Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back to whaaaaaaaaaaaat? Already? School.

Deep breath in... and exhale.

Ready or not - here we go, again.

Back to school.

New shoes are laced up, new back packs are filled with new pencils, paper and supplies, new gym clothes are washed and ready, new clothes are laid out.. in every sense of the word we are ready.

The kids are beyond excited, Parker is ready to return to the routine of the school day and Allison loves school plus has her BFF is 7 out of 10 of her classes each day.  There is an excitement between them to start their 10th and 6th grade school years.

As their mom, I have my "this is going to be awesome" routine down.  It's my job and, God knows, it's my wish that this be the most awesome year to date.  I've done all I can to start it off that way.

Raising children with special needs takes a little bit away from the go with the flow.  There has been planning, outreach and IEP re-writes since last Spring and over the last couple of weeks to ensure this year is ready and better than the last.  All I can do now is hold my breath... and pray.  Pray that the planning has paid off.  Pray that each year that has led up to this one will have made a difference.  Pray that this will be a wonderful school year.

You see I'm not that mom counting down the hours until I can send my kids to school.  I like having them here. I like knowing they are safe. I like knowing they are happy. I like knowing I can keep them protected and smothered in love.  I'd keep them here every day forever if I could.  (Minus the days I could send them to Grandma and Grandpa's house because let's face it - my sanity is important too!).

The start of each new school year is intimidating for everyone, I am sure.  It's a little more intimidating to special needs parents.  You send your kids to school with new crayons and paper... we send our kids with detailed Positive Student Profile's and binders of "how to's" for our teams.  Yes teams.  Your child has a teacher, our children each have their own team.  A team of teachers, parapros, therapists, administrators, advocates... basically everyone and them some to cover all the basis.  And we meet on a regular basis to come together to help create a path for each child.

I'm fortunate that for Parker, who is now going to be a SOPHOMORE (insert me hyperventilating here) that his team will be consistent from now until graduation.  For Allison it will continue to grow and change - but, her needs are extremely minimal so there is less pressure there to educate the team to the degree I do for Parker. That doesn't mean I worry or prepare less for her though either.

School is scary.  While Parker has a para pro (one on one aid) with him throughout his day, there is that part of me that still worries - the "what if's" of the day.  Here's the thing...despite Parker's increased and improving language, there is still so much he simply cannot tell me.  It takes a boatload of trust in the world to ever let him out of my sight.  I have to, he needs it for his independence.  He's 15 and one day will be on his own.  I have to let him out of my sight.  That does not, for a single second, make it easy.  Each time the phone rings, my heart stands still in fear that something has happened to him.  I worry about him being bullied.  I worry about him not having friends.  I worry about making the right decisions for him - because those are on me.  Picking his classes, lining up events, picking out clothes... so many details of Parker's life is all on me.  No pressure there at all.

The truth is Parker thrives at school.  He loves being at the high school, he has a phenomenal team.  He's had the very best teachers, para pros and therapists  working with him over the years to get him to where he is now - and that's a pretty good place.  It doesn't remove an ounce of my worry.

Allison struggled last year with her transition to Middle School.  Her circle of friends was split up she was very much alone.  Her anxiety rose to new levels and, for the first time, she struggled both socially and academically.  It was not her best year - or even close.  She finished the year off beautifully, pulling her grades up to all A's and B's and quickly jetted off for 10 days of horse back riding at the end of the school year to find her balance again in life.

While she's more than ready to take on 6th grade with her BFF by her side, her anxiety continues to show itself in new situations and more openly.  Her fist clenching by her face with slightly flapping hands has become a part of our every day as we lead up to school starting.  It's a reaction beyond her control and coping mechanism for her.  While her friends get it, others do not and it caused a lot of tears last year as she was made fun of for it.

Her body is growing faster than we can keep up with, standing at 5'2 she is in few ways my baby girl but very much a beautiful young lady.  It's hard to believe at 12 she is so grown up ... that will bring it's own challenges.

I'm just not ready.  I wasn't ready when they started kindergarten and I'm not ready now.  Time goes too fast.  I'm happy with the late nights with Allison and early mornings with Parker.  I'm happy with going back to bed until I have to go to work without hustling to get everyone fed, dressed and dropped off.  I'm happy with friends coming to swim and play where I know everything is good.  I'm happy.


I'm also still going to send them back.  I'm extremely thankful for so many amazing teacher, parapros and therapists who work so closely with my children.  I am thankful for their friends and for their friends' families who love them as their own.  I am thankful... and I guess ready to get this school year started.  Mostly because I don't have any other choice ;-)

Wishing everyone the most wonderful school year ever!

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