I am so physically tired right now, I barely have the energy to write. I don’t know what it has been about this week, but I feel like I have narcolepsy. If those Five Hour Energy drinks didn’t taste so gross, I’d be at Sam’s Club picking up a case this week. Maybe it’s the time change from last week……….I feel like I haven’t slept in a month.
Anyway, onto the blog. I selected a novel this year for my fifth graders called “The Summer of the Swans” by Betsy Byars. It’s about a 14 year old girl named Sara who is depressed, has low self-esteem, and is going through the growing pains of becoming a teenager. Sara has a younger brother named Charlie who had an “illness” as a little boy and cannot speak, uses a wristwatch’s ticking to comfort himself, and has trouble falling asleep at night. (Sound like any disorder we know?) The words “autistic” or “autism” are never used in the story – likely because the book was published in 1970 when those words were barely part of our language, but to any mom of a child on the spectrum, Charlie’s behaviors are all too familiar. Sara takes Charlie to a lake (they live in West Virginia) to see a family of swans, and Charlie is fascinated. One night, Charlie thinks he sees one of the swans outside his window, and decides to follow it. He leaves his house in the middle of the night, and is lost for days. He is reunited with his family in the end, but it is still heartwrenching. Each time we read about Charlie in class, I see Michael (I give up on this whole “M” and “C” thing………..I’m quite sure only my friends are reading this). Just that image of Michael in that story has changed my whole attitude with him these days. My patience has grown, I’m more affectionate with him, and I am seeing a lot of difference in him, too. I wonder if this has rubbed off on him. In the story “The Summer of the Swans”, Sara compares her life to a kaleidoscope……..all the pieces of her life, like the colored stones inside, are the same, yet somehow everything for her has changed – like the designs do – and she feels unhappy. My kaleidoscope’s stones have turned, too, but the design I see is making me smile. Let’s hope it stays still ………..at least for a little while.