I am beginning to exhale. It has been three weeks and two days since our youngest child entered kindergarten and I think he's going to be OK. That sounds odd coming from an experienced mom of three, a woman who has steered both a boy and a girl through public school and into high school and middle school with success, but that would be if you didn't know our young son. I have just enough confidence and see just enough light at the end of the tunnel to have a sense of humor about his having been kicked out of a co-op preschool after two weeks at three, a Pre-K after two days at four, and being unceremoniously banished from the swim program at Grant.* At five, his therapeutic classroom (with six kids and three adults) didn't know how to handle him successfully until experts came in and spelled out in detail why all the usual good parenting/teaching behaviors would never work for him, no matter how consistently they enforced the rules and modelled appropriate behavior. After retraining the staff in the intricacies of high-functioning autism, the last three weeks of summer school were pretty good.
And then he entered kindergarten, and a new school.
New for him, but old for me. Thankfully, one of the few classrooms specifically for kids with High functioning autism/Asperger's is at Alameda, the school our older kids attended less than a mile away from our home, but not our "local" school. At the time our older kids were kindergarten age, Alameda was taking transfers, and they had a great education at that undoubtedly "privileged" school, and we, as lesbian moms, were embraced and accepted without question or even one bad experience. Now, Alameda takes no one out of the neighborhood, there are so many kids, except for in programs like our son's.
I've been holding my breath for the last 24 days, not daring to hope that it would work out, scared to invest my heart in six hours of work time, six hours of writing and painting that I've yearned for and had to put on hold, as educational options failed, and the generally advised "just hire a babysitter" remained an impossibility for a kid that only parents and professionals could care for without explosions and bloodshed, or emotional scarring he really doesn't need.
All that said, I would put all projects on hold again if need be. He is worth it. But he is blooming in this new environment in which he can bounce back from an explosion without expulsion, and his teachers are surprised by nothing he dishes out. They are charmed by his unexpected knowledge of how blood cells fight germs and bacteria, and by his decision to greet the head teacher with, "Hello Cherry Blossom" the other day. He's even made a friend or two who aren't imaginary. Just what a mother dreams of.
He's going to be OK. Let the writing begin.
*More on the positive outcome of that move later in this blog