Sending Benny to his very first day of preschool = I may well have just cut my own heart out with a butter knife. With the exception of a Friday night date here and there (babysitting compliments of Nana Grover), and the two hours spent in nursery class each week on Sunday (which is debatable since I spend the better part of church-time in nursery with him to keep him calm anyways), I never go anywhere without Benny. So sending Benny, who very much IS my heart, to preschool all by himself, quite literally felt like it was breaking my heart. For months leading up to this day, I have been feeling heavy anxiety about Benny's first day of preschool: will the other kids in his class be nice to him? will the teacher understand him when he tries to communicate? will he feel completely abandonned when I leave him in a foreign place? what if he fell or hurt himself and I'm not there to kiss it better? The logical part of my brain understands that preschool is the next step in Ben's forward progress, that his teachers and specialists will get to know him and won't be able to help falling in love with him, and that he is strong and will be ok. But that mommy side of my brain aches just a little bit...he's so little!...it doesn't seem right to send my baby off to big-kid school with a Cars backpack stuffed with diapers! I just want to protect him and shield that pure, sweet little boy from all the hurt lurking in the outside world.
I made arrangements for Max and Joey to play with friends so that I could spend as much time with Ben as necessary until he felt comfortable in his new classroom. Holding his little hand, walking him through the halls to his classroom, I couldn't have felt any more nervous if it was my own first day of school! When we entered Ben's class, his teacher, Miss Holly, was waiting with a smile to greet Ben. Miss Holly immediately showed Ben where to put his coat and backpack and then invited him to play. Ben zeroed in right away on a box of Legos and got busy happily stacking and sorting. I made a quick exit while he was occupied, and then watched him play through the window on the door for a few minutes. As I was about to leave, Ben looked up at me through the window. I blew him a big kiss and he gave me a big smile, reassuring me, "I can do this Mom. I'll be ok." Thank goodness I didn't act like one of those crazy moms who falls apart and bursts into tears the minute they drop their kid off!....I was crying like a baby waaaay before that! Clearly the entire experience was a lot harder on me than it was on him. I'm so excited for Benny to develop the self-confidence that follows gaining a bit of independence and I can't wait to see all of the progress that he will make from his daily speech sessions, vision and orientation and mobility assistance, and adaptive P.E. classes. I am so proud of Benny and the courage that he has shown every time he is presented with a new challenge. You can do this, Benny! And I'll try, too.