Today is the last day of school. And unlike the other last days at the end of the year – this is his final day of being a preschooler. He will be moving to kindergarten, to a new school, where he will no longer have the “Preschooler with a disability” classification. He’ll be classified with “Autism.”
I look at The Boy’s book-bag, worn from wear and I remember the first time I put it on him three years ago. It was too big and wouldn’t stay on his shoulders, but I put it on because I wanted to take a picture. And now today – three years later, it still falls slightly off his shoulders except now he knows to adjust the straps with his hands. It makes him look like one of the big kids. And I so desperately want to keep him a baby.
Earlier this week I picked The Boy up from school. And as I walked up the steps I realized it would be last time I’d pick him up from this school. The school he’s been in since his diagnosis. It was hard not to feel emotional, hard not to cry as I hugged the Early Intervention Director goodbye.
This transition won't be like transitioning from EI to CPSE. The Boy won’t be moving up to a different floor; he’ll be moving to a new school where his name and face are not yet known.
|First Day Sept 2008|
I thought about the first time I put him on the bus. How nervous I was. He was barely 3 years old, still in diapers. Putting him on a moving vehicle, with a driver I didn't know. Handing him over to strangers when he had no words or way of communicating. And all I could do was watch and wave from the sidewalk, hoping everything would be okay.
|Last Day Aug 2011|
And when I put The Boy on the bus this morning, I hugged and thanked the bus driver and matron. Because they were really great with The Boy, saying good morning with a smile. Waiting for me on mornings when I was late.
I walked to the corner, bought myself a cup of coffee, waited for The Husband to pick me up. And as soon as I stepped in the car, I buried my head in my hands and cried. It is really over, I thought.
I knew this day would come. I’ve been dreading it since last September. And I feel like I’ve been pushed backwards, further down the rabbit hole. And I have no idea what to expect.
"End? No, the journey doesn't end here. [Kindergarten]* is just another path, one that we all must take." Gandalf, Lord of the Rings
*obviously this quote has been modified.
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AutismWonderland - written by Lisa Quinones-Fontanez - is a personal blog chronicling a NYC family's journey with autism, while also sharing local resources for children/families with special needs.