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A week from Monday marks a HUGE transition in our lives. D will start preschool. Up until this point he’s always been with me. I am both so excited for him and so anxious. I don’t normally write about the kids out of privacy concerns but I think this is such an important conversation to have.
You see this isn’t just preschool; this is the culmination of 4 years of work to get my little preemie ready. We have spent THOUSANDS of hours in Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and Feeding Therapy to help him do what his neurotypical peers can do instinctively. He has been a rockstar and worked hard toward each goal we set before him. And now it’s time to let him fly. He’s ready. I KNOW he’s ready.
I worry. I worry he won’t eat a single thing until he comes home. I worry that the other kids will make fun of the way he talks. I worry he won’t make friends. I worry his teachers won’t understand his stimming and he’ll get labeled a troublemaker. I worry he will learn to dislike himself which up until this point is not something he has felt. I worry he will feel “different.”
Maybe someday he will read this. But right now he knows NONE of this. He is just so very excited to be a big kid and start school. He’s so excited to put his Bentgo Box in his Octonauts lunch box and meet new friends. And it’s my job to make sure he keeps feeling excited. But how do I do that when I’m not there? Up until now I’ve always been around to help him navigate situations and now he has to learn to do it on his own.
In some ways each step in his life has felt like this. As soon as my husband cut the umbilical cord D started to learn to not need me. He had to learn to breathe on his own, to regulate his temperature on his own, to process his own nutrition. And none of this came easy to him. So I worry.
I think teacher-parents may worry more. And teachers with special needs children KNOW what could possibly be ahead. I want so badly to save him from that but I simultaneously know that the struggle- his struggle- must be a part of his journey. As humans we are forged in fire and under great amounts of pressure. It’s the only way to make a diamond. And D has SO much sparkle.
So while I will always worry I know it is time. And like every other challenge he has faced he will attack it with a sense of bravery and abandon I have never possessed. My little firecracker is ready. May the world be ready for him, too.