Early Intervention Preschool: The First Day

Also known as “Hello, PTSD, it’s been a while.”

I should start my saying that I always thought that other mothers were being completely melodramatic when they claimed that they cried after dropping their child off at preschool or daycare. I couldn’t imagine that it would be hard to indulge in some child-free shopping or maybe even just take a nap. The only thing I could figure was that they must love their kids more than me or something. It’s not like I think it’s easy to leave your child, but crying? I think not. Crying is for real tragedies.

So it took me by complete surprise today when I felt myself breaking down as I drove away from Charlie’s school.

I’ve left Charlie before–with my parents, my brother, my husband’s parents. I’ve been on trips without him. It’s not like I don’t know how to function without my child. I am, in fact, capable of coherent thought on other topics and I pride myself on not being one of those women who can, on occasion, go get a drink, have a laugh, and not ram my special needs mommy persona down your throat. I’m fun like that.

Boy in wheelchair

I realized, though, that I’ve never left him with strangers and when I dropped Charlie off this morning, our complicated history came up behind me and smacked me with a frying pan.

The day after Charlie was born, I called the Children’s Hospital to check on him from my own tres glamorous hospital bed. I was recovering from a C-section and couldn’t be with him all day. When I called, I identified myself to the nurse, there was some muffled talking in the background, and then she came back on the line and told me that it would be best if I came right away–the news wasn’t good.

From that moment on, I have never really trusted the people who care for Charlie. If is was bad, why didn’t they call me? Why did I have to call them? Reasonably I know that they may have wanted to do it in person or maybe they hadn’t had time yet. I know that in my mind, but my gut tells me that strangers can’t be trusted. After that moment, I made sure that someone I knew was with Charlie all the time. In the early days there were round-the-clock vigils. As he began to pull out of the woods, I would call whenever I woke up in the middle of the night to pump milk. Deep-down I was scared that my baby would die and I wouldn’t know until it was too late.

If I look over the last three years, it’s easy to see that I never regained that trust of “the experts.” I consult them, I consider their opinions, but in the end, I only trust myself.

After I dropped Charlie off I came home, curled up in a ball in my bed and had a couple of nightmares about mis-managed special needs classrooms where children run amok. I was, of course, the incompetent teacher complete with coming to work in my pajamas. That’s only slightly better than the dreams where I go to work without any pants on and then try convince people it’s just the latest look.

I picked up Charlie at the end of the day and he was fine. He can’t talk, but I suspect that he rather enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the classroom. I think that summer has been boring for him. Me, on the other hand, well, I tried not to cry a second time.

Some days I find out that I’m not as evolved as I think.

Boy in wheelchair

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  1. Goodness, he certainly looks all grown up and handsome, though. So boy-ish and not babyish. That alone might have made me cry. Katy, I had PTSD all day because today, two days after Hannah’s birthday, is the anniversary of her metabolic crisis, which I suspect is the source of her anoxic brain injury that causes the CP. I question myself, not knowing she wasn’t nursing enough to keep her sugars up, I question the nurses who checked her blood sugar once, twice, then a thrid time before putting in the glucose IV. I’ll never trust any of us again and yet I have to put her in day care and deal with a gazillion therapists who all think I should follow their advice. And where were they two years ago today? Effing CP. Bleah. And for two and a half years I made my husband do every morning drop off, just so I wouldn’t cry. I am not very evolved and that was before I had a special needs child. Hugs to you guys!

  2. I see Ginger has beat me to it, but I just wanted to pop in and say how great Charlie looks in his new chair. Have you noticed a big difference in how people interact with him?

    As to the PTSD, I don’t really have anything helpful to say so I shall think a hug at you and leave it at that.

  3. It a little less than two weeks I will put my second kindergartener on the big yellow bus. And it feels so anti-climatic.

    She is my first typical child, my first experience of what most people go through and I keep waiting to do more. But there’s nothing else to do.

    With L, I agonized over whether or not to send her to Kindergarten. You seriously would have thought we were sending the kid to college the way we agaonized over this descision. i conulted (numerous times) with her preschool teacher, had a transistion meeting, had another MFE done.

    Then, I went and moved school districts. I consulted with her neurologist. Met all the teachers, paras, and therapists.

    With Ellie, I’m simply going to put her on the bus and wave good-bye. I’ll probably cry as well.

    But gosh, it feels like I’m missing something.

    He looks great!

  4. He looks adorable and so grown up in these pictures! There is just something about dropping your kids off with strangers and having to trust them to take good care of your child that makes a person weepy.
    When Gracie started preschool at three years old, Caleb started kindergarten. They both started on the same day. Their classrooms were right next to each other and I slowly walked back and forth between the two rooms. I sat on the bench outside the door for awhile because I just couldn’t leave! By the third day of school I noticed that I was the only parnet left and then realaized I had better get adjusted to them going to school. It was so much harder than I thought it would be! It gets easier, I promise!

  5. I think for a lot of parents, the crying doesn’t come from leaving their child. The crying is symbolic. Here you have this baby, who has been yours and in your care almost all day every day, and all of a sudden he’s not a baby anymore! He’s growing up, and school is one of those big milestones that makes you notice that!

  6. You are oh so human, mom. I know, it sounds so alien a concept until it is your turn. Then the little guy has a blast! Hope that he has a wonderful experience and that you watch him evolve even more! And that picture! Oh my, to get behind those eyes and figure out what he is thinking! He looks so pensive!

  7. I cried when Cheyenne went to school, but with Mia not so much. I mean, I teared up, but I still had Merrick at home to keep me company (and prevent me from this child-free shopping you speak of).

  8. Eventually you WILL know the people at school that you’re leaving him with. :) Glad it went well for Charlie.

  9. He looks so handsome for his first day of school – of course, he looks handsome every day! I am one of those women that cries at the drop of a hat. I have always been impressed with those of you that don’t do that. It just isn’t in me. Emily will start school in October and I have no doubt I will cry like a baby! And I am OK with that…

  10. Isn’t it funny how motherhood can make you discover things about yourself that you would never have even suspected before??! I barely cried over anything before I had children, and now all sorts of things make me cry. Including Avery’s first day of preschool, which was almost two years ago now. Charlie looks so great in his super cool yellow wheelchair!

  11. But you ARE evolved, that’s the truth of it. What you experienced is light-years ahead of what most people experience, and your reactions were perfectly and wonderfully natural.

    I cried the first day I dropped off Bennett and watched him walk away as the doors closed behind him. I cry sometimes now when he comes home and doesn’t even acknowledge me until after about fifteen minutes of adjustment time. I’d give anything…ANYTHING, for him to run up to me and say ‘Hi Daddy’ and jump into my arms the way he used to. Anything. Everything.

    Trust me, you;re evolved.

  12. I’m very proud of both of you. You did what is very normal that every other mom does… Whether they admit it or not they feel that tug of the embelical cord. EVEN ME!
    And Charlie! Some kids are very social and don’t give a flip that they are away from Mom… like mine. And some cry and throw fits that some stranger is makin’ them stay with other strangers. That is just heartbreaking to deal with. NO MOTHER WANTS TO WALK AWAY FROM THEIR BABY WHEN THEY NEEEEEEEEED MOOOOOOOOOOOOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Charlie’s first day was a success! He went to school and no fit, no mishaps, and mom survived. You’ve done a great job up to now, let others see just how well.

    Much Love and Big Hugs to You and Charlie.


  13. I remember sobbing the ugly cry all the way down the school hallway after leaving Jacob at kindergarten the first day. Yeah, I was embarrassed, but there was no stopping it. SIGH. It was heartbreaking knowing that I was leaving him in the hands of people who could never love him like I do.

    Not evolved? Hm…I call it being human. LOL. HUGS TO YOU!

    Glad his first day was a success! It will get easier for you! 😉

  14. Followed your tweets on this…you done good.

    I still cry when I separate from CollegeSon. My Hubby does, too, Ken. Today I glanced at him in the backseat, asleep and unshaven – him not me – and said to Hubby, it is still a shock to me that our child is a man.

  15. charlie looks so grown up! totally ready for his big first day. you made it though it! way to go! we are still not sure if we will send drake to his IEP preschool or a private preschool, either way, i am sure i will be a wet-eyed mess on day one, too.

  16. Well, Katy, I cried today just driving home from Oia’s IEP meeting. No need to mention the mess I’ll be come Monday morning at 8am when it’s my turn for the first drop-off at preschool. It’s a whole new ball game after the tables have turned and we’re no longer the teacher, but instead the parent of a really special kiddo who needs more than most. Our job is not for the faint of heart but we are always allowed a good cry when and where we want to.

    By the way, handsome little fella’ he was in this khaki and white. So sweet…

  17. OMG. Could that boy be any cuter? Seriously.

  18. Awww look at him. Mike is determined Jude is not going to school next year, lol!

  19. Look at him he is so grownup wow
    Tears happen in the most unlikely places and situations. I found myself wailing one day after dropping my son off at pre-school– it had hit me that he wasn’t ‘graduating’ with his class and before I knew it the waterworks came on.