4C, 4 Momma, 4D, 4A, and 4B

4C, 4 Momma, 4D, 4A, and 4B
Most of the Four me (and you) fam

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

First day of preschool, the way I had originally dreamed

4C, our exuberant, enthusiastic girl, started 4 y/o preschool this week. She had been asking every day for a month when she would get to start, asking for homework when her older siblings did theirs and pestering with the kind of ansty anticipation that only a child in need of school can.

Our kids do preschool at a local church, which is of a denomination not our own. Years ago, I would have SWORN to you that no child of mine would ever step foot in a religious school of any kind, but life with a child on the spectrum (or any child, for that matter) has a way of of chilling your ass out about the little stuff. 

About five years ago, we made an ill-fated choice to enroll 4A in a private Montessori school which is often touted as the "best" in our area. It was a disaster of epic proportions. To be fair, no preschool would have worked for 4A before meds, but this particular school didn't even really give it a half-assed try. They negotiated with her during tantrums, had the arrogant audacity to tell us that we need to include her in more life activities at home, and generally just made things worse. When our beloved Dr. Steve suggested that we pull her out just a few months after starting her first year there as a 3 y/o, we, of course, did because that man's word is law in our house...we'll do ANYTHING he asks. Well, when I asked this great school if they would take her back the following fall, assuming 4A improved, they said no.

Holy shit was I pissed! At them, at 4A, at myself. I was mad, mad, mad for a LONG time. And, then I was sad, sad, sad for an even longer time. It was shortly after this withdrawal/dismissal that Dr. Steve referred us to Dr. G, our beloved pediatric neuropsychiatrist, and 4A's autism got manageable to a level that behavioral supports actually did work, but that's a story for another day. 

After the first preschool disaster, I called EVERY SINGLE SOLITARY preschool in our county. Every single one, candidly explaining the situation and asking them if they'd consider taking 4A on if we hired an aide to send with her. Out of the 30 or so places I called, only two said yes. Two.

So, with a tremendous amount of skepticism, trepidation, and hope, we enrolled 4A in what our kids call Ms. Patty's school. (Around these parts, folks don't call grownups Mr. or Mrs. Sir-name; that would be rude. Instead all grownups go by Ms. {pronounced "Miss"} or Mr. First-name.)

When I took 4A there that first day four years ago, I walked in with nerves of steel, determination, and months of HARD work under my belt. I had met with her aide (which was, thankfully, supplied by our county's early intervention program), met with the preschool's director and teacher and the aide with Dr. Steve by my side, prepped and revised and revised again the preschool behavioral plan with Dr. Steve, prayed, cried, made social stories, and on and on and on. HOURS of preparation were behind that walk from the car to the front door of that preschool.

That 42-second walk was gut-wrenching. Thoughts of the first failed preschool attempt, thoughts of dreams that never came to be, fear of whether or not Ms. Patty and her crew could really do things "right" by Dr. Steve. I don't remember feeling a single one of those happy, bittersweet, or parent-y moments that you hear first-time preschool parents so lovingly describe. I was nervous, sad, anxious, and terrified. The stakes were REALLY high...if 4A failed here, chances of a traditional school were not looking good.

Fast forward a couple of years with 4B. Typical kid that he was, he started at Ms. Patty's school as a 3 y/o. It was so cool to take him there and just drop him off. No work, no prep, no fear. Just dropped him off, the way regular parents do. He did (and still does) beautifully. But he was a boy, and it just wasn't the same. He walked closely to me that day for those 42 seconds to the school's front door. Never one for much excitement (JUST like his dad), he just went because it was his time and did well there because he was supposed to.

Now, this week, I took 4C there. That usual 42-second walk took about 7 seconds. She ran the WHOLE way, giggling with anticipation and excitement about school, finally being a big kid, and having her own place to go. Those seven seconds went WAY too fast. All those things I had dreamed about that day I first became a momma...they all happened spontaneously in 4C, easily and without any work on my part. It felt all the more sweet, I think, because of the first time I made that walk. And, just like those first-time preschool parents describe, it was bittersweet, time did feel like it had gone too fast, it was fun, and it was just had I had dreamed all those years ago.

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