I still remember the day Brendan started Kindergarten as if it were yesterday. Unlike most moms I wasn’t sad about it at all. After all, he had been bussed across town for preschool for the entire year leading up to Kindergarten, so going to school just up the street was actually something to celebrate versus something to be sad about. And with the big smile on his face, it was hard to be anything but excited right along with him.
He seemed so big and yet so little all at the same time. After all we had to do for him in the first 5 years of his life, just getting him to this point seemed somewhat miraculous. No longer would we host weekly therapy sessions in our house, no more would we have to discuss whether he should be in a fully special education preschool or a half and half class, no more would we have to schedule an IFSP meeting every six months to update his goals and progress, and no more would we be working with the team who had been with him since the time he was a baby.
That was the scariest part for us, transitioning to a new set of professionals. We knew the early childhood team well, and they knew Brendan. Now we were going to have to get to know a whole new group of people, and teach them all about Brendan. What if they weren’t as caring and understanding as the early childhood team had been? What if they didn’t have Brendan’s best interests at heart? Were we about to be spending the next 6 years in an uphill battle to make sure Brendan’s needs were met at school?
As it turned out all our fears were baseless. The team we had at Brendan’s elementary school were amazing. Even on those rare occasions where we had disagreements with his classroom teacher about what Brendan needed, the special education team came through and made sure he had all the tools in place to be successful in school.
Back when he started Kindergarten I couldn’t imagine him as a 5th grader. 6 years of school seemed like a lifetime, and trying to imagine him going off to middle or high school was just something I couldn’t even fathom. Yet now that is exactly where I am standing. I am again at the end of one thing and the beginning of another. This fall my baby boy will be off to a brand new school again with a brand new team of teachers dedicated to making sure he can be successful as a middle schooler.
I’m both happy and sad, scared and confident. My own middle school years were filled with many ups and downs and I worry about my sweet tenderhearted little man going through those same hardships that every pre-teen goes through. But Brendan has had ups and downs even in elementary school and has come through the hardships much more gracefully than I think I would have in his shoes.
So tomorrow is it. At 3:45 in the afternoon he will walk out of the elementary school as a student for the very last time in his life. Tomorrow. That is when the tears will fall. That is when it will finally sink in that my little boy is no longer little.