We rode a school bus to the Amtrak station in Galesburg, took the train to Macomb, had lunch, went bowling and then took the bus back to school where Ben shuffled off to occupational therapy while his classmates headed home with their parents.
I’ll admit, I had my doubts about a bear that went home with every student, playing outside, going for hikes, sleeping in their beds, all while colds, flu, and allergies seemed to run amuck, but Ben talked so much, so clearly, and in sentences in those short two days, especially the first night, I found myself wondering how many more kids Bob needed to visit and how Bob would spend his summer.
Ben was such a great caretaker while on the field trip. I was worried, no, terrified that we would lose Bob and the duo of Mom and Ben would forever be cursed as the ones who lost Bob. However, Ben was so great at keeping track of Bob, talking to him, involving him in our day, there was nothing to worry about! His teacher noticed this as well, and on Ben’s last day of school, guess who came home with him? And not just for the summer, but for good. Bob is home, and Ben couldn’t be happier.
Welcome home, Bob.
Thank you, Mrs. Darst!