Friday, August 29, 2008

Pre School

My husband and I try to remain equally present in both of our children's lives. We alternate turns at doctor's appointments, teachers meetings, and therapy sessions whenever work keeps us both from being there together, and we trade off with the kids, in our quest to keep things as balanced as we can.

I may not be all that great at balance, truth be told. (As if you couldn't tell.)

Earlier this week I found myself in a strange place -- at the orientation for Peaches' toddler program. Yes, my two-year-old starts school this coming Wednesday. I know I mention this a lot, but I work at the school my kids attend. I work there, and yet somehow it never really hit me that my daughter would officially become a student -- move from the faculty childcare center to an actual classroom -- until I found myself sitting across from her teachers, my friends, and listening with the other incoming parents to them talk about the curriculum. Curriculum. I heard them announce that the children need to come with backpacks and my mind temporarily spun into another orbit, sought to recalibrate for the sudden gravitational shift. I looked at my name tag for a moment, and it helped me catch my bearings, help me assimilate the knowledge that I sat in that meeting as Mother of Peaches, new student, and I began smiling thinking with some excitement of back to school shopping for a fancy new pink backpack.

Not long after I started to breathe normally again, the president of the parent association gave her welcome. This is where I lost all hope of balance. After describing her role as parent association president, she announced that she had once been the classmate of one of the toddler moms in the room, and that the two of them met for the first time when they were two years old. A dad in the room spoke up that he is an alum. Everyone began to get very Kumbaya on the topic of embarking on lifelong relationships, and how our kids would start together in the sand box, and then someday attend one another's weddings.

I couldn't believe it when I started to weep.

No, I didn't get swept away by the presentation or in the beauty of the journey Peaches would begin in a matter of days, though I know that is probably what I should have done. Instead, as I'm sure you can guess, my involuntary reaction had to do with what my rooster will miss. My rooster will not graduate from this school. We are lucky to have him there one more year until he is five and public school can offer him full day classrooms that can meet his special needs. The parents in his class and I will not sit next to each other at Winter Sings and Open Houses and Secondary Schools and reminisce about quickly time passed since our kids rode trikes and sang Wheels on the Bus together. And that isn't the end of the world. The rooster will find a right place somewhere, somehow, and form connections of his own - I have to believe that. And I can't let every typical event for Peaches turn into a grievathon for my rooster. But in that moment, what should have been Peaches' celebratory moment of entering school, I fell once again into the abyss of fear for what this year will bring for my Rooster, just one classroom away, but worlds apart. He will have outstanding teachers again this year, a rich curriculum, and a cool Diego backpack, he will be supported and nurtured and loved, but we are planning this year as the end of his journey at this school for typical students, not the beginning. He did not move on with the kids he started with last year, but is repeating the three-year-old program, a head taller than some of his new classmates, yet teased by them because he still wears diapers, and when this year ends, he will say goodbye to his current class, he will say goodbye to the school he shares with his sister and me as our second home. Right now I have no idea where he will go next, but what I hope for most of all is a place where he can learn how to be more comfortable in his own skin.

A colleague and friend sat next to me during orientation; she is also the mother of Peaches' friend and classmate. She looked at me in horror when my eyes welled up, and I'm sure she thought I'd become overly sentimental. "Are you crying?" she asked. I think I nodded. "The rooster," I whispered. She looked at me, got my meaning, and said, "But you need to be happy for Peaches."
This is very good advice. It's true. I know it. I am happy for Peaches. We bought that Tinkerbell backpack yesterday, and we celebrated, just Peaches and me.

But I also can't seem to help worrying about when she might leave her big brother behind, and how he will feel when he understands that we can't all be together anymore.


Niksmom said...

You know, for all we go through w/Nik, I have the luxury of not having to divide my attention, my energy. Such a balance you must have to try to achieve when, as you said, the gravity keeps shifting!

Yes, Peaches needs and deserves your celebrating her milestones and new adventures as much as Rooster does. And for Rooster? I know it looks and feels so very bleak right now but remember it's just that --NOW. Time and support (and, sometimes, the RIGHT meds) can change so much. Don't walk down tha lonely, ugly road of wondering or thinking you could possibly *know* what Rooster's future will hold. None of us can know that. Sure, you know what his very immediate future may look like but even that can change quickly.

Keep breathing and learn to celebrate every little success for both your kids. It will sustain you through the dark times; I promise. xo

Christine said...

Ditto what Niksmom said. The future is not yet written. Be present in the now, if you are able. Your kids deserve it and so do you!!!


redheadmomma said...

I totally understand you. Every cool & wonderful thing that happens to Maya is a little painful for me. It's like by shining the light on something, I can clearly see the dark side of it as well - the dark side being that Noah will never get this opportunity to do this or that. And it will only get bigger as they grow.

I remember when I went to my first parent/teacher conference for Maya's preschool. She told me that Maya was doing perfect, and she was well-behaved, and I just started to weep. I never had a meeting such as this. My experience has been IEPs and behavior challenges up the wazoo. I explained that I was just so grateful at hearing this. That it meant so much more to me than some mom who had typical children.

That's why Noah & the Rooster are such gifts: they keep us in sharp focus as to what is important. Sometimes the focus is so sharp that it hurts us, but we look at the world so differently, with so much more depth, than most other people. And that is such a gift.