Wow!!! It’s been over a month. Sorry about that. School holidays took their toll on my writing juices I’m afraid. In fact, the school holidays took their toll on everything about me! Sheesh! Meltdowns. Lack of routine, Occupational Therapy intensive holiday programs, charity work, paid work, launching businesses, being deemed inspiring by the lovely Heather James from Inspiring Mums: http://www.inspiringmums.com.au/interview_cj.html, Christmas, New Year, resolutions made (and of course since broken), meltdowns... did I say meltdowns?
Oh good grief! This time last year I sat down after dropping my beloved firstborn son at preschool after lovingly writing a special story for him so others could understand his needs, issues and more importantly his strengths and abilities rather than disability. I sat down and sobbed for the hole in my heart it left to leave him with strangers.
Those same strangers are now valued and adored honorary members of my family and more importantly J’s special friends as well as his preschool teachers. I thought I could never find another who would love my child the way I do or who could look out for him the way I do or understand him the way I do. Look, they probably don’t love him like I do or look out for him in the same way or even understand him the way I do. I’m his mum. No one is going to understand him the way I do. BUT!!! The teachers at his preschool have accepted him, they support him and they do love him and applaud his achievements. They tell me excitedly of new milestones and of the day’s activities and they make sure our family is embraced with open and welcoming arms.
They understand on the bad days and they cheer on the good days. I think the fact our family was so open about Jackson having special needs and even went to the extreme of placing his My Special Story for Special Kids book on the sign in desk for all to read helped us settle into the preschool better than if we had have kept it private. Being open really helped other parents understand Jackson was tricky but oh so much fun to get to know if you make the effort.
So anyway, I sat down and sobbed this time last year with a broken heart about my baby going off to preschool. After the school holidays from hell we just had with a child so clearly struggling to remain occupied and so clearly struggling to find a sense of security in a world of no routine and no preschool I think I went a bit mad. Honest. I went a bit loopy and stir crazy. I was stuck in this land of limbo where I couldn’t really take the kids out and about much because of the mammoth undertaking it is to manage them and their issues out in the world on my own but I also could not stand being stuck at home day after day after day during the seemingly endless holidays.
Soooo..... It’s with a little guilt I admit to wondering if it would be logistically possible yesterday on first day back at preschool to drive down to the gate, slow down enough to nearly be at a stop and fling J at the preschool with a cheery wave and a shout out of, “All yours!!! Thank God the holidays are over!”
I admit it with a touch of mother guilt but I do admit it. I was sooooooooooooo soooooooooooo sooooooooooo pleased to be able to spring out of bed (I don’t normally spring anywhere, especially out of bed) and sing a good morning song to the boys (I also do not regularly break into song) and announce it was preschool day!!!!!!! “Wooo Hooo.” The children were understandably quite puzzled by the spring in my step and newfound love for singing our morning routine and my own squeals of excitement when 8.30am rolled around which signaled time to hop in the car and go to preschool.
They were puzzled but sort of amused I think and drop off went quite well even though J was going into a new room with a new teacher with new adventures for the new year. It went pretty well I think because of the effort I put into making him a story all about returning to preschool with pictures of the new room, new teacher and new adventure possibilities so he was prepared. I’d also revamped his My Special Story Book for Special Kids with updated pictures of him and amended parts of the book like how he behaves in a meltdown or when anxious as all of those things had altered over the course of the previous year that were in his previous book.
I picked him up at 3pm, refreshed from a day of not hearing and seeing his obvious boredom with being at home and I asked him all the questions I usually ask and not often get an answer to because of his processing difficulties.
This is the moment I later realised he had matured and had progressed again whilst we were struggling through the holidays in spite of me thinking I was inadequate educational and developmental stimulation for his needs. I asked, “Did you have a good day today beautiful boy? Tell me about what you did.” Excited and loud response, “I had suuuch a great day and it was exciting and we read a story about trains and owls and sang about a starfish and I played chasings with Max and Cooper and played dress ups with Zoe and Sage and I put my hand up for Jacqui when she called J and I did painting and sandpit.”
Wow! Big response! Lots of words! Not that big a deal about the lots of words as Jackson is extremely high functioning and tends to out talk any kid whether typical or with Autism and could talk under water with a mouthful of marbles. What was a big deal is this... For a whole year, I’ve been relying on a piece of paper J’s teacher’s aide gives me at the end of each day called, “Today I...” Vicki (teacher’s aide) thoughtfully hands me a little rundown of the days activities written from J’s perspective about what he did that day and who he played with because this woman and the entire staff at the preschool have sensed my yearning to know that my baby is making friends, is accepted and is enjoying his day and feeling safe. Some day’s I’ve asked what he did and gotten a random response of nonsensical activities not listed on the “Today I” sheet and some days I’ve gotten no response as J has been too overstimulated and overloaded to respond to anything after a big day and some days I get one or two things he did and they are listed there on the sheet so I know he did do them like he said but he never really lists them in a typical way or in a clear way for others who do not understand his quirks to comprehend. I’ve had in the back of my head for some time that I may have to accept that I will never get a day of so called perfect or even logical recall from him and that I will simply not be included or invited into his day via this medium of conversation us neuro typicals love to engage in more so than those on the quirky spectrum.
I nodded and exclaimed it sounded like a fun day and thought to myself I must look at the “Today I” sheet and see if any of his listed activities were on there and have a look at what he actually did according to my trusty scribe Vicki.
I forgot to check it until this morning on day 2 of spritely springing about getting ready for preschool. I glanced over it and stopped springing around immediately. My heart leaped to my mouth and tears sprang up out of that silly springing mood I was in...
Remember what he said about his day......?
“I had suuuch a great day and it was exciting and we read a story about trains and owls and sang about a starfish and I played chasings with Max and Cooper and played dress ups with Zoe and Sage and I put my hand up for Jacqui when she called Jackson and I did painting and sandpit.”
It was all there in black and white on the “Today I” sheet. My baby had treated me to a little glimpse of a conversation all the “other parents” get to have with their kids. The conversations I was so envious of but had accepted were just not in our future and moved on to enjoy our own special bond and special way of understanding one another without the typical conversations.
It’s one of those moments I shall treasure forever. A little treat my baby gave me with no expectation and no prompting and no pressure.
It was just us having a chat after a “typical” day at preschool with his friends and teachers whom we both love.
Thank you J. xo