On Thursday, the schedule changed at Denney after I had already told Lance and Jamie that I’d come get them from class. When I went up to call for them, they were in a different classroom and I felt anxious about pulling them since I hadn’t asked that teacher. I saw them motioning to me through the window, but I was talking with officers and trying to decide the best next step. A few minutes later, they were sent out to me because they had self-advocated to the teacher. Lance was upset. He was frustrated and disappointed that I hadn’t just come in when he motioned to me, and kept saying “You wouldn’t f****ng listen! Wasting my damn time!” He didn’t even want to dance at that point. He also didn’t want to go back. I apologized for not recognizing what he’d been motioning to me, and I gave him my iPad and the headphones and let him just chill, because that is sometimes truly what he needs. He didn’t talk the rest of the time and didn’t make eye contact with me. That’s okay.
On Friday, he walked in and said I need to start being confident and “G up,” because nobody cares if I pull them or not. I told him they DO care, they want him to be in class. He said, “You think they care? Nobody f****ng cares about us, Emmy! You are literally the only person!” I know this not to be true, but I also have the luxury of spending one-on-one time with them which makes it easier to show. I told him again that I was sorry, but that I would still always need to check with the teachers because they do indeed care.
Fast forward five minutes. We are talking about an incident the day before when Jamie accidentally hit me in the back of my thigh with a chair leg. My eyes had instantly watered and I left quickly, not because it hurt but because I felt triggered by being unexpectedly hit from behind. I tell Lance and Jamie that I’m sorry I had rushed out without saying bye. Jamie says he’s so sorry and that he felt hella bad. I say it’s fine, it didn’t hurt, it had just triggered me in the moment. Lance says, “Emmy, you tell people too much. You can’t be telling people what gets to you.” I told him I don’t tell everyone everything, but that people I care about should know certain things so they don’t trigger me on accident, and that it was also important for me to let Jamie know he hadn’t hurt me. He says, “Emmy, how much do you think I know about you?” I reply that I tell him a lot of things but that he doesn’t ask many questions. He says, “I know, because it’s none of my f****ng business. I am not a nice person— I’ll use that shit against you. If you don’t let it show, no one will know. You should write that down.”
He then proceeds to tell me he has his own problems to worry about, and after telling me I shouldn’t let people know my weaknesses and past experiences, he proceeds to tell me several of his. I start thinking about how interesting that is. I realize that his previous statement was probably his way of apologizing for how he acted when I didn’t pull him. He knows I’m tender-hearted and that showing me he was disappointed in me would definitely feel like punishment. Maybe that’s not the case, but I think he felt bad and didn’t know how to say/show that so he put it back on me.
I listen to his story and tell him thanks for sharing, that his stories always impact me. He says, “What do you mean?” I tell him that his stories linger in my mind a lot, and that I’ve in fact written him several letters about the way they affect me but that I haven’t given them all to him. He asks why and I say, “They’re pretty real and sentimental. I don’t know if you’d even want them. I know I already give you a lot.”
He says, “I want them.”
I smile and tell him I think my softness and willingness to tell my story is a big part of why he and I get along so well. He immediately turns and says, “You don’t think it’s because we have a bond?”
It threw me off guard a little bit because he looked concerned and he hadn’t taken any time to formulate that thought. I responded, “We absolutely have a bond. I just think that’s part of it. I think you trust me more because you know I’m not hiding anything. And I definitely don’t hide the fact that I care about you and how you feel.”
He thought about this, nodded, and turned his head back to the front. Then he looked down and smiled. “Yeah, you’re right, Emmy. Dammit, why you have to be so f****ng sentimental?”
He shows he cares, often. It takes patience, tenderness, and a willingness to decode, but man… he really does care.
And he believes me that I care about him.