I paced around my dinning room table waiting for my son’s Preschool teacher this morning. She visited once a week to prepare Oliver for real school as part of his IEP plan. We all agreed in January that my son was not ready for out of home services or education. His Teacher was always late, it was part of the ritual.
She arrived in a puff of tardiness and excitement. We caught up for a few minutes while I signed a form. She grabbed some hugs from my children and was gone in a flash. Five minutes and my son’s IEP was over. He is no longer a toddler, no longer receives in home care, and is officially on the track for integrated “regular” school. He starts Preschool sometime this week as soon as all the paperwork is finished.
My son, the one who has never handled transitions well, is giddy with excitement. He dances and signs and can’t wait to go to school. I on the other hand have been dreading every day, because I’m not emotionally ready for this next chapter. I have dreamed of being able to help him with his homework or going to sports events. But I had imagined this all off into the future and am having a difficult time realizing this is my present reality.
My son has an amazing team of professionals, they have empathy, are kind and playful. I have no doubts in the ability of his team or the quality of his education. But I fear letting him go off on his own. Part of it is that I worry who will speak for him as he works on his words. Who will protect him? Will he be safe? I cannot even take him to a local fair without people invading his space or trying to take things from him because they demand his attention. How will he handle all those people moving around him all the time?
This boy has taught me what adversity is. He is adaptable and courageous and mostly untroubled by life. More than likely he will face difficulties in class or with other students and that will teach him how to handle them. His teachers will make mistakes or fail to teach him things and that will teach him other things. He is no longer just my baby to coddle and protect, if I continue to do so I am a detriment to his development. But I really want to just snuggle my baby, keep him safe and close.
I will arrive early to every meeting, sign every form, and try not to cry as I introduce him to his future. This is just the first step of many but I can see the road ahead. My darling first child is a boy and it is time to let go of the baby I’ve held on to. I must encourage his growth away from me and my home. I will always advocate and protect him, but I am no longer the primary teacher in his life. I shall miss our crazy schedule because it was a wonderful thing to be apart of. I shall miss the teachers and watching my son learn. But this isn’t my journey, it is his. Wish me luck as I try not to fall apart over his first days in school.
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