I just scrolled through all of our Ring camera footage in the hopes that something Hayden did today was captured, but two of the cameras only caught the tail end of it so the perspective is lost.
I was inside when I heard him release a deafening shriek. For a split second it terrified me-- a bear was the first thing to come to mind-- but a scream of that volume was also familiar. I haven't heard it with quite that much gusto in a while, but luckily I very quickly realized what time it was & that my dad had arrived. Hayden didn't know he was coming to visit him today, but it's also worth noting he just saw my dad the day before yesterday.
The start of a new school year is typically bittersweet for me... hopeful for learning... for progress... for Hayden to gain confidence & useful life skills, etc. But it's also a subtle reminder that he's a 10th grader only by the number of years he has been in school. And actually because we opted not to have him start kindergarten right when he turned 5, he would in theory already have his learner's permit... & have been practicing being behind the wheel all summer.
Bittersweet also because even though we love his teacher & there are other wonderful people who work with him, it is also a very small school. It's a beautiful building in a lovely setting but it is a very small population of students. There are some advantages to this-- the pandemic for one has certainly emphasized that perspective. But among the downsides, for one, is much less opportunity for socialization.
Every school year we inch closer to a future reality for him, & all of the difficult adjustments & transitions that will come. But something as simple as his genuine, heartfelt excitement to see my dad really highlights another perspective. And it's something that a speech therapist from elementary school pointed out to me many years ago... how his Mayor-like presence wasn't anything I did & that it was all him. It was always the way he would make people feel. He is undoubtedly motivated by people who are genuinely excited to see him. But the fact that he so openly reciprocates in such an innocent, warm way without holding back... is rather rare. Especially for a teenager!
He's not self conscious about being excited to see someone. He's not worrying about what his happiness & enthusiasm might look like. He's just Hayden. (People at school know what I'm taking about-- they've witnessed this at one time or another over the years, in the pickup-line at the end of the day.) And while I know there are some wonderful teenagers out there who are truly kindhearted, I've never met anyone who screams with that much enthusiasm & joy unless (maybe) they're at a concert.
So as I scroll through social media & I'm a little more aware of differences (happens most often in August/ September & May/June)... & I'm a little more aware that I don't have a sophomore in high school with his learner's permit... & sports accolades or academic accomplishments.... I'm reminded that I do have a teenager who still has a smile that could melt your heart & light up an entire room. Because his heart is authentic & unfiltered. And there may not be a bumper sticker which captures that sort of essence, but I'm proud of Hayden's happy-scream. And every once in a while I give myself permission to brag about that.