The rectangular piece of paper shivered in Amy’s hand in the cold breeze. She looked at Aidan. He was almost nodding off to sleep in his car seat. She made sure that he is securely buckled up before starting the ignition.

While driving towards the shop to buy Aidan’s favourite lasagne, Amy’s mind was completely occupied by the words that seemed to dance on the note, that Aidan’s teacher put in his folder for her.

It read, what she always dreaded since her son Aidan started going to pre-school. She tried to ignore all the early warnings from his childminder, convincing herself time and again that, every child needs his own time to reach the so-called milestone. But that was when he was two years old. Now at four, his pre-school carer has warned again that he seems to have severe difficulty in differentiating even between a YES and a NO.

Not just that he seems to have a blank look in his face and doesn’t seem to answer the difference in HOW, WHAT, WHY, WHEN asked. All he did was repeating the question, under his breath, that she asked him.

Even in that 4 deg C, Amy started sweating. He is the only purpose of her living, since Tom’s death. Before his first birthday, his dad Tom passed away in a motor accident. After that Amy decided to remain single as she was sure, that no one can take Tom’s place in their life.

When her well-wishers and parents started worrying about her silent, single life with Aidan she moved out from the village to the city where she was lucky enough to find a job as an accountant in a small firm, which helped her pay rent to a studio flat for both of them.

The only thing she regretted was that her job demanded Aidan to be away from her more than eight hrs a day and when she came back tired, he ran up to her like and gave her a tight hug as if it had been ages since he saw her lately.

That squeezy tight hug always reminded her of the pangs that she felt in her heart when she first heard about Tom’s demise. Aidan had the brown eyes of Tom and the unruly golden hair of hers.

And now, after all these years even after her wishing against wishes, that her Aidan is just a ‘late-bloomer’ the note says that the teacher suspects severe missing skills in him that are normally seen in a four-year-old.

In short, the meeting was just for her consent to do an early childhood assessment on her son. An assessment on his IQ, his motor skills, his language skills, his little attention-span, his accident-prone nature, his dreamy nature etc. which when analysed by experts can give critical information about a child’s development and growth;

The form was a twelve-page booklet, and while Aidan played with the toys in the class, his teacher wrote about his lack of social skills, assertiveness and taking turns along with his complete difficulty in understanding her instructions.

She was telling that Aidan is just trying to fit in by repeating words and sentences his teacher used without understanding their meaning. He couldn’t even tell his own name or age. And every other four-year-old could do so.

Amy almost knew what was coming up, next he will be assessed by psychologists, tested for his IQ and will be given a report stating him as a ‘special need child’. She glanced at him playing with action figures in the toy basket. Superman was his all-time hero. But was Superman a ‘special need child’ when he was four?

Amy shook her face as if to get the thoughts out of her mind. Seeing her upset face, the teacher asked, if everything was alright with her. She said yes because she simply did not want to be weak.

The teacher continued to fill the form with things she has never known about her Aidan

-that he cannot control his potty

-that he falls asleep, while during an activity.

-that he is just a human parrot and doesn’t understand anything.

Amy closed her eyes. Let her write. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe I knew about it a bit earlier. Maybe I gave heed to early warnings and signs… Maybe … Maybe Tom was sitting there just near to hug her and to rub her back and say “Everything will be alright. He will be fine, soon.”

– Swathi Sasidharan

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