I haven’t updated in close to a month and that’s really far too long. Quite a bit has happened and we’ve had some new and exciting beginnings!
First, on August 30th our Will turned THREE! It’s taking me a while to actually believe he is now a preschooler but he is and he couldn’t be more excited about it. Having a late August birthday makes starting activities and school a little trickier because he will either be one of the very youngest or one of the very oldest. After weighing the pros and cons of both we decided to place him in the 2-3 year preschool program at a little church down the street. It is a one day a week class and Will absolutely loves it! He’s in a classroom with 3 of his friends and he is one of the oldest in the class. A regular morning (which is 2.5 hours) consists of play time, story time, guided areas, songs, and snack time. When school is over, the parents meet the kids at the door and I’m always greeted with a smiling Will who proudly hands me his “to-go” folder with art. When we go home the art is promptly tacked up on our sliding door for all to see. He’s officially a big kid now!
His next big activity is a gymnastics class. Will is one of the youngest kids in this class but he loves it! The class is great because they work with what three year olds love like running, jumping, dancing, somersaulting, and more. It’s also a pretty structured class and the teacher is sure to keep them on task. There are a lot of multiple directives, stations, and steps that help the kids focus while playing at the same time. I’m pretty impressed with the program but more impressed with the teachers that can wrangle a group of small children for close to a whole hour!
My goals for Will in preschool and gymnastics are to learn to play in groups, take direction from adults other than Andrew or I, and learn and grow in his own way AWAY from me. Most importantly though, I want him to have fun! If I were being honest, and I am, I have to say that I’ve had a little bit of a hard time letting go of the reigns. He’s only really ever been with me during the day. I was the one to be responsible for his schedule and social life and now I’m not the one to do it all of the time. It’s a hard thing to just hand your kid over to someone you don’t know and not know what’s going on. I often wonder if he’s behaving himself? Do his teachers see what a great kid he is like I do? Am I missing any developmental red flags that they’ll blindside me with? Is he on track? Am I being overbearing? Is he having FUN?!
It’s funny, if I was not a parent of a profoundly disabled child, I’m not sure so many anxieties would run through my mind. With Paige, we knew something was off in her early months but the actual diagnosis felt like we were hit by a bus that we didn’t see coming. I guess a lot of my fears with Will going to school and the vulnerabilities of other people “analyzing” my child kick my senses into overdrive and I fear the worst. A fear that I’m going to be told something is wrong with my typical child. I honestly never thought about how Paige’s Lissencephaly diagnosis might affect how I parent my other child and I’m learning that parenting the two have to be completely different. Because THEY are completely different.
Someone put to me like this. As a mother, I have a toolbox I use for my children. When Paige was developmentally delayed and we tried to reach for answers, I had to use a hammer to get them. My hammer was nagging doctors, doing personal research, and basically demanding an answer as to why Paige wasn’t acting like a typical baby her age. We KNEW something was off and we pounded away and got validation in the form of her diagnosis. I had to use the hammer because she needed me to advocate for her in that way. In Will’s case, I’m having trouble putting my hammer away. If I get a school report that he’s not playing with other kids or not sticking to a play area the designated time, my emotions go to CODE RED! If he doesn’t follow the exact procedure or goes astray, I feel the need to bring out my hammer again. In my head, I go back to the way I felt with Paige. I think because something doesn’t go completely “on course” something must be wrong. In my head, if Will doesn’t do something he’s supposed to, there must be a reason for it and I want validation.
The only difference is… Will doesn’t need me to advocate for him the way Paige needs me to. What he is doing is perfectly normal for a child his age to do. He’s developmentally appropriate for a typical three year old and, bottom line, he doesn’t need me to use the hammer. He needs me in a different way. He needs me to not expect perfection because nobody is and I’m far from it, myself. He needs me to trust that his father and I have prepared him for a setting that doesn’t include us. He needs me to trust that he’ll be fine! Mostly, he needs me to be his support and biggest darn cheerleader in the world. I know my kid. I know he’s fun-loving, smart, active, curious, hilarious, affectionate, inquisitive, and an absolute joy. He’s got the best qualities and I have to let go of my fears that the other shoe is going to drop. For the past year, we’ve gotten used to and accepted that Paige is on her own path and unlike any other’s. What I’m now finding is that navigating my typical child’s growth isn’t in the same world. BUT.. I’m getting there!
I wonder if any other family has felt this way?
In other news, Paige is showing growing leaps and bounds in her own development! She is putting more pressure on her legs, playing with toys in both hands, and even starting to feed herself with a spoon! She’s continually happy and is the most easygoing kid. She’s incredible!