t was a beautiful sunny in early February and snow was reluctantly retreating from sun-kissed surfaces. Happy boy Vito had been spending a couple of hours in his new kindergarten, and I was busily approaching the colorful building. I paid no attention to the beautiful day or the cheerful colors because I had a hundred things on my mind. Work, work, and more work. Frustrated and forever dissatisfied, always hungry for success. Yes, that would sum it up nicely today. Back then, to myself, I was someone who enjoys his job, who is ambitious and does great things. Time changes your perspective and it does so quite quickly.
I arrived to the kindergarten where I was met by the nice gentleman, the kindergarten psychologist. We’d met before and had had a chance to briefly discuss Vito’s problems. I was glad I ran into him so that I could jump on him with a gleeful “Told you so!”, implying that Vito had adjusted to the kindergarten just fine. My triumphant stance was greeted with a compassionate smile and a friendly handshake. This nice gentleman had no need to defend himself or fight my arguments. He told me I could see for myself how Vito behaved in the kindergarten by taking a look through the window of his kindergarten group room- This group was not actually kids his age, but a group of younger children, where he was placed so he could fit in more easily.
It was all but a normal look through the window. This was an insight into the world I constantly tried to ignore. . An insight into something that could not happen to me. Not me, not my Vito. Why would it happen? Why us? But that was also a moment when all the forces fighting against accepting his state disappeared. My beautiful little bear was a lot taller than his little peers. The whole group had a common spirit and was dedicated to functional activities. My angel was in his own world. . He passed by the kids like they were trees in a forest. He was focused on an object and accidentally knocked down a little child, unaware of his surroundings. He played with his little piece of ribbon, far from everyone else. He didn’t look happy and he wasn’t smiling. He was… nothing. Undefined, absent. Different. Special. He ran through the room, occasionally letting out noises, each time attracting confused looks by his peers. Some of them brought him toys, but he didn’t take notice. He was licking the window.
I was known as a tough guy people would often come to for level-headed support. Crying wasn’t my thing; I handled my issues in a different way. But this one I could not handle. Tears began rolling down my cheeks as I stood before the window to that world. I broke down. I had to get some air. I sat down on a bench in front of the kindergarten and covered my face. I didn’t care that I was crying like a baby. I no longer saw the snow, the sun, my business problems. I saw only him. My son, caught in the web of a world I constantly claimed didn’t exist. I felt weaker than ever before. I felt weaker than ever before. Images flashed before my eyes – Vito as a baby, his restless nights and days. I felt guilty I saw only short flashes. I hadn’t been there for him. And now he’s waiting for me inside, in a place he doesn’t belong. In a place that improved my image as a father, a delusion that led me to believe my Vito was fine, too. He wasn’t fine. Not at all.
With my feet heavy, I returned to the kindergarten. . I stood at the door silently and, gesturing, asked that they bring me Vito. e saw me and, like countless times before, came to me emotionless.
I was putting on his shoes and couldn’t look him in the eye. I kissed his hair and said: “Forgive me, my son.” I took him into my arms and held him tightly. I felt I needed him at least as much as he needed me. Even though he couldn’t display any emotions, he saw something different on my face. A tear. He touched it with his finger and it disappeared. He observed his wet little finger. I observed it as well. That tear is gone and I’ll never know what was in it. A moment goes by, and so does an eternity. I didn’t want not to know anymore. I want to know, I want to live and I want to feel. I knew it at that moment, but I had no strength..
Excerpt from I See You