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.
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.
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.
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.