I am completely confident that we're making the right call for Abigail.
We arrived at the school at exactly the moment the teacher - the great and talented Ms. N - and her aides were unloading the other students from the bus and were able to walk Abigail back to her classroom. As soon as Abigail saw the open door and the familiar room we visited last week during the open house, she bolted in. "Bye!" I called, a bit desperate. She didn't even hear me. Just like that, she was gone.
One of my favorite parts about the special ed preschool program is how much care is given to the vulnerability of the students. For example, there are specific busses that only pick up the kids in Abigail's class. The day starts and ends at a slightly different time than the rest of the preschool classes, the drop off/pick up location is at a different door than the rest of the students, and the hallways we take to get back to the classroom are not the ones the rest of the students take. In sum, we walked with Abigail to her classroom, but the only other people we passed were a janitor and another teacher. If we didn't know better, we would have guessed that the school was completely empty. Whether your child has sensory issues, stimulation issues, is a runner, or has medical equipment, there is almost no risk posed by a rush of kids and teachers and loud, obnoxious bells.
When I picked up Abigail, she bolted from her teacher and ran straight into my arms. Ms. N told me three things about the first day: Abigail was a big helper, she looked out for the other students, and she loves her baby sister.
When we got home, Abigail was in a great mood. She repeatedly hugged me, she refused to leave Eleanor's side, she was calm, peaceful, focused. It was pretty incredible. But never fear, she woke up from her afternoon nap her old self. I guess Rome wasn't built in a day.
I would be lying if I said I didn't immensely enjoy the silence that reigned over the apartment when I was down to just one little baby. At first I was worried that if I enjoyed my time alone, it would be tantamount to saying I didn't love Abigail. But of course I can love my child and enjoy time away from her. I enjoyed the morning as much as any mother would if someone swooped down and ferried away her toddler for a few hours. I worked out, took a shower, did the dishes, started the laundry, fed and cuddled with Eleanor. It was pretty amazing.
This preschool stuff is really good for her. Her therapists kept telling me time and time again how much she would thrive in that environment and with the great and talented Ms. N. It took me a long time to come to that same conclusion. Lots of prayer, thought, and discussion. And finally I realized that she would thrive too, but I felt like I was admitting failure and defeat as a parent. A vast majority of our family and friends homeschool and we had thought we'd give homeschool and chance as well, but here I was, sending her away at age three. But for lots of reasons that I never shut up about, we chose to give this school a chance. First impression? It was a good choice.