Tomorrow is the day my baby, the last one, starts kindergarten. I think I’ve been able to hold it together for the most part. Well, until his Meet and Greet this morning anyway.
Jedidiah made the comment this morning that with Madeleine, we knew she was ready. She was reading and writing. We couldn’t keep a book out of her hands. Her vocabulary at five years old was enormous. She read at a 4th grade level. It made sense. This kid needed to be in school soon because we weren’t going to be able to keep up with her. But with Max, we still think of him as little. Our baby. How can he possibly be ready for big kid school?
My trepidation has only a little to do with the fact that Max is the baby of the family, he also has a speech disorder. When Max was three, he was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. He wasn’t supposed to talk. “Start learning sign language,” the speech therapist told me. I was devastated. Yet this amazing little boy overcame all the odds, and 1 1/2 ago he began speaking. Since then, his progress has been “off the charts”, and although he can be difficult to understand, we cannot get him to stop talking. So every day I’ll pray he keeps talking.
He is resilient. I know this. I have watched this for the last few years. Yet despite his progress I worry. I worry reading will be hard. I worry writing will be hard. I worry that making friends will be hard. I worry success will come in small bursts after long periods of failure. So every day I’ll pray for the small successes that keep him going.
Max is lucky. His teacher is a good friend of mine. Like me, she loves working with students on IEPs. She’ll follow his accommodations, support him when he needs it, and find creative ways of helping him access the curriculum when it becomes difficult. She’s a wonderful teacher, and if you knew the circumstances, it’s nothing short of a miracle that she is his teacher. But I also know this won’t always be the case. I hear teachers complain about following IEPs. “I don’t have time to get this kid notes. What is he going to do in college? He needs to learn how on his own.” My heart sinks when I hear statements like these. I know it’s hard to help every student, but I also know what that support means to a student and that student’s parent. So every year I’ll pray he wins the teacher “lottery.”
I worry that making friends will be difficult for him because of his speech. I worry that others won’t listen because they don’t want to put forth effort to understand. I worry that he will be called “baby” or “stupid” because it takes him longer to grasp concepts or speak his mind. I worry he’ll be left out because he’s different, and kids can be cruel. So every day I’ll pray he makes a friend that will stand by him and stick up for him. I’ll pray that someone will understand him.
So, yeah, letting my baby go to school is scary, but I can’t hold on. I have to let him go, and I’ll hope and pray that each day will create a series of successes that build his confidence and create a young man of character because that’s what’s important. That’s what I want for my little man. My Max. “The Greatest.”