Sometimes Being Special SUCKS.

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Yup, I just used the word “sucks” in a blog post.  It’s a first.  Please don’t unfollow me.

As you know, my daughter is “special.”  She’s special in that she has a certain magnetic quality people seem to notice right away.  But she’s also special because of the way she came into this world, and although the journey has been rocky we are usually extremely positive about the whole thing– not only did she make it, she is thriving.

Except when you’ve been so upbeat about everything, and tried to be as normal as possible– and things just fall apart.  Like when you go to Sesame Place and you only get on three rides, one of which she christens with her reflux.  Or go to the pumpkin patch, and yup– christens that, too.  I won’t even get into what happened at the zoo.  Actually I will, but not in this post.

Our latest disappointment came with preschool.  With the encouragement of her Early Intervention team we enrolled her to start in September at a wonderful school a few minutes away.  I filled out two hours worth of paperwork.  I filled her bookbag with the items on the supply list.  We attended orientation.  She would go for two hours a day, twice a week, but those four hours were going to be treasures for the both of us.

here she is on the way to her first day of school…

…and being picked up two hours later.  Note the tear in her eye and tell-tale red reflux eyebrows.

The first day went well.  Some tears, one puke, but she made it!  Day #2 was TERRIBLE.  She apparently cried violently from the moment we dropped her off until she finally fell asleep during activity time.  She woke up in time to go outside, and cried when they came in until I picked her up.  She threw up 6 times that morning.  The school director and I came up with a plan for the next session: we arrived late after all the other kids were settled and I stayed out of sight but still in the building.   As I stood outside the door listening, I heard my baby in a sheer panic.  She threw up four times in 20 minutes.  We both had enough– with the school’s blessing, I took her home.

Should we continue to try?  Should we give up?  Her fate was sealed when we stopped by during the annual Oktoberfest and took her to visit the classroom.  We thought with no one there it would be the perfect time to have her play with the toys and have a positive experience.

She was a mess, crying uncontrollably despite being the only ones in the room.

Enough was enough.  We withdrew her from school.

In a summer of striving for normalcy but only encountering disappointment, I cried for the first time in months as I wrote an email to the teacher thanking her for her time.

I just want to be normal for once.  I want to go somewhere without carrying a burp cloth and worrying about puke.  I want her to eat normal food and not be tied to our house each mealtime.  I want her to go to SCHOOL, and meet other kids and play and learn.  I’m so sad.

After I had a good cry, I was ready to move on.  As my friend Jenny quotes (I’m pretty sure it’s from the book “Free to Be You and Me”), it’s okay to cry because it gets the sad out.  Once the sad was out I decided I would set up preschool at home for the year.  After all, I was a teacher in a former life so that comes pretty naturally to me.  I practically have a small bookstore in my home with all the books I own, and bin after bin of supplies just waiting to be used.  I’ll save $176 a month by not sending her to school, and since I have all the supplies schooling her at home will be free.  That money can go toward savings for college {eventually she’ll stop puking, right?}, a gym membership so I can still get some “me” time, and a class for Noodle that doesn’t involve dropping her off– like swim lessons or a music class.

On Monday, out came the bulletin board and markers.  This week’s themes are apples and the color red.  Weather Bear is dressed in his rain coat because it’s been pretty sloppy here in PA so far this week.  Gail Gibbon’s book Apples is ready to be read, and at the grocery store we looked at various types of the fruit.  Noodle loves apples; it was the perfect start.

I’ll try to share teaching ideas as I come up with them, just in case you have a toddler at home and are interested in adding in an educational element to your day.  On the flip side, I’d love to hear ideas or sites that inspire you to teach and learn.

Here we are, making lemonade again while we wait a year to try the school thing again.  Sometimes being special just sucks, and sometimes it’s a road that leads to other things.  Time will tell whether this experience is another notch in my “things that aren’t fair” belt or a road to something better.

Now excuse me while I go nosh on one of the seven apples we bought today…

… it’s all in the name of education, after all.  {wink}

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12 Comments

  1. So sorry for Noodle’s (and your) horrible school experience! I understand how important it is to feel normal after overcoming such difficult obstacles. She’ll get better with time, and until then she has the best teacher ever – YOU! I’m looking forward to reading some of your preschooling ideas for home!

  2. You know those teenagers that chime in on my blog’s projects? The two boys are autistic. The oldest graduated high school with straight A’s and is in college. The 17 year old still talks like Elmer Fudd, but he designs video games, runs his own website, and he’ll be graduating with honors this year too; not bad considering I was told he’d never speak or be potty trained when he was 3.

    I like to say my boys aren’t challenged, I am. Special needs kids are limited only by method, not result. Don’t give up, don’t think you’re alone, and don’t think for a moment everything isn’t going to get easier. It is.

  3. On a side note, I could totally eat your children, they’re simply scrumptious!

  4. As a parent that must be super tough…and as a preschool teacher I have seen this before its disappointing for the parent, child, and the teacher. Just remember some children are to young to start school and need that extra year at home. You are an awesome mom, and its wonderful that you are starting school at home, how fun and what a great experience. And lucky that the web has tons of great blogs about toddler preschools. Good luck, Be Blessed, and Stayed Blessed. 🙂

  5. I’m sorry you and Noddle had such a hard experience but maybe waiting a year is just what she needs. Plus you teaching her at home is a wonderful gift you’re giving her. On a side note, how do you like EI? I’m an EI Service Coordinator.

  6. All three of my girls never attended preschool.When I was little(I’m 40) my mom and grandma taught me my colors and ABCs.How to count was learned in the grocery store.As I got older the store was also how to learn adding,subtracting and difference in price amoung other things.Same things I did with mine.Hold your head up girl.You guys are great.

  7. My oldest daughter had panic attacks when we tried enrolling her into school the first handful of times. She would cry until she threw up and couldn’t catch her breath. (I know that this isn’t the same as Noodle’s situation) We decided that it wasn’t the right time, and I taught her at home for both pre k and kinder. She was very happy to start 1st grade, and I received so many compliments from her teacher about how much knew. There are TONS of wonderful resources out there now so don’t worry about a thing, YOU’LL DO GREAT! As you know teaching is a fantastic thing, and it’s even better when it’s your own little ball of playdough your molding.:)

  8. Your story is such an inspiration. You are so blessed. Thanks for your blog. Hang in there, just remember they won’t be little forever and some day we’ll wish for these days back. I totally understand wanting to get to that milestone of going to preschool, but she’ll get there:)

  9. Wow. That’s a lot to deal with on a day to day basis, but you’re such a strong woman and wonderful Mom – and Noodle is so blessed to have you. I loved the reality of this post – and love that you “got the sad out” and are moving on. Hang in there – you’re both doing great.

  10. It sounds like you have a wonderful outlook : ) That’s great. I am so sorry you had that terrible experience. She is just as cute as can be. I hope she will feel better soon.

    I am part of the Philly Social Mom’s Network as well. Nice to meet you : ) Have fun at Please Touch.

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