Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bittersweet

I really don't have anything today (ummm...I just finished writing this post and realize I had an awful lot more than I thought I did when I started!), but I do have a bit of a growing feeling of anxiety.  It didn't really hit me until lastnight that Samantha is about to graduate preschool.  She started school at 2 yrs. 3 mos., an event that was anxiety-provoking in itself, and I'm finding it hard to believe that it's over, and we're about to head into The Big Time.  Is she ready?  I just don't know.  But I will say, and Steve and I have talked about this plenty, that if she struggles and we feel the need to hold her back a year, at least it will be to repeat a more academic year, rather than preschool.  I do feel she's outgrown that environment, at least in the public school system.  So Bring It On!!!

Tomorrow is the first of two preschool graduations for her.  Her 2-day-per-week private Junior K class is doing a presentation tomorrow afternoon.  I doubt she'll participate (she still shuts down in group activities), but it should still be fun.  I hope.  Or maybe it won't be...I'll have to keep an eye on her for signs of over-stimulation (like a fit of crying - think that'll be obvious enough?) when there's a crowd of children and a crowd of parents all watching what they're doing... 

Monday is the graduation from her public preschool.  I think this one will be harder on me, as she's been there for so long, or at least in the system for so long.  This one is more for real to me.  I guess I should take tissues, huh?  Sure, there's still a summer full of school ahead of us (5 weeks of 3-day/week public summer school and a whole summer of 2-day/week private school), but she's still technically done.

I hope this doesn't come across as whining or anything, and I know I have said time and again that I wouldn't compare Samantha to other kids, but I have to recount this conversation between two typical 5 year old girls at the birthday party Sammi went to last weekend:

Girl 1 (pointing to a little boy standing nearby):  "So, is that your boyfriend?"
Girl 2:  "Yep."
Girl 1:  "I wish I had a boyfriend."

Moments later, upon hearing the song that started coming out of the speakers, one girl squealed, "Oooh, Justin Bieber!!  C'mon, let's go dance to Justin Bieber!"

When did 4 and 5 year olds become teenagers, anyway?  When they say that the child with Ds will stay a child longer, I know this to be true.  Do I mind that?  Not really.  But I do want my child to be able to maintain a typical peer friend-base.  When they say that the developmental gap becomes more and more apparent as the child ages, I know this now to be true, as well.  Not having exposure to typical development on a daily basis definitely puts me at a bit of a disadvantage.  What I think is so "typical" of Samantha's development, really isn't.  But I generally don't know that until I face it head-on in these situations.

At the playground last week, a woman stood next to me, watching her little boy play on the climbers.  Samantha was playing on the slide.  She said, "Oh, she's very tall!  How old is she?"  I responded that she was 5.  I could almost feel her wishing to retract her previous statement as she said, with a slightly flatter affect, "Oh, yes, she is tall."  For a 3 year old.  Sure, she didn't say that, but I'm sure she was thinking it.  And I completely understand.  Doesn't make it any less difficult, but I do understand.

Kindergarten will probably be a reality check.  And again, I'm not whining, I'm just thinking out loud like usual (remember when I said I liked to hear myself think?).  I have no doubt Samantha will do well, for Samantha.  I think her biggest roadblocks are in dealing with transition and group participation.  Sheesh, if she could get past those...  I don't even know where to start. 

11 comments:

Jen Currier said...

I had to laugh at the "She is tall. How old is she?" comment. Story of my life. I'm getting good at the sweet smile and the thick skin when I reply to someone's "How old is he? 8 months??" and I say, calmly, "No, actually...he is a year old- he's just small." 99.5% of the time I don't bother to explain why to a stranger. Our kids are more than just their diagnosis, and I feel like I would be making excuses about Elijah if I took every opportunity to explain his size or his delays. Preschool graduation is a big one. Congratulations...and definitely bring some tissues girl!!

Anna said...

I completely comprehend. Grace is so so delayed. Not only do we have Down Syndrme, not wearing her glasses at the orphanage and new/undetected hearing loss. You then add the delay from being raised in an orphanage x delay per _ months in an institution. I mentioned a birthday party we attended a few weeks ago on my blog. It was like a punch in the gut. I had been so elated over all the progress weve made in a year that the reality shocked me. She will be 6 in Nov. No matter how much/quickly we make progress- everyone else is too and it feels like we are light years behind. Thus our reason for keeping her home one more year. In the bigger scheme of things the orphan realities are much bigger and need to be addressed emotionally. My only sanity is focusing on the positives.(thank you for introducing us to Olivia the pig BTW. I bought her 3 new board books yesterday to celebrate- LOVE!!!)

Alicia said...

i just did the "she is tall, how old is he" past sunday :S I felt ashamed, because I've been there! just someone told me that a new kid at church was 6 and he has Autism, so I approched the mom and told her how big his kid was, and then asked how old was he, and told me 8. oops. then i realized that when we say the compliment of "how big" is because i was trying to be nice, but since Autism was something new I didnt know what else to say, then realizing that when I meet any kid, I not necessarily say a compliment, so why I needed this time? maybe, to simphatize, maybe to make a connection, maybe to just say something nice, dont know.....

the funnier thing someone told me, was this lady at church, who have not seen Elias in like mm 3 years, and when she saw him, told me, wow, he has grown! like a compliment, but i was thinking, well of course, kids grow you know? lol

Elias grad is comming soon too! he is graduating from kinder! omg! and you bet we will be 15 family members watching him getting his diploma! ... maybe people will look us crazy, 15 people to a kindy graduation, well, its time to celebrate something people told us he could not do, to celebrate a milestone as we celebrated when he walked for the first time!

and i get excited and all teary when i see Elias' t21 peers archiving milestones, so, take a lot of pictures and videos, because you will have a mexican friend with a tissue watching Sammi's grad pics :D

Monique said...

Congrats on preschool graduation. Such a big step. :-) I honestly think you have the better deal with Samantha staying child like longer. That is scary to hear 4/5 year olds saying things like that. Wow!

Beth said...

Hmmm. "Exposure to typical development..."
In my book (albeit a conservative one regarding what is appropriate entertainment for young children), preschoolers squealing about Justin Bieber is not something I'd consider as "typical". Some of mainstream culture should be saved for the teens and tweens. Or, for that matter, thrown out entirely.

I hear you on the developmental gap. What I've found is that Hannah's best friends span a range of ages. The ones I appreciate the most are the older ones--they don't mind when Hannah happens to mention something from Disney Junior. I talked with one of her friends (who is 17!), and she said, "What I really like about Hannah is that I never know what she's going to say--she's so much fun!"

Another thing I've noticed about her friends is that they all seem to be on the other end of the bell curve--they are all quite bright. I think that the average kids don't really know what to do with Hannah--they can't figure it out. They aren't mean or anything, but they can't engage with her as much as the brighter ones do.

That's sort of off the topic of Sammi's transition from preschool, but hopefully you'll find a smidgen of encouragement in here somewhere.

Lacey said...

My Tanner, who is autistic, is a full head below every single child in his class! I'm not sure why he seems to be so short and skinny, I do wonder if the autism has something to do with that. Jax, of course, is absolutely itty bitty! 5 1/2 year old that is the size of a two year old. So I'm used to the looks of surprise when I tell people how old he really is!
I bet she'll do great in kindergarten, but I know what you mean about leaving something she's been in so long! When I leave Jax therapists he's had for 4 years, I'm going to bawl my eyes out!

Andi said...

I don't have a particularly helpful comment, but as the mom of a daughter who is socially and verbally typical, I think I can say with confidence that 5yo girls shouldn't be Bieber-crazy yet!

Cathleen said...

Our girls are really opposite sides to the same coin. Lilly would much rather perform on a stage for Sammi but can Sammi please take Lilly's tests? She is so clever!

By the way, having DS does not preclude a 4 year old from loving Justin Bieber and having boyfriends, just ask Lilly! Lilly would be such a bad influence on Sammi. When we ask Lilly how old she is, she says 4, and when we ask how old she'll be on her birthday she says "18!" We're working on getting that number down to 5...

The only thing I can say - because you and I have debated the issue a lot regarding proper placement for our girls - is that just now, at the end of the school year, do I feel like Lilly could truly be ready for regular kindergarten - so I do think that you're doing the right thing for Sammi. That being said, our structure for kindergarten and the next few years are completely different systems so I think we're probably both doing the right thing with placing our girls. It's better for you to put your girl in a structured academic Kindergarten class that she could potentially repeat if needed (and probably won't!) and better for Lilly who has had such transitions every year to start pre-K at her small class-size school with the same group of kids she'll be with for the next 10 years - because holding her back in a small group of kids will be more noticeable, if that makes sense. And, Lilly will be doing full days with less help and you have half days (plus) with more options for help. Anyways, just want you to know I understand and totally support you guys.

No matter what, I can guarantee our girls will be successful at no matter what they put their minds to. We are the luckiest parents.

Zoey's mom said...

I get it,really and truly I do.

My sweet Zoey,so very behind her "typical Down syndrome" buddies.I walked into class the other day and one of her friends sporting an extra chromosome runs up and says,clear as bell,"Hi Zoey.Look at my book.Here is a "Z"."Z" is for Zoey."Seriously?My mouth just hung open.But ... I have come a long way on the acceptance trail.Doesn't mean it is always easy to see that gap and the gap I am talking about has nothing to do with typicals... it is within her very own T21 peer group.a group I love but a group I can't help but compare her to sometimes.

So today I am sending you virtual hugs.Knowing that you do know,that Sammi is going to rule her world but knowing that the journey in and around that world may be sprinkled with feelings like you have written about from time to time.Nothing wrong with that.In fact I think it is healthy that we cycle through them.It is all about how long we stay down about them and I think I know you a bit and I am certain that this latest pang of sadness is gone already.How could it not?Just one look at that precious childs face,makes everything better!

Dawn said...

I had to laugh at the "she's very tall" statement. Not only is Taylor very tall anyway, but being profoundly delayed, we got that anytime we were around any kids, no matter the age.

Honestly, I clearly remember riding on a school bus with Taylor, on our way to a pumpkin farm with all the "typical" kindergardeners. I was trying to hide the fact that I was crying my eyes out while all the other parents were singing songs together with their 5 year olds, I was sitting next to my 7 y/o, nonverbal, daughter who was doing odd hand motions.

I kept thinking that I wanted so bad to hear Taylor's voice singing with all the other kids. That is still a very clear memory. I am thankful to say that those are not the majority of my memories, but they are normal. Taylor is 21 years old now and I would be lying if I said there aren't still days when I mourn what might have been. It's normal and never goes away. In this, you are a "typical" mom of a child with developmental delays. In some circles, you are normal. *smiles*

You have cute little girl.

doozee said...

Homeschooling is looking better and better... good grief. Justin Bieber? Boyfriends? 5 years old? Ack!
I'm just starting to get the size comments. Moxie's so small and we are so very LARGE that it would only 'make sense' that she be large as well...right?! :)