Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Last Day

There we were, witnessing the waning minutes of Ethan's last day of preschool, and for once I wasn't crying.

Well, okay, maybe I got a little teary when a group of second graders, looking tall and proud and ready to graduate to a new school next year, came out of the school cheering, their teacher clapping for them as they headed to their buses with huge grins on their faces. Just a little.

Inside the school there was the usual chaos magnified by the excitement of the kids finally being DONE. Three blizzard days, two hurricane days, and several other snow days meant school wasn't dismissing until June 24. These kiddos were more than ready.

Normally on last days I get emotional. No surprise. I tear up watching people say goodbye in airports or veterans marching in parades. But on this day, despite us saying goodbye to Ethan's wonderful teacher who is leaving to move away and get married next year, I just wasn't feeling the waterworks.

Maybe it was because, although Ethan is graduated from preschool and heading to kindergarten, he's actually not leaving his school. He'll be in the same place with primarily the same staff next year.

That was part of it, but more than anything, I think it's because, as we watched those kids rush down the halls, ready to break out and start summer, I couldn't help but think of how far we'd come since Ethan started school the day after he turned 3, more than 2 1/2 years ago.

He was in an ABA classroom, not in the preschool room.

He was verbal but not yet conversational. At school, he was much more quiet. Numbers of teachers asked me straight out, "Does he talk?"

I was worried about how they were going to get him to sit at the table or attend to a craft.

He was taking PT, OT and speech in addition to adaptive PE. In OT, I knew we had a looong way to go, when it came to writing skills.

He barely wanted to look at other children, nevermind talk or play with them.

The boy that came down the hall with his preschool teacher for the last time was a vastly different person. Any child changes immensely from ages 3 to 5, I think. With Ethan, the changes are just a bit more pronounced.

There he was, looking straight at me, telling me about his day.

There he was, giving his teacher a hug goodbye and calling out to friends.

There he was, no not "cured" by kindergarten but crawled out of his shell, showing us all the potential we knew was in there.

At home, I opened up the paper highlighting his progress on IEP goals. Ethan was a PT and adaptive PE graduate this year. His OT was reduced and his speech is primarily in the classroom setting and in the form of a twice weekly social skills group. On his progress report, nearly all of his OT goals were mastered (including writing letters!). His social goals were, as always, not mastered, but coming along. Slow but steady progress.

Kindergarten will present its own challenges. I know school will not be getting any easier. I know the social expectations will become more complex. I know it will most likely be hard sometimes.

But on this day, on this last day, I couldn't feel sad. Standing there in a hallway of a school I didn't think any of my kids would be attending, I couldn't help but feel we were in the right place for that moment.

I was grateful for people I'd gotten to know, for friendships made.

I was grateful for teachers who worked hard with limited resources, grateful for that feeling that they truly had my son's best interests at heart.

And despite a rocky start a few years ago, I was grateful for the principal, who despite not being the most warm and cuddly personality in the world, is trying. She's trying to understand the special needs kids on the spectrum have, and she's beginning to really listen to the special ed teachers who continue to tirelessly champion their cause. I can see the change.

Just nine weeks. Nine weeks and I'll have a kindergartener and a fourth grader. That's when I'll probably get weepy.

Now's the time to celebrate.


marion lyon said...

Anonymous said...

Celebrating with you, friend. Go Ethan!!!