So I was rifling through the closet today -- looking for my lost glove, of all things -- when...what's this thing? A...toddler? Oh RIGHT! My other kid. I completely forgot.
Noah's doing just fine, thank you for vaguely maybe thinking of asking. The hellacious tantrums of a few weeks back turned out to be, like many of you said, the precursor to a lovely developmental spurt. He went to bed one night saying, "Bye Dada" and woke up the next morning saying, "Bye-bye Dada go work ALL GONE!" Complete with a little hand-wringing and the perfect touch of woe during the "ALL GONE!" part, like "Yes, Dada is all gone. We are fresh out of Dadas and do not expect our next shipment for at least six to eight weeks and it just breaks my heart to have to tell you this, ma'am."
Don't get me wrong -- he can still be a willful little shit if he wants to, but 99.9999999% of the time I just adore the hell out of him.
In a couple weeks we begin "transitional testing" -- basically we start the assessment process all over again to see what (if any) services Noah will qualify for after he turns three. It can range from "nothing, there is the door and I said GOOD DAY SIR" to continued therapy to free daily preschool, courtesy of our tax dollars.
I believe I've mentioned that I already enrolled Noah in a preschool for this fall -- the assessment process is fairly maddening, as we won't find out what we qualify for until Noah actually turns three. We may have an idea, but we won't know for sure until well after the deadlines for preschool enrollment and well after all the four-digit deposits are due. (Early Intervention at least seems to know the system sucks, and promised to write a letter begging for our deposits back if it turns out that if Noah DOES qualify for the preschool program. Am hoping this would be enough, considering our chosen preschool already has a waitlist 50 families deep, so it's doubtful they will be incredibly crushed over missing the chance to educate our special little snowflake.)
I honestly don't know where we'll end up. I once felt very sure that Noah's third birthday would mark the end of our EI journey, but now? Eh? Verbally, Noah is clearly near the top of the pack in his class-slash-therapy group, but...that's not really the best comparison for basing a decision to go mainstream on. The group isn't exactly chock-full of "typical" talkers.
Behavior-wise, again, I don't know. He's had a few really good weeks. He's definitely more comfortable with circle time and the singing and transitioning from one activity to the next, provided he gets a little extra warning time. He plays beautifully with other children. But then try to slip on a plastic-y vinyl art smock or get glue on his fingers and hoo boy. Just...hooooo. Fucking. Boy.
Today I eavesdropped on another mother discussing the results of her son's testing. He qualified for four days a week of district-sponsored preschool. I was shocked, honestly -- her son's verbal abilities seemed pretty good. She was a little shocked as well, but said the decision was made more for his sensory and behavioral problems. What behavioral problems? Well, resistance to transitions and trouble staying with group activities. Huh.
For some reason I assumed the school district's bar for free services would be set much higher. And I also assumed that my kid was going to be some kind of valedictorian of Early Intervention, because come on. Look at THAT kid. And THAT one.
But then we hang out with non-EI kids and I can't deny that Noah isn't there yet, speech-wise. Socially, he's fantastic -- he shares pretty well, he's never aggressive, he's almost painfully aware of other children's moods and feelings. But the holes and gaps are definitely there. I just don't know how important they are anymore, at least in the school district's eyes.
While Noah attended his class today, EI had the mothers meet with a parent educator/child behavioral specialist/I'm not really sure of her title. Basically a support group where everybody can talk about different challenges and problems related to speech delays and sensory problems and typical toddler drama bullshit. (I know, right? It's like, start a damn blog already, people. That's what the Internet's there for.)
She spoke to us about the transition testing process, and warned us that it will most likely be even more draining and difficult than our initial intake assessment -- simply because of the bubble Early Intervention unwittingly puts you in. During the initial assessment -- you're scared. You've just started to come to grips with the idea that there's something "wrong" with your child (or "different!" as the parent educator would cheerfully correct me). You want help. You need help. These people are here to help. They give you a plan and goals and a promise that they can help. Okay. It's going to be okay.
After months and months in the program, you see progress! Glorious progress! You see how bad it could have been and you see how far you've come. Noah had six words in August, now listen to him! Bye-bye Dada go work all gone! Look at him walk! No tippy-toes! He loves slides! He'll play in the dirt! PRAISE JEBUS, HE'S CURED!
And then people swoop back into your home with clipboards and checklists and measure that progress and tell you that hey, yeah, that's great. It's still not enough. There's still a delay, a problem, a difference. He's still not ready.
And that might not happen. And if it does, well...jeez, I can certainly think of other things I would LOVE to spend that preschool tuition on this fall. And if it doesn't, well...I'll send him to preschool with a cotton art smock and hope that it's enough. That it was all enough.