We sat on the school steps, a good twenty minutes after the last stragglers raced by clutching their backpacks. Some glanced at us, some said hi, some barely noticed as they darted past.
"Come on, sweetie, time to go in," I urged softly, for perhaps the fortieth time. "Noooooooo," he wailed. "I want another story about going to school."
I relented. "Last one, then we go in, okay?" "Okay," he whispered back. "Once upon a time there was a boy named Isaac..." And I told him about getting dressed, and getting into the car, and driving past all the familiar streets, and all the things he would do today.
He climbed into my lap and nestled close to me as I whispered the story to him, and began playing idly with the zipper of his jacket. A slow smile played across his face, as if he was remembering a private joke.
"It looks like cereal," he announced suddenly looking up. I was totally confused. "What looks like cereal, sweetie?" And then I saw it: the little yellow rectangular piece of velcro at the bottom that secures the waistband and helps keeps the wind out. The fibers looked for all the world like a piece of shredded wheat.
"You know, you're right. It does look like cereal." "Yeah," he answered softly, and snuggled in a little closer.
Finally I urged him into the building, a good forty minutes after we'd arrived. He dawdled by the library for a while and then reluctantly followed me down the hall. We stood there silently as he decided his next move. And then, without any warning at all, he darted into the classroom and joined the other kids.
I walked back to the car, and all I could think was how unfair it is that the most ordinary things can be so excruciating for him, and how blessed he is that even in the throes of his most difficult moments, he can stop to appreciate the language of things, the poetry in a piece of velcro.