8.20.2013

Back to school jitters

I think I made it clear by now that I am a summer person and as far as I'm concerned, winter should be abolished. Bring on the global warming already (I joke, of course... sorta).

I usually get antsy as the summer draws to a close. I love the months of August and September, the golden sunshine, the cooler evenings, the hue of green changing subtly to a yellower tone. But since I was a little kid the beauty of that season was always marred by one thing. Yup, back to school.

I hate the whole thing. The commercials, the flyers, the bins of binders and pencils lining the aisles of department stores. It all causes a sinking pit to form in my stomach. That is an example of a residual conditioned response as I haven't gone back to school in over ten years. Needless to say, I didn't like it much. I'm not sure why exactly, I was never bullied and I was a good student. I just think school-type settings are not ideal for a deeply introverted person like I am. And don't get me started on presentations, ugh.

Of course like a good responsible mother I hide my feelings from my kids and instead put on the "goodness gracious, you will have so much fun!" show. My daughter buys it, my son not so much. It's further supporting my extrovert/introvert theory as my daughter is a social butterfly and thrives in school while my son needs a lot more alone time and to do and learn things at his own speed (which is a slow and detail-oriented speed and with little desire for it to be a social affair).

This year the pit in stomach is all the more deeper because Sophie will start school as well. While I know (or hope?) that this will be a good thing for her, I want to keep her with me for just a little while longer. We have heard only wonderful things about the school (which is a special-needs preschool, offering many therapies in a half-day program), we have visited and met the staff and had a more formal interview. It seems like a great fit for her. The teachers were able to see Sophie using her PECS binder (only a couple days after I made it) which put her in a "capable" category in their minds and they seemed quite excited to work on our communication goals. Which is great. The OT seemed optimistic about potty training. Which is equally great. I think the structure and routine will be good for her as well.

But... I am a bit sad that at 3 years old she is already embarking on her formal education path. The earth mama in me feels she should spend her days digging in the dirt, running in the grass and just being a kid. And she does do plenty of that of course. I am very protective of her "kid time" and believe that most learning she's done is the result of all the normal experiences we try to provide. I worry about getting caught up in progress reports and learning plans and seeing her as a project to be improved upon. At the same time, I am excited about giving her the opportunity to realize her potential. I think the crux of my dilemma is that in the process of "improving" Sophie, I don't want to lose sight of her as the little girl in the midst of all this. A little girl who is only three years old and still has a lot of growing up to do. I often read parents writing that their autistic toddlers work so hard. That phrase somehow rubs me the wrong way. I don't feel comfortable with Sophie working so hard, not yet.

Sophie chillin'. Note how she propped up her feet for maximum comfort.

But on the other hand I am desperate to improve our communication with her. Poor girl is trying so hard to talk, to make sounds. I am almost ready to purchase an app for her to begin teaching her communicating that way. I will wait until I speak with the speech pathologist but I foresee doing it by the end of September at the latest. In the meantime I want to print off more word sheets for her and teach her as many words as possible. She is a funny girl that Sophie. Sometimes she is lost in her path, running in a seemingly oblivious to the world way. But lately she studies letters, in her books and on her Thomas engines with such fascination I swear she is trying to read. I always make a point to spell words for her because, heck you never know. And I've been putting subtitles on her videos too, for the same reason.

She's doing a lot of reading lately

And so that is me these days. Excited, anxious, a bit sad but overall optimistic :)

 

 

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