Advocating for My Loved One

Getting a child ready for their first day of school takes time.

Dreena Melea Tischler April 14, 2014
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The Captain first day 2012Well, the school year has started for us; I’m sure I will write later about our first day.  I couldn’t help but contrast the picture of the start of the year to that imaginary first day of school I dreamed I would have as a young mother.

In my idealistic young adulthood, I thought kids headed off to Kindergarten would be all about getting them the cutest outfit and lunchbox, teaching them to tie their shoes and memorizing their phone number.  It was a super-sweet dream.

My reality?  I’m not a “young mother.”  I’m an old one and often harried.  Two days before school started, I finally realized The Captain (headed to Kinder) and Tinkerbell (headed to PreK three hours a day) needed a new outfit for the first day.  Oops!  You see, my two weeks before school started had been spent in a completely different way.

I’d spent weeks making phone calls, writing letters, going to the Developmental Psychologist, taking my boy to academic assessments, meeting with therapists, visiting the school and practicing walking to school.  I could not care less about what The Captain wore that first day.  Instead, I wanted it to be a day free of stress and fear; I wanted him to succeed.  I wanted him to remember that Mommy is only a short walk away and that we love him, even if he can’t control his actions at all times.  I wanted a day in which he felt safe enough to have fun.

He cannot write his name (but he can sometimes recognize it).  We bought Velcro shoes because tying his shoes is not even on the radar. We told him the figure on his new shirt sleeve was actually a 5 and that’s because that’s how old he is.   We stressed over and over that his teacher couldn’t wait to teach him and that the school was full of grown-ups willing to help him.  We promised him he would be okay.

On a quiet car ride after a private visit with his teacher the Friday before school started I said, “You’re going to be okay, buddy, right?  You met all the teachers, you’ve seen your room, the school is so cheerful and fun.”

He smiled bravely in the mirror and said, “I’m gonna be scared, Mommy, but not really really scared.” He expressed an emotion — unsolicited!  Now that’s progress.

The reality was as super-sweet as my young girl dream.  He flew through that first day.  He greeted me with a huge smile outside the school and said, “I made wise choice, Mommy!  I not scared much!”

Sometimes this journey looks different than our dreams, but it is every bit as beautiful and every step worth it.

Photo Credit:  Dreena T

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Dreena Melea Tischler


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