Noel’s New Life

A week or so ago I wrote about my concerns regarding what my life at KAUST will be like. Basically, I recounted the thoughts that flooded my mind as I lay awake in the middle of the night. I want to slap myself upside the head. My priority and first concern should be what will my son’s life be like. He relies on me and depends on me. It is my job to make sure not just that he is safe and cared for, but also that he is stimulated and challenged, that he develops and grows and becomes all that he can be.

Right now his world is small – home, the local library, the Blockbuster store, a trip to the movies, dinner at a restaurant, pleasant, mundane and routine outings – and always I am close by, translating for him and smoothing his way, as best I can. I need to give some serious thought to what his day to day life will be like, in this new house of wisdom on the shores of the Red Sea. Our hope is that he will be able to attend some classes at the KAUST High School – computer, gym, maybe music or art. We would love for him to be able to go to the library by himself, to browse around the shelves, make his selection and come home. Our dearest wish is for him to have whatever degree of independence and autonomy he is capable of handling.

While I can convince myself that the move will broaden his horizons and essentially force development and change, I worry that the actual community we are moving to is small  and that Noel’s world will be even more limited than it is now. The challenge for me and my husband will be to capitalize on the unique nature of the community – academics are typically tolerant of quirks and eccentricities, and I have found them to be generally kind as well –  so as to foster Noel’s increasing sense of himself as a person. I understand that there is a bowling alley on campus so maybe the three of us will finally learn to bowl. There is a rec center with state of the art gym equipment and personal trainers – the family plan is for the three of us to work out together a couple of times a week. I have been told that there is a horse riding center in Jeddah that offers special lessons to youngsters with special needs. Maybe mother and son will learn to ride horses together. Now that would be kinda cool.

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