Ages and ages ago, I remember reading someone else's blog post about their child starting preschool. And it was boring! Preschool! It happens! Your kid is too big to cuddle now anyway! Send 'em off, ship 'em out, I have no time for your hand-wringing and hair-biting!
Noah starts preschool on Monday.
*shoves hair in mouth*
We went to drop off another stack of forms and oh, I don't even know how many dollars today and were told we could go meet his teacher.
Noah shyly walked around the room, played with a toy cash register and some puzzles, eagerly selected a moon-shaped sticker from a proffered baggie and recited a fairly impressive soliloquy from Blue's Clues while investigating a toy baby bassinet. ("Cinnamon! He looks like a Cinnamon. What a great name! Paprika, you just named your baby brother!") (We've been watching "The Baby's Here!" episode quite a bit, for obvious reasons.)
Then Noah spotted a pile of posters on the floor -- shapes, colors, numbers, all waiting to be be hung up. "An octagon!" he shouted. "Stop sign is octagon."
He moved on to the next poster, which was about counting to four. "Five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten!" he finished.
His teacher raised an eyebrow and looked at me. I jokingly thanked Noah for making me look good.
(Confidential to Steve from Blue's Clues: THANK YOU FOR MAKING ME LOOK GOOD.)
Just an hour or so before, we randomly bumped into one of the Early Intervention/Kids At Play moms at our pediatrician's office. We didn't have much time to talk -- she was there with her brand-new-as-of-THURSDAY baby, looking exhausted and overwhelmed. We promised to get back in touch and finally plan that playdate we've been talking about for months and months now. She headed off to meet with the lactation consultant, I went to go get my forms certifying that my child is not pulsing with lead and infectious diseases.
I'd dutifully filled out my required sections of the forms, occasionally stymied by the questions about Noah's development.
"THINGS I AM WORKING ON WITH MY CHILD."
"MY CHILD WILL NEED HELP WITH THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES."
I attended the panel at BlogHer for special-needs parents, although I almost skipped it, fearing that I would be viewed as some kind of tourist. Hadn't we gotten the all-clear from our EI program? Didn't I have a stack of test results proving that my child was speaking at a normal and age-appropriate level? Wasn't that chapter of our lives over and done with?
Well, yes. And no.
Noah graduated from EI on the basis of speech, and speech alone. I didn't realize that by dropping our (awful terrible grr hate smash) occupational therapist and opting to work on his sensory issues in a group setting only, I was essentially telling the county that I was no longer concerned with those "other" problems.
Noah still has a pretty pronounced oral aversion. He cannot use a fork or a spoon or drink from a cup. If he likes a food, he'll stuff his mouth until he chokes. If he dislikes something, he can't even bear to touch it to his lips. He is the most physically cautious almost-three-year-old boy you will ever meet. He will go down THAT kind of slide but not THAT kind. He hates messes and still lines up toys. The test scores indicate a child who is speaking and articulating appropriately. The average trip to the playground indicates the exact opposite. Sure, he's not silent. But his social language is still mostly roars and amusing sound effects. He's very, very hard to understand. Countless times people have looked to me for a translation and all I can offer is a shrug. Certain triggers send him into a frightened, overwhelmed state that I can only describe as a toddler-sized panic attack.
He is, to put it mildly and spare you a million other humdrum details, a quirky kid.
And I mentioned this to other bloggers who have kids in EI or on the spectrum or undergoing developmental assessments. And, bless them, they all GOT IT. The constant waffling between "he's fine, that's just who he is, embrace it already," and "will his life be made harder because of this, and should I be doing something about it?" And that's where we are, muddling through. Thrilled to be officially past the label stage of speech delays and SID/SPD, but also at a loss, because now how do we explain Noah and his needs without falling back on labels that maybe don't apply? "Child had speech delay, is all better now, hooray!"
I wrote a lot of neurotic-sounding nonsense on Noah's preschool forms. Overprotective and overused crap about "transitions" and "overwhelmed easily in noisy areas" and "dread fear of fingerpaints." I wrote it because I worried I'd be doing Noah a disservice to pretend that side of him didn't still exist.
His teacher will read all of that later this week, I guess.
But...I hope she mostly remembers that Noah is the kid who knew what an octagon was.
Noah and his very own photo of Baby Brother. He says he loves Baby Brother. He also says he loves windmills, chocolate, his SpongeBob soap dispenser, helichoppers and Olympic synchronized diving.