Pennies From Heaven's Couch Cushions
The Rise & Fall of the Boob Civilization

Hat Trick

He was wearing a hat.

I didn't recognize him at first. He doesn't wear hats, you see. We have one winter hat that he will wear without excessive protest -- a stupidly expensive handmade-in-Peru tiger hat that he picked out himself two years ago at Whole Foods, and I was so gobsmacked at the sight of my child willingly wearing a hat that I bought it despite blanching at the price tag and the thought of the two dozen comparable hats we already owned.

So I was gobsmacked again, because of a hat. A handmade sun visor, covered in stickers.

"He's wearing a hat." I said, stupidly, to one of the camp's many grad student volunteers.

"Isn't it so cute?" she gushed. "He was a little worried about the glue at first, but then he was fine!"

I stared at her and blinked. "You mean he actually made it? Himself?"

She stared back. "Yes?"

"His preschool teacher used to do his art projects for him. For awhile, anyway. After Christmas she stopped pretending. And he doesn't wear hats."

"Well," she said, thinking hard, "he still really doesn't like glitter."

Then she chased after him for one last big bear hug. "I'll miss you, Noah," I heard her murmur. "Thank you for letting me play with you."

She came back to my side and took a deep breath. "I'll be back next summer. I love this place."


The word was out at camp: they all knew we were considering applying to The Preschool. I listened to them talk up the Saturday group to another mother before it was my turn.

It will be perfect. He's a perfect fit. This, plus the district morning program? Oh my God, it will be perfect. I talked to the director myself. Perfect. Perfect.

Stop saying that, I thought, but did not say.

I stammered that we were still only considering it, that we only found out the day before that it was even an option, and that we still weren't sure, given the cost and the fact that Noah would be in school ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

"He still takes a nap," I explained. "I'm worried it's going to be too much for him. His behavior really disintegrates when he gets worn out. We won't have time for playdates, for his typical friends."

What followed was an earnest -- if slightly predictable -- speech about the importance of early intervention, about this critical age and stage and how we just need to wallop him with therapy and structure and a rich sensory diet and nip it in the bud now to save ourselves years of costly tuition later.

"Most kids there do both programs and are just fine," said one of the camp OTs. The other one nodded.

Oh, you did not just say "MOST KIDS," I thought. Oh, no you did NOT.

"At the minimum, we'll do the Saturday group," I said, sort of hoping they'd lay off a bit if they knew we were planning to pay them money anyway. "Plus some one-on-one therapy."

"You should really do The Preschool," they both agreed.

Both of them work for the Outpatient Division, by the way. As in, they do not ever set foot in The Preschool.


Last night I crept into Noah's room and sat on his bed, watching him sleep, curled up with his favorite stuffed toy. I pushed his summer shaggy hair across his forehead and made a mental note to get him a haircut before the back-to-school madness this year. And shoes. Crap, he needs closed-toe shoes. Last year we waited too long and nobody had his size. I think his jacket will still fit, and some of his pants. We can layer longer t-shirts under some of the 3T long-sleeved shirts from last year, if his belly shows, since they still look practically brand-new. I smiled a little. One of the benefits of a cautious, mess-hating little boy: He is extremely easy on clothing.

That circled me back to the topic at hand. My chest and stomach twisted in anxiety while I replayed the day's comments and emails -- the good, the bad, the contradictory. The happy stories from parents who did, the sad ones from parents who didn't. The overwhelming use of the word regret. Would we regret not sending him? Should we send him simply because we're afraid of regretting something?  I felt the familiar sense of indignation that I get when something I write is misunderstood, even by a very few people, even when it was completely the fault of imprecise writing. A decent roof and working garbage disposal and non-dog-pee-stained carpet ARE important, I bratted, if you have to put your house on the market in the hurry and hope to get full price.

I finally stopped the futile process of trying to compose the perfect comment that would explain everything to an invisible audience of strangers and stared hard at Noah, trying to will the right answer into existence. I pulled him into my arms and held him as tightly as I dared, as if his neural pathways would communicate with me. This! This is what we need! Give it to us!

When that didn't work, I prayed. Then I went to bed and shook Jason awake.

"Quick. What does your gut say?"

He knew exactly what I was talking about. "I don't know. I go back and forth. You?"

I thought for a second. "I think we're getting the hard sell. I think they smelled the blood of nervous parents in the water, and I don't like it."

He nodded. I went on.

"But I still think we should send him."


And so we will.

He was, after all, wearing a hat.


PS. The PayPal button is staying down. I admit I was a little tempted to put it up again, but Jason feels very strongly Thank you, so much, those of you who offered to help. There are others who need that help more. For us, the offer is enough.


chatty cricket

WEARING a hat that HE MADE.

I could feel your agony. I have no idea what the right answer is, but I believe you are doing the best thing you can for Noah.

You're a very good Mom.


I spent all day thinking about other programs you could send him to and what I would do and what the right answer was and I basically threw my hands up in the air.

Only you knew the the answer. Or maybe Noah knew.

Much love.


I have a son with SID. When he was Noah's age, it was so huge. I stayed home with him. Smells, textures, sounds -- all overwhelming. I found a place that was on the cutting edge of therapy. It was hugely expensive and insurance would not cover a penny of therapy. But when I look at him now, doing SO well, going into the highest level at high school next year I am so glad I made the choice I made. I decided to go with my mother instinct and work with him at home and he did not go to preschool at all. I helped him by believing he didn't need 100 accommodations and labels and special this and that. I raised him like a "normal" kid and although he's not your average teen, he's already had a girlfriend, goes to friend's houses, made it through a public elementary school, a public middle school and will make it through a public high school just fine. I don't have any regrets.


All right, but tell Jason I begrudge having to click through all the faffing adds on your site every day (not implying you have too many -- just I'm not a clicker) instead of just doing a single paypal "tip." :)

samantha jo campen

My gawd I'm totally crying. Your love for him is so overwhelming and your writing is so beautiful. Yes, he wore a hat. And that's such a big huge deal. You'll do what's right, I know it.


You made a good decision. It was a hard one but I think it will work out in the long run. He made a hat! And wore the hat! That is wonderful! I wish you all a lot of luck this year at pre-school. I'm sure you'll see some great improvements and learn that this was really the right decision.


Conratulations on making a decision that is right for you and your family, not just right for everyone else :)

Hats off to you. Or on. Tip of the hat.


I am sure it feels great to make a decision! And the truth is, if it is too much you can change it. You aren't doing anything that isn't undoable.


It must be foam hat season! C made two at camp already and then fuh-reaked when one of the stickers fell off and ruined everything. So it goes. ;-) You're an awesome mama and Noah is one smart cookie.


I've been reading you forever. I think you were one of the first blogs I found years ago.

This post really got to me and made me all teary. I remember when Noah was such a little thing. I love the hat.


Hey! How about doing a fund raiser? Sell hats Designed By Noah. Ya know...that's not half bad...Charge a little extra for an Ezra piece of flair. :)


Noah is a very lucky boy, to have parents that care for him so much. The agony of the decision will be worth it, I think.

heather b

You guys can do it, and if you ever are in Philadelphia and need an old woman college student to watch your kid, I'd be glad to volunteer. I have 3.4 gpa!


I understand the desire to refuse any monetary help, but really, for those of us who want to contribute and CAN contribute just a few dollars, you should let us. It makes US feel better. Or at the very least, can we contribute to the program's scholarship fund?


You did NOTHING wrong by putting the button up. My little girl is 12 and severely autistic. There is nothing I wouldn't do to make sure she got what she needed, and I mean nothing. $10 blow-jobs? I'm on it. OK, maybe not that far, but damned close. You're a parent & you have a kid who needs more. More time, more money, more love. Don't apologize for trying to get what's best for him.


One thing I do regret is not going "all in" with my son Saxon as early as I could. I also worried about all day school so young. I did eventually but I wish I had sooner. Good call Mamalah!


You're making the right decision. Because he's wearing a hat.


I didn't comment the other day. How can I, when it's not my kid, not my money?

But I do think you're doing the right thing.


I would have donated and I don't even know you, nor do I have kids. I found you through Sundry and enjoy your writing.

What I will do is every day when I leave your site I will do it through a link, it may only add pennies but they add up.

Go Noah! Make your momma proud.


I know this must be such a difficult decision...but you are awesomely brave for going with your gut and giving the whole thing a chance.


Oooh. Or T-shirts. I love my Suburban Bliss one. Like, have them say, 'This shirt designed by a famous mommy blogger's autistic son!' and have him slap some paint on it. Autism awareness! Or is that too sweatshop like? Okay - I should drop it.


Wow. I've been reading your past posts for the past few hours and it feels like I'm reading about my own son. Seriously, our kids could be clones.

I am so frustrated because everyone has told me again, and again, that my son is "fine."

I have brought my concerns to all of his doctors (He has unrelated endocrine and urology issues), but no one wants to take futher steps. I tried to get him evaluated by the school, but the wait is 1 year. 1 YEAR! He's 4.

We don't have anywhere near the fiances to put him into a private program, andno one seems willing to refer him to a public one.

I don't know where I'm going with this. It feels like I'm looking into an alternative world version of my life or something.

Knowing that someone like my son has gotten help gives me hope to try to push harder


He is so adorable, I love the hat!!

Whatever you decide to do will be the best thing for him, and for you. Go with your gut. It's like the answer at trivia or Jeopardy, always go with your first guess. It's always the right one.

Amy M

I think you've made a great choice. I'm sorry it was so agonizing for you but I understand. I hope and pray this will be all you and your husband need it to be. And of course I hope and pray most that it's what Noah needs it to be. I wish you all the best.


Okay, let's try this again, I commented twice already, but not sure if my computer was being stupid. It does that sometimes.

Hopefully, I am not in that regret category, but if I am, I was one of those good intentions people. I do not think you are putting anything above your son. As a mother, and a good one at that, you do an awesome job juggling several different hats.

And pay close attention to the blue visory one with stickers. As Noah's parents you are in the best position to decide, and yes, twice the money is a lot, but whatever your choice, it is the right because you have the most information to decide. In my case, which could be different from yours, I would go for it, damn the consequences. But I just work that way. You are thinking logically and rationally.

You are doing the right thing, whatever that thing is.


You mentioned you were worried about Noah missing his nap - I would be worried too, to take a boy from his nap! and understand!

However, all the preschools I looked at, and the one my son goes to, have a nap/rest time in the early afternoon. Kids can sleep on their mats, or quietly look at a book.

I bet the new school has a quiet time where Noah could nap. (If it doesn't, that would suprise me.)


I know you feel the hard sell, and I can relate, not from a special needs standpoint, but from a private school standpoint. I do think, though, that the people who are in education, special needs or mainstream, are actually passionate about it. And I'd like to think that they are being persuasive because they see a bright, beautiful, amazing boy that they really believe they can help. He wore a hat! that he made! yay!


Look at how handsome he is in that hat! And when did he start looking more like a little boy and less toddlerish?

I noticed that while you gracefully declined donations to your PayPal, you didn't opt out of a Bake Sale. I make some mean apple pie, you know, if it comes up. ;)

Big hugs to you guys and Noah. I can't ever imagine you choosing the wrong thing for him.


Been reading for a while, and love hearing 'your' side of the story. It also helps that your boys are so darn adorable! (full disclosure - I am a peds OT.) Sometimes it is hard to get past our own convictions and see it from the other side. Now that I am also a parent of a little one with sensory processing difficulties, I can truly say that I am glad that you are going to do it. I think I would do the same thing, even if I weren't an OT. But purely as an OT, it is true, early intervention is sooooo much better, and easier, and cheaper for the child and the family. Very hard decision given the current economy, but I hope that all things work out for the best for you and your family.


Go Noah for wearing a hat. It looks like an awesome hat--and I'll bet in 20 years he'll pull that out of his special things box of things that his mom saved for him, and it'll still be a cute hat.

Wacky Mommy

That hat just rules.


Oh Amy. I remember the panicked post when he was just arriving to this world, and I feel like everything you do is always in his best interest, despite whatever the comments say (which I suppose is still a little odd considering), but I know that whatever you go with will be best for Noah. He's as cute as a button, and I'm sure will grow up to be healthy and happy because he has such loving and involved parents.


You reached into and held something inside my heart with this. Hugs and may all be well.


awesome hat. he's on his way, just getting awesomer and awesomer.


This was exquisite. You are all so courageous, good luck!


Always better to regret something you did than something you didn't do. There's that word regret again. Sorry.
Good move.

Cheryl S.

Remember, nothing is written in stone. Start him at the preschool. If it's too much, you can choose which program to stop! He's only 4. He doesn't start kindergarten until next year. If he needs more time with mommy and friends, you can do that. By starting him at the preschool, you at least leave the door open.

Much love to you and Noah and your family. And how amazing is it that he was wearing a hat!!


It is a very nice hat.

Each time when my husband & I have struggled with finding the balance of what our children need and how much we can give we have always chosen to try to give the most (and I'm not talking video games). When people marvel at what we do (and by marvel I mean criticize that we spend too much on tuition & there are no fancy vacations and we do not get to eat a Applebees 3 nights a week) I always remember that we didn't get into this parenting racket because it seemed like a fun thing to do. We've got a limited number of years to get these people ready for the world...we'll use everything we've got.

Plano Mom

I'm so sorry if my comments hit a nerve or sounded judgemental, they never were intended that way. You made the right decision (but it would have been right the other way too). And let us know if we can help any other way, like send you our baby wipe or deoderant coupons - I'd gladly support further installments of Deoderant Wars.

Mrs. Q.

In this economy, it's hard to distinguish between therapists who are giving you a hard sell for their business and pleading with you to do what's right for Noah. UGH! I don't blame you for having concerns. I mean, he's a baby and he needs to be in school ALL DAY? I'd have a hard time with that, too. Kids aren't allowed to be kids anymore. But I think you are correct-- you would always be filled with regret if you didn't take the opportunity. Remember, if it doesn't work out, for either of you, you can always pull out. Hopefully you can take a deep breath and enjoy his new adventure. I'm sure he will.


I'm glad that YOU are comfortable with your decision...really, that is all that matters.

Hats, who knew they could be such a victory?!


Holy shit, he wore a hat. And made it! HIMSELF! WITH GLUE AND STUFF! That's good. That's like, really good. That's awesome.

You guys are great. You are the parents everyone should be. You're doing a good job, Amy. Keep it up.


Big props to Noah for wearing a hat that HE MADE! Loads of awesomeness!

You and Jason made a tough decision, but in my mind it was the right decision. But then, what do I have to do with it? It was right because you made it with Noah's best interest in your minds and hearts. You are great parents and you are doing the best thing you can for your wonderful son. If he responds to the school like he has to the camp you will be rewarded for this decision a million times over.

I'm clicking on every single ad on your site today, multiple times...


I have been reading your blog for years and this is just tearing me up. It's so hard being a parent. Making sure your making the right decisions. You might only need this school for a year. He has grown so much from just reading about it, I can only imagine how much he has grown in front of your eyes. It is amazing. We try to do the best for our kids, so that they grown up strong, successful able to have relationships and friends and morals. Whatever you do, Noah will be fine, if he doesn't go to the school, you will do the extra steps to ensure he makes it. He needs to have fun and playdates to! You both are very good parents and I know you have it in you to have Noah succeed in life NO MATTER WHERE he goes to school. You two are awesome parents, you can pick up the slack!!!! It's okay no matter what you decide. You know what he needs.


Thanks for writing this, Amy! (I'm trying to comment more since your blogher post, since this is a community!)

I'm a school psychologist & don't work with the little kiddos much but the place that you found sounds *WONDERFUL* Having a staff that likes the kids, helps them progress & wants to come back year after year? Sign me up to spend my summers working there (or create a similar program here)!

You made the point about the new carpet & garbage disposal in the most delicate and sensitive way. I think about things like that every time I do something to our house ("If forced, how soon could we have it on the market? oh. Never mind. We'll just stay here forever." sigh)

Hope that things work out for all of you. I'll click on all your ads as often as I can!


Congratulations on being the very best mommy you can absolutely be, no matter what your decision. This invisible audience is very visibly proud of you. So congrats again on your decision. But even bigger congrats on the hat.


I'm so happy you've made a decision, and I hope everything turns out in the very best way possible. (And I really think it will!) Noah's a lucky kid to have you guys as parents.


and how very dashing he looks in that hat!

i wish you all the best in this decision. so glad he enjoyed his camp so much.
here's hoping for many good things to come your way.....

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