Dave and I breathed a sigh of relief when we sat down with Mia's kindergarten team and learned of her new nickname, "The Mayor". In true Mia fashion, she has endeared herself to so many at her new school, Plank North. We suspected she would win over the adults but were apprehensive about her peers. Well, we couldn't have been more wrong. Apparently, there is never an empty seat next to Mia at lunch. On the afternoon bus, the kids fight over who is going to help her get out of her harness. And, when we went to Open House, we couldn't make it two feet without someone stopping to greet Mia. Because Mia takes extra time to navigate her environment, she leaves five minutes before her classmates when going to specials and lunch. Staff members have been instructed to just give a salute or finger wave to Mia because her popularity is slowing her time travel even more. "Mayor" is music to my ears!
So, let me back up. The night before Mia and Gabriella stepped foot on that bus, heading to kindergarten for the first time, I cried for hours. My emotions were just a mixed web of feelings: pure joy and gratitude for a milestone which was once said would be very unlikely for Mia, disbelief that Dave and I ended an era of our "babies" at home, fear for the girls now going to a brand new school for them and for us, sadness for the girls being separated in different classes for the first time and an overwhelming terror for a whole new world of vulnerability. Although many of these feelings are natural for sending any child to kindergarten, they are magnified when sending your child with developmental delays and medical issues. My head kept firing question after question. How will we be able to protect Mia from the cruel things kids might say? Will someone make sure she has a friend to sit with? Will we be able to repair her feelings when she is always the last one picked during PE class because she cannot physically do what her peers can? Will she be able to focus long enough for a full day of school? Who will shelter her from the commotion and noise that bother her in the cafeteria and on the bus? Why can't I hold her hand up steps and on the playground? Will kids notice she is in a pull up? Will they question why she needs assistance with toileting all the time and begin to pick on her or distance themselves from her? Will Gabriella miss be lost without Mia? Will Mia be lost without Gabriella? Are we doing the right thing by separating them? Can Mia get the right amount of help in order to achieve academic success in a whole new world of "Common Core"? The list went on and my head just wouldn't stop!!
Now fast forward. I still have some of those fears but, thanks to a wonderful transition, I am not losing sleep over them (except for tonight as I write this blog at 1am).
Dave and I could not be happier with the faculty and staff at Plank North. The Principal, Vice Principal, teacher, nurse, aides, therapist, psychologist, bus driver and many more have gone above and beyond. We met a few times over the summer and were in constant communication. Everything was in place for Mia before the start of school. They installed a coat hook she could reach, ordered a smaller more supportive chair, measured her against sinks to see where she would need stools, installed a five point harness on her bus, became familiar and successful with taking her brace on and off, and thought about things proactively so Mia was set the day she stepped foot in that door. In addition, they made Gabriella feel special and included. It was amazing!
It is with immense joy that I report Mia and Gabriella are doing very well in kindergarten. Mia is always working on something but is learning so much and growing stronger everyday. She knows all her letters and letter sounds, sets of numbers, some sight words, daily routine and is making a ton of friends. She needs extra processing time, reminders to stay focused and a great deal of support with handwriting but is keeping up with kindergarten. Most importantly, both girls LOVE their new school. Mia reports about her "funny" teacher daily. Her aide is a special blessing that takes extra care of her throughout the day and always gives us a daily report! We are grateful to her and all those who have made the girls' experiences all positive!
Both girls look forward to going to school each day, which means all is right in their world!
With Mia being the Mayor, everything is right in our world too!