My son Chaim Boruch is a second-grade student at the local public school, which offers an excellent special-needs program. He and his fellow classmates, who are all nonverbal, are learning to communicate through various devices and the PECS system. At appropriate times these special children have the wonderful opportunity to integrate into the typical K-8 classes, where they can experience how a classroom and its students typically function.Her voice was infused with care and concern and tough love

Today I received a voicemail from Chaim Boruch’s teacher. Her voice was infused with care and concern and tough love. Chaim Boruch had refused to listen to instructions this morning, and proceeded to have a tantrum in class. He was asked to please exhibit proper behavior and comply with directions, or he would not have the opportunity to participate in the remaining activities of the day. Unfortunately, he chose to continue to whine and disregard his teacher’s directives, and consequently he remained in the classroom while others enjoyed a fun music program in the typical second-grade class, a real privilege!

My husband walked in the door as I finished listening to this message. A huge smile swept across my face, and I almost giggled with delight. “Guess what?” I said, half-smirking.

“What?” my husband asked, truly curious about my disposition.

“Chaim Boruch got into trouble at school . . . and I am so proud of him!” I replied triumphantly, as if my child had won a most prestigious award!

I truly was proud. And I cherished that award.I was so proud of this “normalcy”

I was so proud of this “normalcy,” when most of our moments are anything but typical and normal. I was proud that his behavior was in fact “normal” for a seven-year-old who did not care to listen or comply. I was proud that he held his own ground and wasn’t swayed by what everyone else was doing, and that his little personality was shining through, despite the consequences he would face. I was grateful to his teacher and classroom aides, who lovingly guided Chaim Boruch to face and accept the results of his actions. I was grateful for this moment in time, when what I was dealing with was “normal.”

Plain and simple. Normal.

Of course, with a more serious tone, I spoke to Chaim Boruch and shared my disappointment in his behavior and my hope that in the future he would make better choices.

He just smiled. He knew.

Inside my heart I will always hold dear the award we received today. An award for Chaim Boruch, who reached this moment of normalcy that every child must reach—the moment when he learns that his actions bear consequences. And an award for myself, for accepting and cherishing this moment—the moment when my child internalizes the values I have strived to instill in him.