The Bus to Kindergarten is Coming . . .

As an educator, the approach of August means the end of summer vacation is near. No more stress-free days of not thinking about IEP’s, accommodations, lesson plans, or differentiation.

However, as an educator and a mom of children with special needs, those thoughts never leave me. I do not get to take a summer vacation away from the reality of speech, occupational, and physical therapy. I do however, get to take a mini vacation away from daily feedback reports and emails while they are not in an extended school year program. Those weeks we even try to take a vacation away from therapy and just be a family.

My friends and family who do not have children with special needs think I am crazy when I gladly tell them we are staying home and hanging out. At this point in the summer, they are tired of having the kids home and cannot wait until they go back to school. They do not realize that just staying home and just hanging out is something out of the normal for us.

It is sad, but sometimes my children do not understand what hanging out is. My daughter will ask with a puzzled look on her face and when I say we are just going to stay home, she is perplexed. Then the questions start; you mean no school work today? No speech class? No swim (aquatic therapy for OT/PT)? What are we going to do? Although I have to stick to some sort of a schedule to ensure meltdowns and anxiety are not induced, it’s more of a care free schedule. Those days my kids just get to be kids.

As the days, hours, and minutes inch closer to August 28th, my anxiety kicks in. The constant worry and thoughts start swarming my head like angry bees in a bee’s nest. Most educators start thinking about how they will set up their classroom, the first day of school, and their class lists, but I do not even have time to worry about that anymore. My worry lies in the constant “What if?” surrounding my children. What if Jack doesn’t get the speech services he so desperately needs? What if he hates school even more? Oh my God, they’re both going into kindergarten?! How did this happen so fast? Are they ready? Am I ready for this?

As I think about the start of kindergarten, I keep thinking about the days Jack and Paige were in the NICU. Born at 32 weeks, they had an extended hospital stay and their temporary home was an incubator in the NICU. Every day I left I would cry for multiple reasons. I remember on many occasions one nurse in particular would put her hand on my arm and tell me the bus for kindergarten doesn’t stop here. They will be home soon. Fast forward almost six years and the bus to kindergarten is coming, but I’m not ready.

The future can be scary as it is filled with many unknowns. I have my moments filled with worry, but I am also hopeful that this will be a good change for Jack. Paige cannot wait to start kindergarten while Jack couldn’t care less. I will remain hopeful that Jack will have a much more positive school experience than he has had the past three years. When August 28th arrives, I will hold my breath and fight back the tears as they get on the bus for kindergarten, while other parents rejoice the start of school year.

I will get through this new chapter entitled “kindergarten” because as special needs parents all we can do is hope for the best, expect the worst, and handle the reality the best way we can.

 

Patty Miller currently serves as the Volunteer Outreach Coordinator in Connecticut. You can join the local Connecticut community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/apraxiakidsconnecticut/ or contact Patty directly at pattym@apraxia-kids.org

As an educator, the approach of August means the end of summer vacation is near. No more stress-free days of not thinking about IEP’s, accommodations, lesson plans, or differentiation.

However, as an educator and a mom of children with special needs, those thoughts never leave me. I do not get to take a summer vacation away from the reality of speech, occupational, and physical therapy. I do however, get to take a mini vacation away from daily feedback reports and emails while they are not in an extended school year program. Those weeks we even try to take a vacation away from therapy and just be a family.

My friends and family who do not have children with special needs think I am crazy when I gladly tell them we are staying home and hanging out. At this point in the summer, they are tired of having the kids home and cannot wait until they go back to school. They do not realize that just staying home and just hanging out is something out of the normal for us.

It is sad, but sometimes my children do not understand what hanging out is. My daughter will ask with a puzzled look on her face and when I say we are just going to stay home, she is perplexed. Then the questions start; you mean no school work today? No speech class? No swim (aquatic therapy for OT/PT)? What are we going to do? Although I have to stick to some sort of a schedule to ensure meltdowns and anxiety are not induced, it’s more of a care free schedule. Those days my kids just get to be kids.

As the days, hours, and minutes inch closer to August 28th, my anxiety kicks in. The constant worry and thoughts start swarming my head like angry bees in a bee’s nest. Most educators start thinking about how they will set up their classroom, the first day of school, and their class lists, but I do not even have time to worry about that anymore. My worry lies in the constant “What if?” surrounding my children. What if Jack doesn’t get the speech services he so desperately needs? What if he hates school even more? Oh my God, they’re both going into kindergarten?! How did this happen so fast? Are they ready? Am I ready for this?

As I think about the start of kindergarten, I keep thinking about the days Jack and Paige were in the NICU. Born at 32 weeks, they had an extended hospital stay and their temporary home was an incubator in the NICU. Every day I left I would cry for multiple reasons. I remember on many occasions one nurse in particular would put her hand on my arm and tell me the bus for kindergarten doesn’t stop here. They will be home soon. Fast forward almost six years and the bus to kindergarten is coming, but I’m not ready.

The future can be scary as it is filled with many unknowns. I have my moments filled with worry, but I am also hopeful that this will be a good change for Jack. Paige cannot wait to start kindergarten while Jack couldn’t care less. I will remain hopeful that Jack will have a much more positive school experience than he has had the past three years. When August 28th arrives, I will hold my breath and fight back the tears as they get on the bus for kindergarten, while other parents rejoice the start of school year.

I will get through this new chapter entitled “kindergarten” because as special needs parents all we can do is hope for the best, expect the worst, and handle the reality the best way we can.

 

Patty Miller currently serves as the Volunteer Outreach Coordinator in Connecticut. You can join the local Connecticut community on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/apraxiakidsconnecticut/ or contact Patty directly at pattym@apraxia-kids.org



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