One Hour That Changed Everything

November 3, 2008

Just before noon today we walked into our local elementary school, and when we walked out just over an hour later, everything had changed.  And PJ had no idea.

It was his official ARD with the school district, the meeting that officially kicks off his participation in the special education program.  As I’ve mentioned before, I already knew he was going to qualify.  What I didn’t realize is exactly what that meant for our daily schedule.

They recommended that PJ join their special preschool program that runs every afternoon from 12:45-3:45.  Yes, every afternoon.  While I am at liberty to decline their suggestion, it means that PJ will not be getting the help he needs.  I accepted, while fighting back tears over everything we will have to give up, everything that will change.

For one, MDO is over.  The class that he loves so much and asks for every day–he will never go back to it.  The new school starts on Wednesday and there is no MDO tomorrow, so he will not even get a chance to say good-bye.  Those picture proofs we have sitting on our counter that we were going to officially order on Thursday will never materialize into real pictures.  Those connections I’ve finally started making with the other moms will disintegrate.  (Yes, I know it’s selfish, but I’m disappointed for me as much as PJ.)

Another change will be PJ’s naptime.  He depends on a good afternoon nap and is unbearable without it, or even just has it delayed.  I do not envy his teachers for the first few weeks when they keep him from sleeping until after he gets home after 4:00.  I’m afraid this will spell the end of his afternoon nap altogether, and I don’t like that thought.

Then there’s the bus issue.  Because the program is through the school district, they are required to supply transportation.  For the first time in his life, PJ will be riding a bus.  Oh, not just any bus–the short bus.  My child’s life will be in the hands of some driver I’ve never met before.  If I was scared enough letting my mom or in-laws drive him around when I wasn’t in the car, you can imagine I’m terrified about this whole bus thing.  Yes, it’s easier on me than driving him myself, but I hate that I’m sending him off into the unknown on Wednesday without ever seeing his classroom or anything.

Didn’t I just do the whole first-day-of-school thing?  How can it already be time to go through that again?  Why do I have to rip him away from the class he knows and loves to send him to “real school?”  I know he’ll grow to love it too, and it’s best for him educationally, but it still makes me sad.  I liked knowing he was going to school in a place where God was a daily topic, where my little boy learned to ask for Bible stories before naps, where he learned that church can be fun.  Now he’ll be in a school where the teachers are forbidden to even mention the topic.

All of this focus on the changes we have in front of us, even the simple inconsequential things, are much easier than focusing on the real problem–that my baby boy is in special ed.  It’s easier than letting myself wonder if there was anything I could have done differently before now that could have prevented us from coming to this point.  I’d rather mourn never letting PJ see his MDO friends–or my never seeing their moms again–than mourn that last hope that my child could be normal.

Now excuse me while I go continue my pity party by myself.  By tomorrow I should be past this indulgent sadness and be ready to regale you with funny stories instead.