To his delight, Robby will not be going to school today. Although we try to avoid his being absent, I think that we have a valid excuse: he has been invited to a party at the Walter Reed rehab facility!
There was no doubt that we were going to accept when the invitation was offered. Yes, school is important; however, this is a life opportunity that cannot be learned in a classroom. His teachers were understanding about the absence, and his classmates have drawn pictures and cards for Robby to distribute.
During the past few days Scott and I have been prepping Robby for this experience. We've tried to convey that although they are hurt and look different, he shouldn't be afraid because they are still people who deserve respect and kindness. Still, I worry that he is going to see physical scars and wounds that may be frightening in the eyes of a five year old. Can a child ever be prepared to witness such physical and emotional pain?
We told Robby that he was invited because he is a happy boy who is good at cheering people up. I think he is up for the task! He has been practicing his holiday songs and his Nutcracker inspired cowboy dance all weekend. Seeing a little boy in cowboy boots enthusiastically perform a plié immediately followed by a modified two-step shuffle is sure to crack more than a few smiles.
Per Robby's request, we spent much of the weekend baking cookies for him to give out to his "new hospital friends." He genuinely seems excited for the visit, and I think he is prepared. Or, at least he is as prepared as possible. Wish us luck!