As I sat and carefully filled out Summer’s preschool enrollment/evaluation application from the CCIU I couldn’t help but to think, “I don’t want to” (Summer’s favorite run together saying). I wanted to wave my hands back and forth, which in Summer’s communication terms means, “all done.” I wanted to shred this packet and have a “confetti fit”. This packet filled with restricted questions and dry requests of “getting to know my child better.” How can I possibly put into words and explain my child in a way that will make you feel like “you know her better.” She has a spirit that can lighten your mood simply by her presence, has a laugh that is so contagious you can’t help but to laugh right along with her, she has a kindness and empathy towards others that most children her age do not show. Regardless of the lack of her verbal language; she is wise beyond her years, she is a very opinionated little girl, she knows exactly what she wants and if she does not get what it is she is seeking, she is a force to be reckoned with. They don’t ask questions like that though, their questions are more centered around behavior habits, scores, statistics and milestones. As a teacher myself I know those things are important. However, they do not make my child who she is and they do not symbolize her personality. I hope that when they meet my daughter and collect the information that they need through the evaluation process, that in the end they will also be interested in really getting to know her, the real her as well.
I thought we had more time, much more time. It feels like just yesterday we were meeting her early intervention therapists for the first time. Just as Charlie had three angels, Summer also has has three angels. They have been a part of our life for a little more than a year, but now they are like a part of our family. In two months, after what feels like such a short fourteen months, we will say goodbye to the early intervention program and her case will transition over to the Department of Education, who will fulfill the educational needs that she will need upon turning three. The time with early intervention went to fast. I really can’t believe I am filling out this packet! I’m not ready. I know for Summer’s sake I will need to be ready and of course, I will be ready. I always manage to wear my “I’m fine face” so well. That is the best way of convincing myself that I do “have what it takes” and that I truly am strong. Even if that little voice in my head is saying “I don’t want to.” everything I do, I do for her.
A new school, new teachers, new friends, new routines, new transitions, new, new, new! I feel like nothing will be the same afterwards! New means change. Change does not go over well for either Summer or I. We are working around the clock on our love hate relationship with change. We like our school, our teachers, our friends, and our routine! However, this change is inevitable and is not an option. Just when Summer gets comfortable with everything it is going to change. I hope she is ok…I hope that I will be ok. I’m so used to her being two doors down from my classroom. She has attended the daycare and preschool that I work at since this past July. We are both mutually comfortable with this arrangement and the thought of her not being two doors down, not in the same building, and twenty minutes away from me!? I can’t breathe. Where is my wine!?
Hence my title, “Preschool and Panic attacks. Who would have thought that something that one pictures as an exciting and joyous day, would be so hard, which makes me think again, “I don’t want to.”
Summer, who is for now, mostly nonverbal, has a medical diagnosis of Autism spectrum disorder, mixed receptive expressive language disorder and delayed milestones. She certainly doesn’t let any diagnosis they may give her, stop her! She loves life and she loves it fiercely! She loves adventure, the outdoors, and various activities such as; singing, dancing, and learning in a structured school setting. Will she continue to feel this way in her new three-year old preschool program? Will she successfully transition to this new school and routine? Will she bond with her new teachers the way she has bonded with her day care teachers and her early intervention therapists? I could go on for days…For now I will tell myself to breathe, don’t forget to breathe and sip my wine.
One thing that I am most certain of is the unconditional love that I feel for my daughter. I only want what is best for her, just as any parent does. I want for her to be given the same opportunities that every other child is given. I will always be behind her, supporting her, advocating for her, and fighting for the treatment every person and child deserves. I want her to be confident in herself, proud of who she is, and to know fully well, that her abilities have no limit. She is a spunky, beautiful, vivacious, curly-haired tornado and I never want anyone or anything to dull her sparkle! Like a diamond, my word does she shine! Shine on my wild child, shine on…