Good old Frederick Douglass said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” I will never argue the wisdom of those words. Adversity strengthens us, shapes us, prepares us for the future. We see what we are truly made of in our most humbling moments.

But to watch your 9-year-old go through it isn’t always a great deal of fun.

It’s been a tough year for George. Change unnerves him. He’s comfortable with routine, with familiarity, with predictability. This year has provided very little of that for him.

I know that ultimately, this experience of moving, of meeting new people, of making new friends, of learning how to navigate a new existence will make him a better person.

But he’s still a little person right now. And when he hurts, it breaks my heart.

I interviewed for a job this week. When I tucked him in last night, he whispered, “Please don’t take the job if they give it to you, Mom. I’m afraid I’ll never see you again.” This from the boy who stopped kissing me on the lips three years ago.

But if, indeed, I am offered and accept the job, he’ll be okay. We’ll all be okay. In fact, we’ll probably all be better.

Just because we say so.

Today George went on a field trip to Jackson. As the newest member of the PEAK program, he boarded a charter bus with a gazillion other kids to see “Annie” and to attend an amphibian show at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science.

My boy set his own alarm and got up at 5:00 AM to get ready. He brushed his teeth without any threats from me. He brushed his teeth. ON HIS OWN. This was a big day, indeed.

He got to bring his iTouch on the bus, got to sit by his buddy, Ty, had a lunch box filled with peanut butter crackers.

I could feel the excitement emanating from his little body as he raced around the house this morning. I think the only thing that might have made his life more complete would have been a lifetime supply of LEGOs.

He was happy. Genuinely happy.

A red-headed orphan, four hours on a bus, and some frogs. We’ll take it.

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