Saturday, September 8, 2012

Homecoming Queen

We had gone from store to store, looking for a Homecoming dress for my oldest daughter; mall to mall, driving all over. Our last stop was a local resale shop, where dresses were sorted by color. We were looking specifically for a short, green dress, per my daughters instructions. After selecting several dresses to try on, my daughter and her friend went to the dressing room. First she came out in the short, green dress she just "had to have". It was fairly hideous, with way too much beading and detail. The second was a short, poufy purple dress that reminded me of Shirley Temple. No. The last dress she came out in blew us all away. Crystal blue, with a strapless, fitted bodice, but flowing to the floor. She looked like Cinderalla. We were all speechless as she twirled around and around. We had found "THE DRESS".

As we were waiting for the friend to try on her dresses, Katie was looking around at what the store had to offer. "Mom", she says to me as she made her way around the racks, jutting her hip out to the side with her hand on her hip, "Mom, I am going to be Homecoming Queen!" I just had to laugh, for no reason other than my girls were all born with their father's confidence and not mine. "I am going to be Homecoming Queen, but if I don't win, I am still going to Homecoming." Now, Katie is just in middle school, so any chance of her going to the Homecoming Dance is still at least 3 years away. That didn't stop her from shopping for her dress (and calling double dibs on her sister's dress). She fell in love with the strappy purple number, and thought that I should buy it for her right then and there. In any case, she is bound and determined to attend that dance when it comes. And she is bound and determined to be crowned Homecoming Queen. I am not one to shatter her dreams. As long as she understands that there can only be one Queen, and a lot of girls in her class want to be it, I will go ahead and let her run for it when the time comes.

In my mind I can already picture it. Here Katie comes, clinging to her daddy's arm as he escorts her down the football field. The announcer introduces each girl, and when he comes to Katie, it goes something like this, "Next up we have Kaitlyn Cassette, escorted by her father. Katie is on the Honor Role, and a member of the National Honor Society. She is involved in Student Council and her church activities. Katie enjoys bowling, hanging out with her friends, and listening to her music. When she graduates high school, Katie dreams of being a greeter at Disneyworld." Then, as the previous queen walks back and forth amongst the girls, I will be up in the stands having a panic attack. When she finally puts the crowd on Katie's head, the crowd goes wild. I leap over the stands to attack her, and she is jumping up and down, screaming in excitement. Her grandparents are up in the stands, with her sisters and the rest of the family, beside themselves with emotion. Can you just see it? Can you picture it in your mind? Did I just make you cry?

Having a daughter with Autism is a roller coaster ride. The emotions alone take me on a ride every day of my life. A situation like the one I just described would be a culmination of 17 years of struggles, trials and tribulaions, triumphs and heartache. When Katie has something special happen, it is a direct reflection of how far she has come in her short life. The obstacles that she has navigated. It is also fullfilling to me, and her father. And to all the family, friends, teachers, and community members that have assisted her along the way. Her success is our success, and the pride we feel is overwhelming.

I am not saying that Katie is going to be the Homecoming Queen when she is a senior. But I am not saying that she won't be either. She is wanting more and more each day to do what her classmates are doing, go where they are going, and live like they are living. So who am I to tell her she can't? The whole world is out there, just waiting for her to take it on. There will be things that she will try that she will fail at. There will be things that she wants to do that she just can't do. Her heart will be broken by friends, by teachers, by her parents, by the world. But the same is just as true for my other two daughters. So if our Adventures in Autism lead her to becoming royalty, I will be the first in line to shine her crown.