I woke up this morning to discover that a big giant kid crept in and ate Noah up last night.
I was pretty annoyed, so I walked him to the neighborhood bus stop and sent him off to school with a bunch of other big kids. Whatever.
The other parents snapped pictures as their kids lined up and boarded the bus. I just stood there. I'd abandoned my camera on our front step because Noah was having a hard morning and me standing around trying to capture the preshus memories of childhood rites of passage was clearly NOT HELPING. He didn't want to get out of bed, he didn't want to get dressed, he didn't want a shirt with too many buttons and he didn't want breakfast and he CERTAINLY didn't want to walk to the bus stop.
But of course the minute we rounded the corner and he spotted other kids at the bus stop his anxiety melted. He cheerfully climbed on the bus and stopped mid-step to turn around and give me the most picture-perfect first-day-of-school wave in the HISTORY of first-day-of-school waves.
I waved back. I bit my lip. I turned around and walked home.
Noah will spend part of his day in the mainstream kindergarten classroom. Mostly the "easy" stuff like homeroom, lunch, art, recess. Close to 30 kids with one teacher. (Who, okay, is a dude. And Ezra's preschool teacher [he starts next week] is a dude. Lots of dudes all of a sudden!) The rest of the day he'll be in a smaller special education class. He'll get one-on-one OT once a week and other support services as-needed for issues related to attention, behavior, anxiety, sensory stuff. It's all good. We're extremely pleased and are hoping for a mostly-smooth year. We're also continuing to take Noah to private services every week to plug the holes in his IEP, because we still aren't that idealistic. Ain't our first rodeo, and all.
I get asked from time to time about the whole blogging-about-Noah thing, and it's a totally fair question. (Provided it's asked in a way that doesn't assume 1) that it's something that has NEVER EVER OCCURRED TO ME TO THINK ABOUT, and 2) that there's only one right answer, and that it is not the one I've come up with.)
Here's the thing: Yes, I suppose it is possible that Noah's classmates might one day read this blog and learn that he experienced developmental delays. It is possible. Likely? I dunno. I imagine by the time they're of the age where they're Googling each other and allowed to visit random blogs with R-rated langauge unsupervised, Noah will have his own online presence that will supercede this one in the search results, or this blog will be offline or entries will have been removed (I do that, sneakily like, sometimes) and hey, if kids really want to spend hours and hours tracking down an unformatted cache of overwrought ramblings from somebody's boring old MOM on Wayback Machine, well...Noah has my blessing to mock the SHIT out of them right back.
(I also own the possibility that any of my children might one day look at me and say, "Wow, I really wish you hadn't done that," about blogging or posting pictures or hell, any number of parenting choices we make that might, in hindsight, suck.)
But the fact is, other kids don't need to do all that much to figure out some of the things I've shared here, if they want to. They just need an older sibling with a yearbook, because Noah's name and picture have been in there for the past two years, as part of the district's preschool program.
And they'll see him leave the classroom every day. That part worried me, as hypocritical as that probably sounds.
I asked the special education teacher about it on Friday: Do the other kids...notice? Do they ask? Do they figure it out?
No, she assured me. Just about every kid gets "pulled out" at some point during the day or week. There's a large ESOL population and those kids go to their own classroom too. Some kids need handwriting help, or speech therapy for lisps or stutters. Others go to special reading groups -- both remedial and gifted. Some kids see the school pyschologist, some get tutoring, and all of this happens in mysterious "other" rooms than the homerooms, so no one knows why anyone is leaving. When everyone is special...no one is. Huh.
"Mostly, the kids who stay behind think the ones who leave are lucky," she said.
And really, Noah IS lucky. He has an amazing barrage of services being made available to him, even in an age of crazy district budget cuts and school overcrowding. He has received great services from this school already, in addition to all the private therapy and camps and whatnot.
And he is lucky because once upon a time, his mother poured her heart out to the Internet when she feared her baby might be speech delayed. And when she found out that he was. And when she first heard of "Sensory Processing Disorder" and "Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified" and Asperger's and dyspraxia and ADHD and any number of acronyms and diagnosis codes that have shown up in paperwork or conversations.
He is lucky because when I did that, people listened. And they helped. They left comments and emails and sent me book and website recommendations and phone numbers and taught me how to be his advocate and let me cry on their shoulders both virtually and in real life. They taught me how to write social stories and that visual schedules help and have you talked to the miracle workers at The Treatment & Learning Centers? They donated money and a kick in the pants when I was stressed and hesitant about an insanely expensive private school tuition bill. They told me I would never, ever regret spending that money and they were 100% right. They taught me not to be afraid or ashamed, but let me know that it was okay to feel that way sometimes.
You listened. You shared. You taught. You helped.
I don't really feel compelled to share the daily ups and downs of raising a challenging child quite the way I used to, when Noah was little and baffling and I felt so lost and overwhelmed all the time. He's big and still baffling but...we got this. More or less. Some days are better than others, just like always. We're trying some new things and re-introducing some old things that stopped working so well but seem to help again but mostly we just...enjoy being around our boy. Who enjoys going places and doing things except for the places and things that he doesn't. We just have to try to keep it all straight, and then be prepared when he changes the rules on us again. No biggie.
But, you know. I'll still keep you posted. Don't worry.
In the meantime, though, one small favor: If your child comes home from school and tells you about how some kids talk funny or can't sit still or can't keep quiet or don't like to be touched and those kids get pulled out of the classroom during math and reading and science and asks you where do those kids go? And why?
Tell them that gee, you can't say for sure. But those kids sound pretty lucky.