They’re different. Nonverbal, but deadly smart. They know exactly what is going on, often; and how to work the system. They are children; not fragile dolls. And smart. Give an inch, they take a mile.

They are easily upset. I insist on the sensory swing. Back and forth. Back and forth. They calm. Sanity restored. No more newborn crying. Quiet. Blessed quiet.

Nonverbal. I try too hard on an assignment. I get bit. Hard. Huge bruise. After that, I was his favorite. He’d listen to me, often; he knew I was listening. You can communicate without words.

“Get over yourself,” is my basic method for others. They are not the center of the universe. They are still children. Math games. Anything new I can teach them. Soaked up. But not the center of the universe.

Pepper. The darn pepper in the soup on Cooking Day. Fast fingers. Drat. But a good story. “Remember when?”

My little one. Sometimes I wondered if I had a kid, would it look like him? He used to curl up in my lap and fall asleep. Or I’d carry him, fast asleep, to assemblies. My little terror who gave me treasures. Mud. Darn mud. That too. He was so pleased with himself.

VBS. I was maybe seventeen. There was a boy who would not, could not sit still. I took his hand and tapped his palm, and he calmed. The other leader was a paraeducator. She said I was a natural, and that that was a taught technique.

This is who I am. I miss my kids (but often don’t. It’s hard to explain. I know what it’s like to be spit in the face at point blank range).