Jilly’s First Day at Preschool

My littlest girl started Special Day Class preschool on Tuesday.  ::sniff::

Special Day Class is basically preschool for special needs kids through the public school district.  Class sizes are small (about 8-9 kids), there is an aide for every 2 children, and the kids get lots of therapy type services during school hours.

My mama heart does not love this.  After all, she is three…just turned three last month…and it is four days a week for three hours.  I do not like my girl being gone so consistently.  She is much too little.

But.

I think it will be good for her.  I think she will like it.  I think she will learn a lot from it.

My prayer is that with some extra coaxing these next two years, she will be able to be in a full inclusion classroom by kindergarten.

My dream?  That Jilly walks right into that Kinder class holding her sister’s hand.

Be still my heart.

Since the school staff can’t be expected to carry her around on their hips all day, Girlfriend is going to have to buck up and quit fighting the walker.  She uses it just fine for her therapists, but plops herself down and yells when it’s me.  Apparently she knows I’m a sucker and will give her what she wants.  Oops.

She has to walk to the bus and off the bus when she gets to school.  Otherwise, they have to get her a wheelchair…which is totally unnecessary since she *can* use her walker…she just doesn’t like to.  (Crawling is so much faster!!!)

Too bad kid.

We all anxiously waited for the bus to come.

My mama nerves threatening to undo me at any moment.

The whole family was there to send her off.

Even Optimus.

I still can’t believe we have a cat.

The Bigs were so excited for her.  And jealous.  Because they wanted to ride on a bus too.

The bus drivers?  Incredible.

I was in awe of how patient she was with Jill and how she coaxed her up those big ol’ steps even when Blondie gave her attitude and tried to insist that she just carry her up.

And oh how I was a stress case.

See my clenched fist?  It was so hard to watch.  I just wanted to scoop up my girl and rush her right back inside the house and lock the door.

Keep looking at my fist.  It might distract from my hot mess hair and general morning train wreck look.

When I was first told that the bus could come pick her up for school, I was a bit indignant.  Judgy even.  “Oh no.  No, no.  She’s much too young to ride a bus.  I’ll take her and pick her up thankyouverymuch.”

And then…when I sat down to look at our new schedule…with Henry starting Kindergarten, Lucy in private preschool, and Jill in Day Class…all in completely far-flung corners of town and some with overlapping start/end times…I realized that if I didn’t let it happen, poor Owen would live his first year of life in his car seat.

Being a parent means making choices that work best for the WHOLE family.  Being a special needs parent makes that task a little more difficult.  I try to be really intentional about balancing Jill’s needs and giving her the best possible opportunities available…while not focusing every resource on her.  We are a team.  We are a family.  Everyone has to give and take.  And while I want to afford my bitty girl every single resource, I try to be careful to not do it at the expense of her siblings.  I never want them to resent having a sister with special needs.

Give and take.

And so it begins.

Ack.

But let. me. tell. you.

Our team of therapists and specialists is UH-MA.ZING.  I cannot emphasize enough how incredible they are.  God has been so faithful to our little family in the people He has provided for us.

Jilly’s physical therapist took it upon herself to go over to the school…on her own time…to make sure that Jilly got to school and off the bus and situated on her first day.  Don’t miss the fact that this sweet woman did this of her own accord, off the clock, without my asking.  She just really wanted to make sure that Jill used her walker properly and that the school staff knew what to do.

I tear up just thinking about it.

But the best part of all?

The therapist called me after she left the school to tell me: “Your girl is a socialite!!!  She was so cute, Jeannett!  Those bus doors opened up and there she was, standing at the top of the stairs waving and saying hi.  And then as she walked to her class, she was just grinning and waving and yelling hi to anyone and everyone.  Other teachers, school staff, kids, and other parents were falling all over themselves for her!  She had that entire campus in the palm of her hand.  It was too funny!!!”

And I was so thankful.  Because at home I was pacing a bit.  And holding back tears.  Unsure of if I had made the right decision.  Sad that I had to send her off on a bus at such a young age.  Sad that she wouldn’t be able to tell me how her first day of school went.  Worried that I wouldn’t know if she liked it or hated it or…well anything really.

And so I watch this big huge bus drive off every morning with my teeny girl in it.  My heart in my throat, my nerves on high alert, and my trust in a good God that is bigger than me and loves my babies infinitely more than I do.

For now, she is loving it and doing fantastic.  I’m not loving it.  Four days a week is a lot. We will see how it goes.  I have no problem reducing the number of days or pulling her entirely if I don’t feel like it is worth the time away.

In the meantime I miss her in the mornings, but I squish her a lot when she gets home.

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jeannett
I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.
jeannett

Comments

  1. 1

    As a mom of a 3 year old little boy who is nonverbal and has autism, I love this post! My heart has been feeling heavy this past week as the start of preschool draws near. My emotions are all over the place but I know in the end we are making a good decision by sending him to preschool 4 days a week. Thank you for sharing your journey and know that it helps me to feel not alone in this process.

  2. 2

    I am in tears! You’re a great mama and I bet you’ll be amazed at how much progress Jill will make!

  3. 3

    such hard decisions! i love what you said about families being a team–give and take. i so agree! and i have no doubts that jilly will rule the world. with lucy on security duty wearing princess gear. hugs to you, friend!

  4. 5

    Oh I sit here and weep of joy for your little girl and for how brave you are to let her go. She looked so happy! I am sure it is tearing your heart apart but the look and smile on her face just radiates happiness. She will do great! What a wonderful thing your district does for special needs children. This will give her the support and encouragement she needs to grow up in this world of ours. This was the the best story of my day and I am so happy I read it. So happy for your Jilly.
    On a side note: the houses in your neighborhood – LOVE!

  5. 6

    I have a special needs brother so I totally understand the give and take of a family
    John rode the bus to school with me, but my mom did pick us up. I will say that the time of the bus is very valuable, its good learning for all the kids and adults involved. And i do recommend being in the traditional classroom as much as possible. In high school my brother couldn’t be, but he still was included in some activities because the kids were used to him thanks to their early school days.
    Katie´s last blog post ..Weekend Moment

  6. 7

    This is such an amazing season for you right now. Thank you for sharing this part of Jilly’s journey. I’ve been a follower for almost a year, so I know the year you both have had. I think you are an incredible mother, a very real portrait of what motherhood looks like. I can’t thank you enough for that.
    I can’t believe that tiny precious girl is riding on the ginormous school bus! But she looks like a pro with that walker! What an exciting time for all of you!
    Absolute Mommy´s last blog post ..Some end of Summer Reading {Tuesday10}

  7. 8

    Jilly’s rocking it! It is so hard to see your kids do things their first time…but this is so good for her! I love that she had everyone at school “in the palm of her hand”…of course she did! She’s like that…with those beautiful blue eyes…and sweet personality! She’ll get you everytime! Hugs my sweet friend…you’ve got lots of firsts coming up…He is there for you!

  8. 9

    Way to go Jill! I remember I was adament that my 3 year old would not ride the bus and the school staff assured me I’d change my mind. They were right. It ended up being easier for me to take him to school and the bus to bring him home. Now riding the bus is one of his favorite parts of the day. Our whole family was out waiting for the bus this morning (some of us in our PJs). My son was so excited about the first day of school that he was still awake at 11:00 last night. Hopefully he doesnt’ fall asleep in class.

  9. 10

    I am tearing up just reading this post. So not looking forward to sending my oldest to Junior Kindergarden in three weeks. Let’s band together to stop time.

  10. 11

    Your post brought tears to my eyes. Not because I have a child with special needs, but because I have been at the other end of that bus ride for more that 20 years. I work with Deaf/HH kiddos and they start school at 3. Several of them have also had other physical/intellectual differences. How hard it must be for mommies to let these precious angels get on that bus, but let me tell you, these babies step up! The confidence they gain by being out in the world “on their own” and DOING IT is immeasurable. At the end of the school year, there will be tears at the bus again. This time, though, from the teachers and workers who have grown to love your Jilly and are weeping at the thought of putting her on the bus for her last ride home. I do it every year :)
    Arlene Cloud´s last blog post ..Nellie at 9 Months

  11. 12
    Carrie R. says:

    My heart was in my throat the whole time I read this post. I think it’s wonderful that Jill is getting this opportunity and I’ll be praying that it helps. She looks so happy. My mama heart is with you. <3

  12. 13

    My heart is so full after reading this sweet post. Your daughter is just the most precious little girl. I had to hold back tears as I read the part about her getting on the bus and seeing the image of you nervously looking on. Indeed, some of the hardest moments for us as mommies…having to step back and let our babies move forward and embrace their own life experiences. It’s humbling and brings great peace though knowing that God is always with them (and us) tenderly guiding and protecting them.

    Sending my prayers and well wishes that she has a blessed school year! :-)

    xo,
    jennifer

  13. 14

    Awesome, just awesome! Looking forward to that picture of the sister’s first day of kindergarten, with big brother showing them the way.

  14. 15

    She is just so dear! And I cannot believe the therapist. Tears and cheers for such an awesome team!! (including you mama!)

  15. 16

    awww… i remember sending my 3 year old on the bus for special needs school. i wanted to follow that bus, especially when the bus driver said to me, “watch out for the big guy on your right, he kicks!” that dude had a mustache! i was such a nervous wreck… poor lainie was crying due to the shift in her normal schedule (she does not like change) and her glasses were all fogged up! it was not a great experience. thus like you said it needed to be done because it was best for the family! i can so sympathize with you on this whole issue! rough!!
    Trish´s last blog post ..Major Cake Sale!

  16. 17

    Oh mama! Look at her and that big grin, though!! So proud of her for being such a social butterfly!!!!!
    (and i love how Lucy’s booty is hanging out. he he)

  17. 18

    I am sitting at my desk with tears in my eyes. You Rock. Jilly ROCKS. My son gets to attenend one of those speical preschools through the school district too. It’s a bit diffrent set up, but they ride the bus too. I feel you heart break just the same. A preschooler on the bus? She will love it, it will be great for her, she will be great!

  18. 19

    These pictures are killing me! She is quite possibly the cutest thing I have ever seen with that walker! I just love it! She is soooo adorable. I love how her therapist said she had everyone at the palm of her hand…get it, girl! :)
    Cassie´s last blog post ..Take Me to Roma

  19. 20

    I totally got teary about this…I would feel exactly the same way! I hope your mama’s heart can have some peace about this eventually – seems like she’s doing great. I am so impressed with your therapist! Hugs to you…I have a feeling that dream of yours will come true and this preschool just might be her ticket into kindergarten with her sister :)
    Kirsten´s last blog post ..Still at it….

  20. 21

    Oh friend- this momma knows. Text, call, email, show up at my door- whatever. I get it. Reading this flashed me back to that time in J’s life. And today he got on the JUNIOR HIGH bus. Talk about freaking out. I literally slept 2 hrs. I’m just sooooo nervous. But I know he can do it. And I’ll keep trying to figure out the special needs momma gig.
    Reading that Jill was the socialite made my heart leap for you. How fun and awesome is that? Takes after her momma.
    love ya!

  21. 22

    I teared up reading this. I am so so happy that Jill is surrounded by such wonderful people.
    Anne´s last blog post ..Dog Seizures and Furniture Throwing

  22. 23

    Wow. God is good. What a week, Jeannett! Of course she’s the star of the campus, how could she not be? But still, it is sweet, sweet news.

    And, wasn’t Optimus just born – a few short months ago? He is Ginormous! Hopefully, it’s all those gophers he’s snagging for you.

  23. 24

    How sweet is she?! As hard as it must be, it seems like it’ll be a good step for her to gain some independence – sounds like she’s confident enough :)

    Holy ginormous cat!!
    Lissa´s last blog post ..Happy 3rd Birthday William!

  24. 25
    Nancy Rogers says:

    Yes I have a huge lump in my throat. Every mommy guesses how tough it must be to do what you are doing every day. Be encouraged that Jilly is confident. She is confident because she is secure in the love she has known her whole life from all of you. She doesn’t feel at a disadvantage at all! Good job Jeanett and family!

  25. 26

    She looks so ready for this new season of life! I share your anxiety over the whole new school / new bus thing! My son has autism and was in SDC for 3 years for preschool—awesome, awesome, awesome. But then he was MAINSTREAMED (ACH!!!) for Kindergarten (he still has lots of support at school) and I was a complete mess for the month prior to school starting. A cry yourself to sleep kind of mess, as a matter of fact. Not even one bit pretty! Anyhow, he is ending his second week of K tomorrow and is doing REALLY well. Praise God! These special kids can RISE to the occasion and flourish. My little guy is proof! Jilly will be just fine. She’s got you and a stellar team on her side…how can she NOT be fine?

  26. 27

    I have been waiting for this post with baited breath, and it did not disappoint. I hit the door and Brian said, “Have you seen the blog?” Tears, smiles, relief, all at the same time. You and Andy are great parents and you are the perfect set God picked out for our Jillian. God is good. All the time.

  27. 28

    Reading your post brought tears to my eyes! Thank you for sharing.

  28. 29

    Jeannett, you are a great momma & that girl of yours is lucky to have you & vice versa! I love the photos & how this huge milestone is documented by you. She will do amazingly & your sacrifice, as a momma wanting her little bear cubs right there at all times, is such a great gift you are giving her, as a teacher, I know how much this will help her get to that dream you have of her walking into kindergarten hand & hand with her sister! All three of my kiddos will be in school this year, Tucker in prek five days a week & the girls two days and they are all excited as well. Jilly is such a super star!
    Heather @ Life as we know it…´s last blog post ..Bed, pretzels, m&m’s . . . oh my!

  29. 30

    jeannett! this is wonderful. love your mama heart. so encouraged by you.
    sounds like elijah has a similar school(praise jesus!!). he starts back next week. i am thrilled and terrified. he did excellent there when he started in march. so much progress. just so much.
    praying for your sweet jilly. she will be a champion, i know.
    press on! love you! xo
    hannah singer´s last blog post ..kiss the sky {featured sponsor & giveaway}

  30. 31

    tears. the pic of jilly climbing onto the bus. tears! and hearing how her day went. tears. gah! i don’t know if i could’ve watched her climb up those stairs as her mama. but i did get a chuckle at what i think are lucy undies hanging out of her jammie bottoms waiting for the bus to come! classy girl ;)
    lindsey – the pleated poppy´s last blog post ..anchors away!

  31. 32

    How amazing! And that bus drive and therapist sound so wonderful. I know the parents of the special needs kid I care for have struggled finding great people and have struggled with the school too. I know it must be hard to watch her go off to school, but it sounds like everyone is looking out for her!

  32. 33

    I’m crying tears of joy for you as I read your post!! How wonderful and bittersweet for you. I’m sure this is a moment you have been dreaming about and dreading all at the same time. How very precious and I LOVE your school bus driver too. As a Speech Language Pathologist who works with special needs children I LOVE seeing kids succeed and reach major milestones like this. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate them and how far they have come! This is the start to something wonderful mama and you made it happen.
    Mindi´s last blog post ..Noah: First Steps at 16 Months

  33. 34

    SO sweet. I had tears in my eyes as I read this, what a big girl she is!

  34. 35

    How adorable is she?!?! So cute. Thank you for sharing your honesty with all of us! I hope little miss socialite is enjoying school!
    Lori´s last blog post ..friday faves

  35. 36

    Oh, my. I bawled my eyes out reading this post. So sweet, Jilly! She looks so proud in the first several pictures!
    Sarah´s last blog post ..Kindergarten is happening

  36. 37

    Saying extra prayers for you in this time of transition. Those pics are so sweet. :)
    Kerry @ Made For Real´s last blog post ..Pencil Sunburst

  37. 38

    What a great post! I’m so proud of her & love following her story. I teach an early childhood class, & it’s amazing how much progress kids make during the preschool years. The kids that come in my room at 3 are SO different when they leave for K. It’s one of the reasons I love teaching this age! She will be GREAT!!! I just wish she could be in my class ’cause she sounds like loads of fun . I {puffy heart} the spunky ones :-)
    Jennifer B´s last blog post ..Insta Friday on a Saturday

  38. 39

    Oh my gosh, I’m totally crying. I’m such a nerd! I remember what a BIG deal this was. And I love that she loves it. She is going to rock that preschool. She’s awesome–and so are you.