My biggest little man, Christian, is growing up so fast. He's mastering language at an alarming speed and leaving me to question why I worried about a possible speech issue a couple of months back. If there is one, I think it's something that can be easily resolved with some speech therapy. So, last week, we were sitting around the dinner table and thinking up nicknames for each other. Charles started by saying to Christian, "Well, you're Scooby Do...and I'm ScoobaDaddy...and Mommy's...hmmmm.." Christian shouts out, "Elijah is ScoobiLijah!!" We all started laughing. I said, (With a heavy gospel accent) "Scoooob-i-Lijah! I love it!" So, now we all go around invoking Eli's new nickname..."It's Scooooob-i-Lijah!" (You must have the appropriate gospel drawl to make the nickname really sing.) This is just another way I am proud of Christian. He has accepted Elijah into his world and thinks about him and cares about him. (My heart...) He even drew a picture of Elijah and showed me a beautiful-work-of-scribble-art and said, "Look, Mommy! It's a picture of Elijah." I tried to make heads or tails of the picture to no avail, but then he said, "Look! Here's his hair," and proceeded to heavily scribble a mohawk on top of one portion of the picture that did vaguely resemble a circle. Considering Elijah does have a little baby mohawk, I think we may have the makings of an artist here... (Although, I did totally miss the boat on one of his other works of art from the same week. We were looking through his giant art pad for one unused piece of paper, and I said, "Oh sweetie, I think they've all been used...oh wait, here's one!" The page had one small line, lightly drawn. Christian responded, "Mom. That's a seal." (In a tone that any teenager would envy- conveying just that smidgen of disdain for the fact that I couldn't possibly see that the page was indeed full of a very significant piece of work. A Seal.) O....Kay... So my little genius artist/nickname conjurer started preschool on Friday. It was a busy morning of rushing around trying to get out the door, so as not to be late to the very first day of school. We put on the outfit I had selected for his first day, wet and combed his hair, gave just a small spray of hair spray in hopes that he wouldn't look disheveled immediately, strapped on his backpack and headed out the door as a family: Me, Charles, Christian and Elijah. School was a buzz of excitement. When we walked up, a line had formed outside of the preschool office. We looked for Christian's name tag on a table adorned with small baskets each containing name tags separated by color. I started sifting through the basket of orange name cards because our welcome letter had informed us that he is in the Orange Door room. We affixed the name tag and walked through the office, where the director asked Christian if he was excited about school. Mute followed. So, she asked for a high five and that elicited a healthy response. We made our way over to the orange door and read the instructions on how to check our child in each day. Once we washed hands and put things away in his cubby, (He has a cubby!) (My heart...again.) he sat down with teacher Stephanie to play with the playdough. We stayed for a little bit and watched as he checked the classroom out: smelling the playdough (vanilla), inspecting the dinosaurs, getting cozy in the reading corner...I thought now was as good a time as any, so I said, "Okay, sweetie, we're going to go. I love you! We'll see you in just a little bit." All of a sudden, his hands flew up to cover his eyes and I could see his lips quivering. "Don't go! You need to stay!" he cried. Then I caved. I started crying too, and I hugged him tight, "Okay baby, we'll stay a little longer...we'll stay a little longer..." Luckily, the teacher came over to save the day. She said, "Your Mommy and Daddy are going to be right outside, and then they'll be back really soon." And he said (still crying)...
(Great.) The teacher looked at me and said, "Did he eat?" I don't think my voice could've gone any higher. "YES! Of course, he had breakfast!" So, she turned back to him and said, "Would you like some crackers?" He said, (sniff, sniff) "Yeah, crackers..." So, we said the I love yous, and the See you laters while the teacher led him away to get some crackers. We stood outside the classroom talking to some other parents I know, and about 5 minutes later, the teacher peeked her head out and said, "He's doing better already."
The ride home was bittersweet. I want him to succeed and be independent in life, but I also feel like my baby doesn't need me as much anymore. I got about 1/4 of a block away and started bawling. Charles said, "What's the m....oh...Christian." Yeah. Christian. We were back promptly 45 minutes later to pick him up (It was a shortened "transition" day.) He was sitting in a circle with the other kids on a little mat that looked like a doormat. When he saw me, his whole face lit up and they started singing the "Goodbye Christian" song. Then he gave his mat to the teacher and came running to me. (Oh, heart.) He said he had fun and I decided not to push talking about when he would go back.
My handsome preschooler on his very first day of preschool:
As if the day wasn't momentous enough, Christian also started in his first Boys (Aged 3-5) Hip Hop Class!!!
(Can you tell who is really excited about this?) Little boys doing Hip Hop is akin to the little girls putting on tutus for me. There really couldn't be anything cuter. Except maybe babies in furry animal costumes at Halloween. Or little ones holding hands. But, it's right up there. I became THAT Mom. The Mom that can't sit down and frequently (and without warning) shouts out (in the 5x5 waiting area outside the studio): "Ohmigosh!! They are sooo cute!!" The Mom that is blocking everyone's view of their kids, because she is taking pictures from every angle of the picture window. No one else seemed as excited as I was. Why not?? Was this not a new class for their boys? I realize that my background as a dancer and my job as a dance teacher might possibly make this especially, and uniquely, exciting for me, and I held my breath during his class (except for when I was spontaneously shouting)...because it won't be any fun if he doesn't like it. I got to live out my dreams of being a professional dancer, so I don't need my kids to live that dream for me. Still...everytime that music played, he bopped. Maybe not always the exact way the teacher was showing them, but he liked the music and he liked moving his body. And his "beat boy" poses were the bomb...
The weekend continued on a high note with Saturday delivering the "New Families BBQ" thrown by the Down Syndrome Association of Los Angeles (DSALA). Now...I mean NO disrespect here at all, but the "Association" for Down syndrome in Los Angeles is still just a gathering of maybe 25 families who have a baby under 3 years old with Down syndrome, who all fit nicely into the President of the DSALA's backyard. 1 in 733 babies born with Down syndrome each year. We're not pulling in big numbers. I'm just sayin...But it was the largest gathering of babies with DS and their families that I have been around. It was a tad overwhelming. Mostly in a good way, I think. I saw new friends I've been connecting with- some primarily online due to distance and some in person. I met a few new families that were super cool and who I hope we get to know better. And I met a couple of people who are still adjusting to this new world they've been thrust into. I, personally, was grateful to have the shock behind me and in a place where I'm just loving my sweetie little baby boy, who is becoming quite the flirt with his full-body activated smiles. Scooob-i-Lijah!
Sunday saw a Book Club gathering of ladies that I volunteered to host this time around. We got into some deep discussion, there were tears, hot topics of some debate and of course, wine and food. I wrapped up the evening feeling so blessed to be included with a group of women who search to be intellectually stimulated, but who can relate to me on many "mom" levels (since all have kids around the same ages). I only wonder if how I have been effected by Down syndrome will effect those friendships? Maybe for the better...maybe not in some cases...I do know that I am forever changed. I am forever changed in my thinking. I am forever changed in how I feel. And I can't go back. What I used to think and feel was all I knew at the time, but my world turned upside down in the most unexpected way and I re-evaluated who I am and how I want to be in this world. I sometimes wonder if that will become too much for others. I mean, no one wants to hear You just don't know, what you don't know. It's annoying. I remember a super-close friend telling me while I was pregnant with Christian, that I couldn't know what it was like to be a Mother, until you really are one. No amount of explaining, or describing or use of analogies will accurately capture it. Turns out, she was absolutely RIGHT. It was still annoying, though... :) Hopefully my book club friends and everyone else, for that matter, can know that life got colored in just a little bit brighter when Elijah came into it. The color and the passion got dialed up just a little. My strength of conviction on certain things became a lot clearer, because they are now a part of my personal life. It's a lot. Hopefully, it's a lot, but in a good way, because as I said, I am forever changed and I can't go back.
And I can't go back on the million calories I consumed on these cakes:
Monday arrived quickly and the reality of Christian being a full-fledged preschooler started setting in. All night I had nightmares about forgetting that Christian had preschool, then forgetting to pick him up from preschool...then, strangely it merged to me forgetting to pick up Buddy from doggie daycare and he had to spend the night there. In the morning, (in my dream) the doggie daycare people told me I was going to have to sign up for automatic monthly withdrawls for doggie daycare since I didn't show up. I woke up feeling terrible. I felt terrible that I had a dream about Buddy, who has been gone for 5 months now, and that I am having nightmares about forgetting my dead dog and my son. Needless to say, our morning ran ship-shape. We (just Christian, Elijah and I this time) made our way through the preschool office with our orange name tag and a quick high five, then into the classroom. I made a quick getaway this time. Luckily, the teacher met us at the door, as I said, "I love you sweetie- I'll see you in just a little bit." The teacher shuttled him into the classroom with no tears and I thought, That wasn't so bad. I put Elijah back in the car, got in myself and said, "Well, it's just you and me, Elijah"....and burst into tears. Again. The damn tears. I just honestly don't expect them. I've left Christian plenty of times at drop-in daycare and I've never once cried. This just feels different...and more final. This is it- he's in school now for the long haul. And it's Change. Change is hard for me sometimes. I got home and for awhile the house was so quiet that I didn't know what to do with myself. I finally pulled it together and got a ton of work done. This school thing might not be so bad after all... My dream was all about my anxiety of Christian starting preschool and the change of schedule that comes along with it, but one thing seems fairly certain...I will not be forgetting to pick my son up.
I was 5 minutes early.