Choices We're Lucky To Have (But Still Don't Want To Make)
Lapdog Meets Laptop

Verdict

In the end, the decision was easier than I thought it would be. Jason and I essentially did a "on the count of three everybody say their gut feeling okay one, two, three" conversation and both blurted out the same answer.

And it felt like the right one. Even though it wasn't the answer I originally saw myself choosing, honestly.

Not that we haven't revisited the topic over and over and over again since (because oh, Christ, we have, and I am so sick of talking about this, even though I am here on my blog continuing to talk about it gah stab this entry with a fork I am so done). But each time we've ended up back where we started, nodding in agreement. 

We're going to stick with the IEP, the public Preschool Education Program.

(breathes into a paper bag)

I think I've mentioned it before, but we are fortunate to live in an AMAZING school district. And we live in a pocket of that district with especially well-regarded schools. Every time I set foot in the elementary school where Noah attends PEP I am endlessly impressed with the facility and the teachers and the quality of services we get for free there. ("Free" after high housing prices and taxes and blah dee blee.) And it is where we want Noah to attend kindergarten the year after next. (His September birthday puts him juuuust past the cut-off so we've got a nice automatic cushion of an extra year). Of the two schools he attends, this is the one that has laid out a clear plan to get him there, with whatever accommodations he still needs at the time. Keeping him in this program should hopefully result in a steady progression and a seamless transition.

The private school has been mostly pessimistic about Noah's chances of mainstreaming in kindergarten. So I guess we're choosing optimism.

I still wish Noah could attend both school again next year, but he can't. I hate having to look back on how far Noah's come since September and figure out which program deserves most of the credit, or if it really is both. And while neither school will have a morning option for him next year, the private school is run by an organization that DOES offer other services in the morning. Occupational and speech therapy, sensory integration groups, etc. He will definitely need additional services next year. (So trust me when I say: our decision really has nothing to do with finances; going a la carte with this stuff isn't really any cheaper.) His favorite occupational therapist moved from the preschool to the outpatient division: he's never stopped asking for her, so as much as I know he'll miss the school, I think he'll be really, REALLY happy with regular sessions with her.

So yes. I think this is our best shot at duplicating our current arrangement next year. It won't be the same, but hopefully: close enough.

We actually took Noah to his IEP meeting -- it's distracting to have him there, but I just like the team members to SEE HIM and interact with him while discussing all the more clinical stuff and All His Shortcomings instead of talking about him through the filter of paperwork.

He sat next to his teacher. He behaved beautifully. Though all he wanted in the world was her attention. When she gave it to him, he lit up. And I watched her face, and...it was so kind and loving. Genuinely loving. She laughed at his jokes and asked him questions and knew exactly how to bring him back to "inside voice" and was obviously so proud of the progress he's made this year. "He is soooo smart," she sighed, as she gave the rundown on his academic skills -- which for the first! time! ever! were actually in line with what we knew he could do. If he stays in PEP, she'll be his teacher again.

I watched her face and swear I could see what she wanted and hoped for him, and what she believed he was capable of. And in that moment, it was like looking into a mirror.

Comments

Johanna

Your comments about his teacher brought me to tears! That is SO wonderful. I hope that as the days go by, your decision feels more comfortable.

Don't you think some decisions are like shoes... you have to break them in and then you know they are "just right"?

Patty

God Bless you all, Amy, you just made me cry! I've been listening to my 3yo son snoring over the baby monitor during his nap, trying to figure out what to do with him for the summer. I just found out he's too smart for Extended School Year, which would be great, except for the fact that he DOESN'T TALK! His teacher said he's too advanced for their summer program, but now what do I do with him? *sigh*

I am so, so proud of Noah and all of the progress he's made! I know that this wasn't an easy decision for you to make, but I'm glad you chose optimism. Noah is a special boy, and he is very lucky to have such great parents.

Bethany

Had to shut my office door because I just burst into tears. Good luck and lots of prayers and best wishes and all that for things to continue doing so well. He's such a lucky little guy to have you guys fighting for him.

DeAnn G.

And that makes 4 of us bawling..... your blog and pregnancy hormones....you either make me laugh so hard I need to cross my legs or cry so much I need tissues...OKAY, and maybe cross my legs also, damn.

jodifur

I'm so happy for you, that you made this decision. Noah is such an amazing kid, and I'm sure he will thrive.

kris

OK, crying over here too. The extra year will do wonders for Noah. What ever "extras" he may need for K he will definitely amaze you a year from now with all the things he can do at school. Kids (all kids) are amazing when given the resources they need. What they can accomplish when given the support they need just astonishes me.

Heidi

YAY! So glad that Noah has such fantastic people on his side!

Megan

All I could think about was how great this world would be if every child had a teacher like that.

Stacy

I am a teacher and a parent. I was a teacher for 10 years before I became a parent and I mention it because before the Mama job and since I've loved the kids I've had the pleasure to teach. And I've realized that when a kid knows you believe in him; that you have affection for him....they will progress so much more. Sounds like you've got a great teacher for Noah. And that's very happy indeed.

HolyMama!

that teacher is a keeper!

when i find a teacher like that, i request her for all my kids when they're the right age for her class. my preschooler is the THIRD little boy of mine that a certain wonderful teacher has taught.

(i hope she likes us, too. if not, she's finally glad this is the last year and i"m not having any more kids.)

heather

I think Noah and you guys deserve all the credit. You all for finding him the right opportunities and him for learning to trust his environment and learning to let his gifts shine. He will do AWESOME next year. There is nothing like finding kids who treasure your kids as you do.

reenie

I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but I wish I could take your heart out of your body and put it in mine. Your last sentence alone made my heart stop. You have such insight and obviously love your kids so much...but no - it goes beyond that...you love them, but you are also so involved...so enmeshed & interwoven and just PART of their lives. I would say I want to be you when I grow up, but I'm 34 years old with 6 year-old & 4 year-old boys...so I guess I could say I wish I had been you when I grew up.

I've got every reason to think Noah is going to be just fine...he's got you as a mother. (And Jason, I guess, too.) ;o)

Jamie

Oh dear. You know the internet loves you, and your family, and Noah, and his teacher, right? Ok, just checking. Cause we do. Now quit making everyone cry.

Maureen Sier

So happy for you and for Noah...and so understand the need to keep revisiting the decision!

Dawn

I'm so happy for you guys. You made the decision and can have *most* of the best of both worlds. Also: tearing up over here at work. Thanks.

Good for you for choosing optimsim. There isn't enough of that happening in the world.

Springsteen fan

Wow. I've been checking into your blog like a stalker trying to find out the latest, and just...wow. Your voice is so perfect in describing these kinds of huge parental moments. I hope Noah reads these words of yours someday and understands how deep your love is.

Leandra

Okay, I was advocating for the private program in my last comment, but I truly *love* that you have chosen optimism. I think that pretty much sums up your whole outlook on this whole situation.

Sprite's Keeper

When you've got the teacher on your side, it's always a win. Congrats on breathing a little easier!

Plano Mom

Yeah. Tears. Dammit. I'm happy.

liz

Totally verklempt.

Jane

His teacher sounds WONDERFUL! I wish you guys nothing but the best.

DiaryofWhy

Wow, warm fuzzies. :)

Cara

I have no business having an opinion on this, but when I read about his teacher I just KNEW you were making the right call.

April

Congrats! I'm so glad the process was easier than you thought it would be.

Shelby Shankland

Welling up with tears!! So happy for you. It's so amazing to see someone else caring for your child's progress as much as you do.

Miss Britt

Big, sloppy, awwwwwwwwwwww.

Jen L.

Wow. I want to find that teacher and hug her. I'd hug you, too, you know.

Amy Bridges

Lordy, that last line knocked me down and I had to tear up a tiny bit. Yay for my pal Noah. :)

Lauraldawn

That's amazing!
As someone a couple of years ahead of you, with a similar child (he's 6 now) I can tell you that this stress is so worth it - and the decisions will work out.
After a lot of debate we went with the public system too. Today I got a call about my son's IEP. He has so many challenges, but the important line to me said that he is considered "gifted, with behavioural challenges". This from a child who we were once told we should not mainstream because he was unwilling to try printing and didn't like the feel of fingerpaints. (among other things)
Yes, there are challenges and always will be, but when you find a school that sees your child for who he is,and who is willing to go the extra mile to help ... it's so worth it.
And, you know, the reason I chose the school? Because when I met the teacher, and she met my son she connected with him. I knew from day one that she would love him. And the growth in the past 2 years amazes me every day.
Who knows what is in store for Noah? But, I bet it's great things.

Megan@Blueberry Scones

I'm with a commenter above - I had no idea how you would vote, but when I read that part about the teacher? Yeah, I totally knew you made the right choice. It's awesome to get that kind of validation.

sheilah

I have not read any of the comments yet and I am probably regurgitating things mentioned earlier but I am so glad that he has a teacher that sees and believes in his potential. It is great that he will have the continuity that being with her will give him.

I say, Yay for Noah. Keep it up, little buddy.

Julie

I almost never comment, but seriously. That last line = tears. Thank God for that teacher.

Judy

You made exactly the right decision.

I truly think Noah is going to surprise us all. Someday while accepting his Pulitzer or Nobel or Oscar, he is going to thank that teacher - and his parents.

Jennifer

So you start out all business-like with 'this is the decision we made' and you have me in tears at the end!?! So happy for you and Noah. Beautiful post.

amymvr

Ok, I'm crying. I'm an Early Intervention Speech Therapist and I just hope that in my ten years I have made a couple of moms feel the way you did at Noah's IEP. Thatnks for showing me that side.

alison

Oh yay! What a wonderful teacher (and awesome parents)! Make sure you tell her this story at some point because teachers don't hear it enough. :)

Erin

I never comment, but I loved this so much. As a preschool special education teacher, this post brought tears to my eyes. I love that you have such an amazing teachers.

Nina

Choked up here.

I am just...so happy for Noah and for you and Jason.

Blessings!

Stephanie

The comments you made about his teacher were so wonderful and such a huge compliment to her. I hope she reads your site or somehow gets to see how you feel in writing. I am a teacher and teach children with IEP's. I can only hope and pray that the parents can see the love I have for their children in my eyes as you have described. Really moving.

Anna Marie

Amy, as the mother of a special needs child (one with SO MANY ISSUES) I applaud you for going with your gut. For 5 years people have been telling me to Go With My Gut and damned if it hasn't worked out for the best. So Yay for Noah, and you, and the whole family. Just, Yay.

Brandi

Wow, what an amazing teacher! I'm glad your decision wasn't as hard as you thought it would be. Onward and upward! Go Noah!

Mary

I hope you send this post to his teacher--as a teacher, it would so warm my heart to know you felt this way.

lisa

As a public school speech therapist who LOVES my students, I am so happy to hear that you feel confident in Noah's team! What a great thing that you all have the same goal for Noah and can all work together to get there.

Also, selfishly it just makes me happy to hear positive things about a public school. I know there are bad teachers/therapists out there, but most of us are there because we truly do care about the kids and believe in providing free (after taxes, etc) services for every student who needs them!

Peachy

Yes, yes, I'm crying too... but you had me before the bit about teacher. (That just made me sob out loud.)

You took.. your son.. to his IEP. You took him to the IEP!! You absolutely wonderful, marvelous, crazy-amazing person, you... you made sure they saw NOAH, and not the paperwork.

Good gods I hope I'm as good at this as you are. I don't know who's luckier - you guys or Noah!

Haley

okay, you totally had me teary eyed there. beautiful post.

and Noah gets to ride the school bus again next year, right? Not that the bus should really weigh heavily in the decision making process, but he loves it so much - I couldn't imagine a year without school bus posts!

Lillabilly

People shouldn't be allowed to become teachers unless they can be exactly like that.

Maxine Dangerous

I'm so glad I save your blog for last in my feed reader. I <3 the warm fuzzies this entry gave me. Go, Team Noah! :)

Katrina

That is so wonderful that you could come to a decision that you are happy with! Good luck to Noah, I'm sure he will do just as well!

Lori

I'm holding back tears right now. How wonderful to have found a program and a teacher who care so much and want SO MUCH for your sweet little guy. I hope you know how much I cry and CHEER with you at his accomplishments!!! I'm glad the decision feels right!!

sara

You guys are so awesome - and so fortunate - I love you more for KNOWING how fortunate you are to be in your school district. WE're ready to start our own school for my nephew...too high functioning for some, too low functioning for others...it's a tough world out there! Noah is kicking it in it's ass!

Joanne

I'm glad you decided something, I think that makes it so much better. My son is in an ABA school and goes to his public school preschool one day a week. He is entitled to the (free) services that he gets there, and even though we had to fight his ABA peeps to get him there, I think it's worth it. And if it doesn't work out, or if he seems better once he's back at his ABA school five days a week this summer, we'll just change it. We can always make a change, I have to remind myself.

Catootes

That is so wonderful, for you, FOR NOAH!
It's an amazing thing when a teacher knows what is inside a child, despite the obstacles to get there.
We were also fortunate when a 4th grade teacher FINALLY, FINALLY! listened to us and Ace's Dyslexia and Dysgraphia were identified and helped with an IEP for several years.
Best of luck with the new programs next year!

Mary

As my grandmother would say--bless your heart. I'm so glad you made this decision, that description of his teacher just clinched it. It's so amazing when you find someone like that--the greatest gift and the most noble occupation there is in my book. Also--from a mom of a kid a lot like Noah but several years older--she is mainstreamed just dandy in K this year (inclusion program), thanks to our public developmental preschool and the wonderful teachers there. I get a little teary every time I think about those people and how very far she came during that time. Most of the other moms in her K now have no idea she has an IEP at all.

Sorry for blabbing on about our experience. I'm just so happy for all the progress Noah has made this year--even though I've never met the little guy.

Della

Crying. again. Ezra makes me laugh, Noah makes me cry.

I am SO MAD I won't be able to come to BlogHer and hug you and send a few home to the boys. Sigh.

Marianne

*sniff* Congrats! and also, *sniff*

Becca

Tears. Rolling.

We are just starting the early intervention evaluation and diagnosis of what the heck is wrong with my boy process. I am a wreck. Reading this makes me hopeful that we will be in your shoes. That he will get the help he needs. That we will all survive this.

Thank you.

lorrie

It's something isn't it? Our youngest has struggled mightily with reading and writing and has an older sister who was writing 10 page stories at age 5 (and started her own blog, which I typed for her) and at age 11, just beat me through "Twilight"..and I read fast....

When the youngest, now completing 3rd grade and consistently on the A or A/B Honor Roll (got a B in Reading and 3 As last time) proudly laid out her allowance for her very own graphic novel copy of "Twilight" the other day I choked up in the bookstore. I pretended it was allergies.

Cheryl

It is ALL ABOUT a GREAT teacher. And so brilliant to take him with you to the IEP. So often they end up talking about your kid like they are talking about some car they are working on. I know it's not personal - it's the nature of the beast - they do this all day long....but so smart for you to show him off so they remember it's THIS KID not just ANY kid.

Congrats on an excellent decision! AND yeah for public schools! Kind of relieving to hear there are some great ones out there.

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