While my son splashed through his first day with the local Special Olympics swim team, I scanned the faces surrounding the steamy caldron of our neighborhood swimming pool. I recognized a woman in the bleachers, unsure of how I knew her until her daughter slid gracefully out of the water and approached me with a slightly awkward gait.
“You’re Andrew’s mom. You drive a red Toyota van,” she said, shaking huge droplets of water onto the pool deck.
I stared at her, remembering a little girl with brown hair and an intense smile, a girl who now lived in a woman’s body. “I am! I’m so happy to see you, Sarah! It’s been years,” I said, as she turned on her heels and walked away. Her mom glanced up from her phone and I waved as the two of them headed to the locker room.
Sarah is 23 years old and autistic. So is my son, Andrew. They were in the same classroom in the first grade, crisscrossing paths through elementary school. I hadn’t seen Sarah in 12 years, yet she recalled my red Toyota minivan from a first-grade field trip.
After practice that day, I lingered in the lobby with the other parents. Like me, their kids are grown but parenting remains a full-time job. We are a motley tribe of seasoned parents trying to figure out the best way to transition our kids from childhood into adulthood.