11 June, 2005

Oh Cry Me A River...It's just Kindergarten

I am recovering this week. It is official, my little boy is going to kindergarten in the fall. This is a rite of passage.

We are grieving.

First of all, I do think it is fine that he goes on to kindergarten. He is a very big kid. According to the CDC Growth Charts He is the size of a seven year old. Also.. he will be 5 years old in October, not really a question for the cut-off. The hard thing is that I thought we had another year of preschool. When the director of the school asked me to come to the kindergarten transition meeting, I thought it was to show support (I am the PTA president.. scary huh?) Then I realized she wanted us there because we were transitioning. In truth that is what is really happening. Jake doesn't care if he goes to kindergarten. I mean, of course he will miss his teachers and paraeducaters at ECE, but he will probably be thrilled to hang out on a campus with a bunch of "typical" kids and kids who are bigger than he is.

I was very angry when I found out, at what felt like the last minute, that he was not going to have another year of preschool as all of our friends had. Mostly, I realized that I was just not prepared. I apologized later to the director for my curt behavior. I never go into something unprepared. Even when I am unprepared (which I truly often am) I go in knowing what I haven't done. I know what I don't know. So if I haven't written a speech, at least know I will need to wing it (not generally a problem for me to talk now is it?)

This time I was really, really not ready. I hadn't done my research, I didn't know what questions to ask, who the players were. Okay, let's keep in mind that this is transitioning a special-ed kid into a new special-ed classroom, probably staying at the county level. This is actually nothing close to brain surgery, or the quagmire that many of our friends face as they decide which is better, the German School or the French school or should the kid stay in public school? This is just one kid, but I was unprepared.

Mostly I was unprepared for the grieving. I understand intellectually that Jake is a special needs child. He will probably be in a special day class at the county level for years, if not forever. I am intimately aware of his functional delays; and yet, here we are, about to send our child to kindergarten in the fall. Did I think he was going to be "better" by now? Hmmm. I guess somehow, at some point, some small kernel must have formed in my head that he really was going to "snap out of it".

This is an inside joke in our family. Just like "he has a touch of CP"...and well, we haven't come up with one about the autism thing, because maybe hasn't been "officially diagnosed as autistic. We should really get on that, in case we need it; I know that piece of paper is coming soon.

Basically I am crushed. I knew it was coming. I knew that he was not going to walk to the local school for kindergarten. I knew that he would not, as I had, be reading books before his first day, that he would not probably help choose new clothes to wear to school, or help me write his name on his notebook. I knew that.

When you have a child with special needs, you grieve a little bit all of the time, and a lot a bit some of the time. Maybe there are people who are better than I am. Well, I'm sure of that, but I know there are those parents who think their special needs kid is "God's precious gift". I know they are out there. I have met them with their nicey-niceness. Yeah, well, my kid is certainly a gift, but I still think he would be special if he could sing me the alphabet song. And besides, aren't all kids God's precious gift? Or just the ones who wait until they're nearly three to walk?

Sorry. I am sad. That's it. Because we have reached another rite of passage, and once again it is not what we expected. And I wasn't prepared to grieve yet. I thought I had a whole other year to prepare myself for that feeling. And please, don't even tell me about Holland. Please.

I'll be okay, Jake will be fine. This is no big deal. Now taking him to the dentist next week...that is going to be a big deal.
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