August 24, 2011

Smiling Under My Tears

Today was the first day of school! D started second grade, and A began kindergarten. I have been somewhat dreading this day, as I have truly enjoyed having the kids at home this summer. Save for a few days here and there where I almost pulled my hair out in frustration or boredom, we really had a good time. It was nice to have relaxed mornings, not have to worry about schlepping off to yet another therapy appointment, and recharge after a jam-packed school year. And I have been trying to savor each day with my kids, getting all the kisses and snuggles I could get.

Dropping D off at his second grade was a breeze. A few years ago, when he started kindergarten, I cried as I left him. I was sad that he was growing up so fast, that time was flying by, that he was in elementary school. But last year, and now this year, I'm just so proud of the young man he is becoming that it's a pleasure to drop him off. When I picked him up he was happy and said he had a great day. Whew!

My daughter, however, was a different story. She is now in kindergarten. Actually, she is in the first year of a tw0-year kindergarten. I am fortunate that that I live in a school district that offers this. It's a special program for kids who are born June-November, who would otherwise be the youngest kids in their class. For example, if a child is born in October, and started kindergarten, they wouldn't turn 5 until October, and would be in a class with kids who are almost turning 6! This is a great program, and is perfect for kids who need that extra year of social and emotional growth. Since A's birthday is in June, she qualified, which was a relief because I didn't think she was ready for "real" kindergarten yet with all of her delays. So, she'll be at this program for the year, then transfer to our home school next year for her second year of kindergarten (not every school in the district offers this class; our home school is one that doesn't, so she's now at a school different than our home school.)

In contrast to my feelings of sadness when D went to kindergarten two years ago, I was feeling excited for her. Most of my friends whose youngest kids are now in kindergarten were sad, but I was too proud of her to be sad. You see, today was a dream come true for me. Five years ago, when A was in the NICU struggling for her life, this was nothing but a pipe dream. As the years went on, and she had delay after delay after delay, I would hardly dare to hope that one day she would overcome all that she has.

Last spring, when we had her IEP and she tested into a regular, mainstream kindergarten class, I felt like my prayers had been answered. Yes, she will still be receiving all of her services (speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, adapted physical education and deaf/hard-of-hearing therapy) but she is in a regular, non-special ed class. It's all I ever wanted for her.

My biggest challenge this summer has been potty training. Last month I wrote that at age 5, A was still not trained (which is not unusual for kids with issues similar to hers). I'm proud to write that, only a month later, she is now trained! She still has a few accidents here and there, of course, but she is trained. Because of her balance issues, she has trouble getting on and off the toilet by herself, so I put her on at home. Yesterday, we were able to go in to her classroom and let A practice going on the potty all by herself. Luckily, the toilet there is so low that she had no trouble getting on it.

When I dropped her off today, I was in tears as I left. Not because I was sad...but because I was so proud. She's come so far. WE'VE come so far. She walked right in the classroom and didn't look back. When I peeked in the window, she was already sitting on the rug with the other kids. That's when I lost it and burst into tears: because she was one of the kids. I can't explain it in words, but anyone who has ever had a child with special needs will know exactly what I'm trying to say.

I am proud to write that when I picked her up from school, she was still in the same clothes I had sent her in. She had no potty accidents, and told me that she went to the bathroom there twice. I expect an accident here and there, of course, but now I KNOW she can do it! She loved school, and can't wait to go back tomorrow.

Here's hoping for a smooth school year for both my children!


  1. What a lovely post! Your girl is amazing and you should be proud of both her AND yourself!

  2. This is beautiful and I am so happy for you and for your daughter. The part where you said she was on the rug, and just one of the kids, brought tears to my eyes.

  3. im tearing up reading this! so proud of her and happy for you! i will be in this boat next year if haley gets into pre-k. GOD, it will be hard!!! but at the same time, im like you, i will be so proud and happy because we never knew if this day would come. yay for potty training too!!! we are almost there too...its like once she started she really took off and got it. sooo much easier isnt it?!

  4. I didn't want to read this because I knew I would be in tears too! Congratulations! Her success on the first day is due to her amazing determination and what awesome parents she has! Congratulations! Now I need a tissue!

  5. so happy for you all!! Sounds like everyone is going to have a wonderful school year!!

  6. This is the best back-to-school post I've read. I'm proud of YOU, SM!

    I'd like to send my BF back to school, but I'm sure he would have accidents everywhere...

  7. omgosh I'm not a mom & reading your stories of your growing lovely children is really touching! My favorite part, "How far WE'VE come". Awwwwwwwwwwwwww :)


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