The man was flabbergasted when he heard the story. His son couldn’t stop crying as he explained why he was missing his first day of school.
The man listened carefully, thinking this was a targeted attack.
But everything would make sense as soon as he saw what was written on his son’s shirt.
He took a deep breath in a bit to calm the anger bubbling inside him before asking his son to wipe his tears. He knew how much the boy had been looking forward to this day.
After all, this was his first day of school, and he’d been so stoked that he’d barely slept through the night.
But now, his dream of going to school alongside his friends was slipping away from his fingers. The dad knew he had to step in.
His Favorite Shirt
Taking an hour away from work, he walked out of his home study with a stern look on his face. His son looked up at him hopefully, knowing the bus driver wouldn’t get away with what he’d done.
“Should I change the shirt?” he asked in a low voice, and his dad went down on one knee.
“Is this still your favorite shirt?” he asked, and when the boy nodded, he said, “Don’t take it off. Let’s go teach this guy a lesson.” If only he knew what he was about to walk into.
But Gabe Matthews taking time off his busy schedule wasn’t part of the plan that day. He’d been swamped at work all month, to a point where he’d had to let his son board the bus for his first day of school.
Gabe had hated the extent that his work had pulled him away from his family life.
But as a single dad with a child to raise and care for, he couldn’t complain. He never thought it would all lead to this.
A Bond Like No Other
The Connecticut native had always loved his son to the moon and back. Little Danny was his world, and Gabe would have given anything to see him smile.
Each time they were together, the dad would take him up in his arms and swing him around, calling him the best gift life had given him.
This was because of one crucial reason.
His Only Child
You see, Danny was Gabe’s first and only child. His late wife, Anna, had been pregnant with twins but had lost Danny’s twin and her own life during childbirth.
To say that Gabe was distraught was an understatement. He grieved dearly for his wife and daughter and took time from everything to say goodbye.
But he was a dad now, with a son who needed his attention and love. He’d give anything to keep him safe.
Find Your Groove
Gabe and Danny started life as father and son, and they made the best of it for years. The journey was difficult for both of them, with Gabe having to learn how to be a single parent without any preparation and Danny growing up without a mom.
Regardless, the two grew into their roles, forming a close bond that nothing could break. As Danny grew up, Gabe enrolled him in the nearest preschool around.
It would be soon that the boy graduated to the next level.
Going To School
Gabe enrolled Danny in a preschool near his home. As a working dad, he’d take Danny to school every morning and pick him up in the afternoon.
Before they knew it, Danny had cleared preschool and was ready for elementary school.
The little boy was more than excited to continue with his education. Alongside two of his best friends, who also came from the same neighborhood as him, Danny couldn’t wait to join elementary school. He had no clue how terrible his first day would be.
Gabe had spent weeks searching for the perfect elementary school for his son well before Danny cleared preschool. The dad was sad to discover that the nearest school was a little out of town.
Although he didn’t mind taking Danny to school every day, he feared that the daily commute would collide with his morning work routine.
Would Danny be open to taking the school bus?
A Temporary Fix
Gabe had a long talk with Danny, explaining that he wouldn’t be able to drive Danny to school in the morning as usual because of work.
He promised taking the bus would only be temporary until he figured out a better solution.
Ever understanding, Danny agreed to take the bus. He seemed happy with the decision, saying most of his friends were taking the bus anyway. To him, this was a win. But it would soon end in tears.
The day it happened started as a special one for Gabe and Danny. The two woke up early, with Gabe preparing breakfast while working from home and Danny picking out his favorite clothes.
After breakfast, Gabe walked Danny to his neighbor’s house, where he’d leave for school with two of his best friends, who were also starting elementary school.
The dad thought his son was safe when, in reality, he wasn’t.
Gabe should have taken a few minutes to look at his son’s shirt. But Monday mornings were usually the worst for him. As a work-from-home dad in an international company, he was always working in the wee hours of the morning.
Most of his co-workers were in different parts of the world, necessitating him to get up early for meetings with them.
That day, he juggled a client meeting, making breakfast, and helping Danny prepare. He had no time to read what the boy’s shirt said.
Time For School
Danny got ready with his backpack and jacket. With a bright smile, he finished his plate of hash browns, eggs, bacon, and juice and asked his dad to walk him out.
A proud dad, Gabe obliged, taking him to their neighbor’s house so Danny could walk to the bus stop with his friends.
Since the bus stop was just a few meters away, Gabe had no issue letting his son walk. If anything went wrong, all Danny would have to do was call out, and Gabe would be there in the blink of an eye.
The dad watched his son converge with his two best friends. They waved goodbye and walked to the bus stop. Gabe returned to the house, prouder than he’d ever been.
He went straight to his bedroom and took his late wife’s photo, which he usually propped beside his bed. “His first day, Anna,” he whispered, his eyes growing wet.
In his son, he always saw Ana, her smile and determination. “I am stupidly proud of him. I know you are, too.”
Back To Work
With Danny away, Gabe returned to work. He still needed to make sure he closed the meeting at hand.
His company was looking to bring in a new client, and it fell to him to convince the client that the company was the best out there.
But he wasn’t on the computer for thirty minutes before he heard sobbing outside his door. What was going on?
Gabe hurried to investigate the disturbance. He could tell whoever was sobbing was a child. His mind insisted it was Danny, but that didn’t make sense.
Danny had already left for his first day of school. Gabe had watched as he and his two friends got into the large yellow bus.
The little boy had even waved goodbye before the bus growled into life and drove off. So, who was at Gabe’s door?
The dad opened the door, and to his surprise, little Danny rushed and hugged him. His eyes were puffy from crying, and he couldn’t stop sniffling.
“What is it, bud?” a concerned Gabe asked. He knew his son to be strong-willed. He’d rarely seen the boy cry and was always alarmed whenever he found him in tears.
What was so terrible that Danny would miss out on his first day of school and run back home crying?
Where’s The Bus?
Gabe couldn’t tell. He looked around the neighborhood, thinking the bus must’ve been waiting for his son. But he couldn’t see it anywhere.
With furrowed brows, he went on one knee and asked, “What’s wrong, Danny? Are you hurt?” His son shook his head, looking away.
“Did you forget something in the house?” Gabe asked, and Danny shook his head again. “Then what is it?”
The Bus Driver
Through his sobs, Danny managed to utter a few words. “D-dad, the bus…the bus driver…” he stuttered, struggling to articulate what had happened.
Gabe’s concern deepened. He’d never liked seeing his son hurting, no matter the cause.
He gently wiped away his son’s tears and asked, “Tell me, Danny, what did the bus driver do?”
He Kicked Me Out
Danny hesitated for a moment, struggling to find the right words.
His lower lip trembled as he finally managed to speak, “Daddy, the bus driver… he kicked me off the bus.” His voice was quivering, and fresh tears welled up in his eyes.
Gabe’s heart sank as he tried to comprehend what his son had just said. He held Danny closer and asked gently, “Why, Danny? Why would he do that?”
Danny breathed deeply and replied, “It’s because of my shirt, Daddy.” Gabe was puzzled. He looked down at his son’s shirt, trying to figure out what could be so offensive about it.
He’d bought Danny that shirt a few months ago at the boy’s request. Danny adored everything about it.
From its bright blue color to the bold letters and faces on it, he loved it. But what was so bad about it that the bus driver would see it fit to chase Danny away because of it?
Objectivity Is Key
The dad decided to put his emotions aside for now to look at the matter objectively.
There must have been something wrong with the shirt for the driver to act the way he did. Everything happens for a reason, he usually told himself.
On the front of Danny’s shirt was the face of a child dressed in a superhero costume, smiling happily, flying across the sky. Gabe’s confusion deepened. Was this the reason his son had been kicked out of the bus?
It’s Not The Picture
“Did he do it because of the picture on it?” Gabe asked, and Danny shook his head. “It was because of the words,” he said meekly, and his dad formed a fist.
He read the words in question slowly, words he’d read over a hundred times now.
How could a message promoting acceptance and understanding be a reason for his son to be kicked off the bus?
With a heavy heart, Gabe realized it must have been an act of discrimination, ignorance, or even cruelty. In bold letters, Danny’s shirt said, “Autism is my superpower.” Clearly, the words were why the driver kicked him out of the bus.
Gabe hugged him tightly and said, “You did nothing wrong, Danny.” Danny was on the autism spectrum. “You should never be ashamed of who you are or what you wear. We’re going to get to the bottom of this.” Gabe decided to take Danny back to school himself.
He called the school’s administration to inform them about the situation and express his concern.
At The School
As Gabe and Danny arrived at the school, they were met by the principal, Mrs. Anderson. She had a sympathetic look on her face as she approached them. “Mr. Matthews,
I’m terribly sorry for what happened to Danny. We take such incidents very seriously here,” she assured him.
Gabe nodded, his eyes never leaving Danny’s anxious face. “Thank you, Mrs. Anderson. We just want to understand why he was kicked off the bus.”
The School Takes Over
The principal promised to investigate the matter immediately and assured Gabe that it would be resolved. She asked Danny to join his classmates in the school’s office while they investigated. Gabe watched his son walk away, a mixture of pride for Danny’s bravery and anger towards the bus driver brewing inside him.
Gabe and Mrs. Anderson reviewed the security footage from the school’s cameras, hoping to gain insight into the incident. What they saw left them speechless.
The footage clearly showed the bus driver, Mr. Johnson, stopping the bus just after picking up Danny and his friends. He got out of his seat and approached Danny, gesturing for him to leave the bus.
In disbelief, Gabe asked, “Did he say or do anything to explain why he did this?” Mrs. Anderson shook her head. “No, Mr. Matthews, there doesn’t appear to be any justification for his actions. It’s an entirely unjust and unacceptable situation.”
The school immediately suspended Mr. Johnson pending a thorough investigation.
Gabe couldn’t believe the bus driver’s behavior, and neither could the school administration. They were appalled by the discrimination displayed against a child on the spectrum.
Meanwhile, Danny had been reunited with his two friends, who were just as shocked and upset by what had transpired. With their parents’ support, the three friends started a small campaign in the school to raise awareness about autism and promote tolerance and acceptance.
News of the incident quickly spread through the school community, and parents and students rallied behind Danny and his friends.
They organized a “Superpower Day” where everyone, including teachers, wore shirts with supportive messages about autism. It was a powerful display of unity and a clear message that discrimination would not be tolerated.
A Wholesome Community
The support overwhelmed Gabe, who had initially felt alone and helpless in the face of his son’s mistreatment. He realized they were part of a loving and caring community that would stand up for what was right.
As the days passed, the school’s investigation revealed that Mr. Johnson had a history of discriminatory behavior and had been reprimanded before.
The school district decided to terminate his employment, sending a strong message that such actions would not be tolerated.
Gabe felt vindicated, knowing that justice was served for his son and that Danny’s experience had led to positive change within the school district. The incident also reinforced the bond between Gabe and Danny, making them even stronger as father and son.
On the morning of his second attempt on the first day of school, Danny proudly wore the same “Autism is my superpower” shirt. This time, there was no discrimination, no mistreatment. As he boarded the bus, he was greeted with smiles and words of encouragement from both the driver and his fellow students.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.