If you know me well enough or follow this blog at all, you'd know that my son, Judah, spent two years in a mainstream kindergarten class. We really felt like that extra year gave him the solid academic foundation he needed. Overall we are very pleased with the progress he made and felt like he was ready to move on to a mainstream first grade class. Is he at the same academic level as his classmates? Absolutely not, but he is well adjusted to the school environment and loves the feeling of independence.
He started first grade this week. He moved up with his second year kinder class, so he's mostly familiar with his classmates. My baby (his little sister), Aveline, started kindergarten this week as well. The problem I am having with the whole deal is that he is no longer next door to me, he's all the way on the other side of the school campus. This was an extremely difficult transition for me, but one I knew we all needed to do for Judah's sake. I firmly believe it is the best move for him. Thankfully, I have Aveline next to me now; but she's so independent and social that I won't have to worry about her at all.
At the end of last school year Judah had gotten fairly comfortable with wandering over to my room on far too many occasions. Of course I allowed it because let's face it, I'd be his teacher if I could. I want him with me every second of the day. It's just not what's best for him. So I decided to start this year letting him go completely. To my surprise, he took right to it and loved going off on his own.
On the first day, he knew exactly what to do and where to go. I left him alone and didn't even peek in on him the whole day. Of course there were some issues with his behavior in the classroom and I've had to give his teacher some suggestions and ideas on how to teach, encourage, and discipline Judah. I expected that. What I didn't expect was how easily Judah let ME go. After lunch on the first day he was confused about which playground to go to for recess so he made his way to the kinder playground where he had gone for the past two years. I quickly redirected him and told him where to go. Once it clicked in his mind what he needed to do he said "BYE DA-EE! LUH YOU!", turned around and took off. I happened to snap a picture of him as he darted away....
This was the most difficult experience for me so far with him. I choked up and through swallowed tears I said: "Bye buddy! Be a good boy! I love you too!"
That moment is what all of the hard work has been about! It is so easy to baby our special little guys and shield them from the harsh reality that is society. They are people first, and the more we treat them like a person and not their disability, the more progress we will see. It's very hard to let go, but I'm still at the same school, and I've got my baby girl next to me this year.
My little shadow is growing and slowly learning to navigate a small part of life without me. Unfortunately, just like Peter Pan, I can't just sew my shadow back on. He needs his independence. He deserves it. They all do.
I love you pal!
EVERY SINGLE THING I HAVE WORKED SO HARD FOR HAS BEEN FOR YOU!