I thought I was ready for this. I really did. My kid has been going to "school" of sorts since she was three. She was enrolled in preschool for two years and then Georgia pre-K for a year, and our pre-K program is just like what kindergarten was for me when I was little. Very academic and structured (and fun!).
We've had IEP meetings for three years, we've dealt with people getting used to her walker and talker, we've dealt with uncooperative people and warm and wonderful people.
But yesterday at a welcome back social, I started to realize how not ready I am.
My daughter starts kindergarten on Thursday, August 1. (Yes, we start a bit early. We're on a 6-week-on 1-week-off schedule, so by September we already have a vacation. I do not love this cycle nor schedule but it is what it is and I love our school system so this is something that I have to accept.)
Brand new school. Brand new teachers, staff, paras, therapists. A new building with stairs to navigate (and an elevator - and she did fine on the stairs when she went with classmates for a no-parents-allowed school tour, but still). A new schedule. A new everything. Starting from scratch.
Did the new teacher read her IEP yet?
Did the staff set up a meeting with the rep from the talker company yet?
Is there a new physical therapist all set and ready to go?
Who will carry her talker?
Who will make sure she gets her special (IEP-mandated) mid-morning snack?
How exactly will she get to that tricky inaccessible-until-you're-on-it playground?
Will they understand just how smart she is and let her express that while also managing her outbursts?
Will there be someone to explain to this entire population of children that my daughter is both different and the same?
What if a third grader pushes her in the hall? What if a new classmate makes fun of how she talks? (Luckily she is in not only an inclusion class but also a class with four or five kids who have known her since she started preschool. I can only hope that they will help normalize a little girl with a green walker and talker.)
What if she cries? What if she has an accident? What if what if what if?
Eventually I will have to let go. (Eventually means Friday, I have a feeling.) We live so close to the school that I can see it out my window, and I'm not sure how I will manage the desire to run over at lunchtime to check on her. The obsessive checking of my phone to make sure nobody has called. The worrying.
Don't get me wrong. I am excited and thrilled and over the moon that my daughter is starting kindergarten. She's going to learn so many new things and make so many new friends. She's a really resilient kid, and she's incredibly friendly and funny and she has a way of charming everyone around her. Within days of starting summer camp she had the entire group wrapped around her finger (we walked in one day to her holding court at a table, cracking jokes with her talker while the kids listened and laughed).
All of her final pre-K progress reports indicated that she's essentially at the academic level she should be to enter kindergarten.
Every day she says (verbally or with her talker or signs or a combination of all three) some variation of "School? Tomorrow?"
I've updated her talker with her new teacher's name.
I may not be ready but I am fairly certain that she is.
It's going to be fine.
I won't cry that morning at the welcome breakfast for parents. I don't think...
Brief update 8/2/13: The first day of school went REALLY well! I didn't cry that much! I'm excited for the new year, and I'll have a post about everything new and exciting next week.