Friday, October 16, 2015

My School!

This is what Max cried when I pulled out of the primary school parking lot yesterday. "My school!"

Max's first day at preschool.
I was thrilled.

He wasn't crying-crying, there weren't any actual tears. He was too exhausted from his third day of preschool in a very stimulating classroom to wind up into any kind of tantrum. He might have just been accessing an emotional response appropriate for leaving a place and practicing with it.

I don't care about any of that. I'm just glad he said something spontaneous. I'm glad he talked at all. And I am more than grateful that school quickly has become a place he enjoys.

It's been a rough journey these last several months, discovering that Max has a speech delay and perhaps a few sensory issues. His development was cruising right along, his vocabulary was growing, and his academic learning was way ahead.

At 3 years old he can sing the ABCs, correctly identify the sounds each letter makes, and even list a few words here and there that begin with those sounds. He asks me to make crescents and trapezoids when we play shapes with a rubber band, and he is about one letter away from cracking my password on the Kindle to download more apps.

But tell me what he did at school? Say what he is thinking? Communicate in sentences that aren't first given to him for parroting? Nope, not yet.

These last few months have been a confusing and often depressing journey, but the light at the end of the tunnel is glowing brighter. Actually, it's really illuminating several more tunnels, and we still have to evaluate and explore and outright guess which one is Max's best chance at being his full and authentic self. But at least we've figured out how to drive the freaking train.

Paperwork for anything having to do with school or a state board or a child's brain development is an endless stapled packet. Four different packets are really the same one just in slightly different wording or order. We all know just how much I like filling out paperwork.

But now it's an outright battle. Paperwork is just one more tactic that I'm willing to employ to get Max the help he needs to unlock speech and let all of the learning and behavior skills fall into place. I'm willing to drive to a different city to get him the best therapy. I'm willing to be what I never thought I would be: a parent who drives her kid to and from school.

I dutifully stand in the parent waiting area, the vortex of possible friendship and probable judgment. I willingly hand over my little love to other people who don't let me past the buzzer-locked double doors. I scour the little half sheet of paper that reports what he did in school that day as an attempt to have a conversation with him about it.

Happily, three days of this have yielded more results than the previous three months. My stress level has plummeted with just a few hours a day completely belonging to me, when I can actually schedule appointments or clean the house or get some grocery shopping done (which increasingly has become a screamfest when I have to drag along Max). We're all benefiting from a routine.

Max sweetly feels some ownership of this new place, this school with new toys and new playgrounds and new friends. I am feeling the same gratitude for it.

My school! My chance! My relief.