Thursday, September 6, 2012

Maggie Starts Kindergarten!

Its been a good while since I've posted anything other than various kid quotes or quick situations on my facebook page. If you've been reading those, I'm glad you've enjoyed them. My lack of posts certainly hasn't been due to lack of things to say, but rather, the time to say them properly. This last little while has been hard. Lots of changes throwing the girls for  loops and my exhaustion level so high that I really didn't feel like writing.

But today, is the start of something new. Today is Maggie's first day of public school. My little kindergartener shuffled off with excited hops, bobs and random squeals to her first day of being "a big girl". Months of prep, for her to be ready to go, and for the school to be ready to recieve and accomodate her needs, are put to the ultimate test today.

The school has had two years to get used to Winnie's nuances, and they were excited at the prospect of Maggie joining the ranks. Putting them on their guard was an interesting task - because with Maggie and Winnie, the old saying familiar to those in the autism field comes into play... "if you've met one child with autism, you've met ONE child with autism." - because Maggie is completely the opposite. Everything they used to deal with and help Winnie in her learning, will in no way be applicable to how they help Maggie learn and adapt to the school environment. Although they've been cautioned, warned and educated on this - today, they'll see it first hand.

I remember when the girls were babies and imagining what it would be like when they went to school. I remember dreaming that I wave as they got on the bus and sat down, then slumped back to bed with a smile to catch some extra hours of much needed sleep. I could never have imagined that I'd have to hold hand so tightly so that my kids wouldn't bolt in excitement as the bus arrived, or hop on the bus to buckle my rambuncious 5 year old, unable to sit still on her own, into a 5 point harness in the front seat, or that I'd sit here, on pins and needles waiting for the phone to ring, praying that everything goes well and they come home safely.

As Maggie smiled up at me, and Winnie did her best to coddle her little sister on her new adventure, and show her all the things that she enjoyed about the bus, I burst with pride. Look at them go! They're so amazing! They've come so far!

I drove to the school after setting them on the bus, just to reassure myself that everything went smoothly and the school was prepared. Its days like this, the big days that are big for everyone, that I tend to be more glad that my kids are special. Not that all kids aren't special, but my kids have "the label" that no one wants to give. I like that people understand that my kids may not "get" what's going on - they may need things explicitly explained, they need an extra eye to make sure they don't wander and they just need... more. Because they need more, I need more. I like knowing all the people involved in their day. I like that they know me. I like when they explain things, and I love when they ask questions.

And, oddly enough, I like that my kids are special together - that they understand one another and, although they can sometimes use this knowledge to annoy eachother, they can also use it to comfort and help. As Maggie hopped into the school, always in direct contact with her EA, happy and bubbly - and Winnie, reassuring me that all would be fine as I waved them inside on their first full day together in school - I breathed a sigh of relief that the day started well. I need this breath before the edge of anxiety creeps back up to claw at me as I wait to hear how their day went.

I've done all I can to prepare everyone. I have confidence that all will be well, but anxiety over the actual outcome. But I know, they need this. They can do this. I can do this. Just Breathe.