I would not let go. It was time. I got the phone call. A spot had opened in THE pre-school for Sebastian. He had just turned 2.5 in November, the required age. I had never planned to send my child to pre-school. I was a stay at home mom. Even though I needed to be a SAHM for Sebastian, I wanted to be one. I had planned to be one. My mom was one. What SAHM would send their young child to pre-school? Many, I would learn. It was a morning program, just over two hours, five days a week. It was a program where children with additional needs were integrated with typically developing kids, 50-50. To me, it was the perfect program. And the most integrated I had found in the city. But. Sebastian was 2.5 years old and we had never been apart for more than an hour or two at a time and that varied from once a week (music class with papa-daddy in Cairo) to once a year (movie night while visiting Grandma in Michigan). My heart cracked open. I had to let go. I had to give Sebastian the opportunity to grow in ways I could not provide at home. I could be his mama and even his therapist (and teacher!) but I could not be his everything. I would let go. But it would not be easy. *
A couple weeks ago Seb had his school photos. Last year the teacher offered for me to stay during them but I declined. I had a meeting to get too and I wasn’t worried about how they’d go, afterall he loves getting his photo taken. They turned out ok, no smiles and in the class pic he had trouble holding his head forward. I decided this year I’d attend and see if we could get a ‘happy face’ for one of his photos. Or at least offer my support and cheerleading skills.
Sebastian’s teacher was happy to have me come. But on Sunday night I began to think I was being over protective in going to picture day. After all, whose mom goes to picture day?! After a lot of going back and forth, the next morning I decided that I would NOT stay for pictures. It was difficult for me but I knew that I had to let go and trust that his teachers could do it. Of course I didn’t leave without giving them a few tips and also suggesting a pose in his walker for the class photo since he’s been getting around in it so well. 🙂
I did not worry. But a week later the teacher approached me during morning drop off looking worried. She handed me his two proof photos and practically apologized because he was not smiling. She said he’d had a difficult time with the flash. I didn’t care that he wasn’t smiling. He was sitting up all by himself (!!!) in the corner seat. No one was holding him. No extra supports. (Last year I jokingly asked the photographer if he could PhotoShop the teacher’s hand, which was holding him up, out of the photo and he did!) Sebastian was looking very grown up. I was so proud of him. We have so many photos of him smiling. This one is still a keeper.
Unfortunately the class photo was a disappointment. Seb was in his walker and although he was doing an excellent job, he was upset. But the real reason I didn’t like the photo was because I had imagined he would be standing among his classmates, maybe even surrounded by them. Instead he was on the end, and everyone EVERYONE else is seated in the photo. So not only does he stand out because he’s upset, but also because he is at the edge of the group, standing in his walker. I was not happy about this and shared my concerns with the teacher. She asked the photographer to bring in the other photo where he is seated on his teacher’s lap. Regardless whether a smile is present he will be a part of the photo rather than on the end, apart from the group. His teacher also agreed it hadn’t been the most inclusive shot, assuring me next year we create a better pose for the class.
I don’t make a fuss much, do I?
Next year I’ll continue to try letting go. We’ll see how that goes.
*this portion was done as part of an exercise in my memoir writing class and goes back in time to fall 2010, when our pre-school journey began