January 9, 2010. For the first time, Pat and I take the kids to Butternut, a ski resort in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, about 45 miles from home. While filling out the forms, we make our usual ad hoc decision whether to alert the staff to Peter’s problems or withhold information and hope for the best. This time we tell without hesitation because he’s still wearing a heart monitor. A woman named Annie meets us outside and spends a few minutes learning about our son. We have enrolled both kids in a 3-hour afternoon ski school session. Peter sits on a bench nearby, rolling his head and talking to himself loudly because his boots are stiff and restricting. After quickly surveying the terrain, she assigns a young man with special training to work with Peter, one on one, at no additional cost. She says she wants Peter to work at his own pace, get to know the mountain without the distraction of the other children, and gain the confidence he needs to continue building upon his skills. She tells us that Butternut is committed to making kids like Peter successful. Pat and I can barely believe our ears. We fight, claw, and at times cajole our way through the school system, time and time again, in meager hope of one day hearing these elusive words, words that the public school system seems incapable of expressing. Namely, that Peter needs a hand-tailored approach, that he doesn’t fit within a one-size fits all program, but that he can succeed and blossom given a little innovation. “Now go,” Annie says. She sees we’re in street clothes. “To the lodge, I ask?” A hot cup of cocoa does sound inviting. “Wherever you want. The kids are covered. Just be back by 3:00”. Now this, we didn’t anticipate. We weren’t expected, or even encouraged, to stand watch? “Leave,” she smiles, shooing us away. We look at each other with dismay and then wave goodbye to Sophie and Peter as they flail their way toward the bunny hill amidst the other brightly colored kids. Then we race to the car with abandoned glee to make the most of our 3-hour childless excursion. Our giddiness at this unexpected gift of freedom lasts the entire time and we return to the mountain holding hands, feeling relaxed and buoyant. “This was the best day of my life!” Peter exclaims as he nearly bowls us over in the meeting area. His face is flushed and his eyes are alight. “When can we go again?” Sophie asks, arriving a minute or two later. She is all smiles and can barely wait for our response before she launches into a blow by blow accounting of her afternoon. The break from the kids was terrific, but this is the true gift. Thank you, Annie from Butternut Ski Mountain.