Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Saying Goodbye to the familiar

Dear Keira,
When you were born you were such a happy content little thing. My transition to motherhood was fairly smooth. Being sick for 9 months while I was pregnant with you was my only major trial. (Never in my wildest dreams had I ever imagined that one could feel so awful and so sick for so long with a pregnancy! ) But that's a story for another time.  Even your birth was fairly quick. I felt no fear taking you home. I have always loved babies as a child and started babysitting at the young age of 11 because I truly enjoyed kids.  I  knew that being a mother was something I always wanted to do. There was no huge adjustment in mothering you. I was in love with your instantly and I just "knew" what to do with a newborn. I didn't feel any major remorse about giving up my nursing career for the time being. I wanted to be with you 24-7. Every mother worries about simple things like making sure their baby gets proper nutrition and sleep and fresh air etc. But life was good. Then when you were 6 months old you got a cold and would not stop wheezing. We became familiar with the nebulizer and assumed it was just a winter cold. But then it happened again and again and you became a chronic cougher.  We took you to  an allergy and pulmonary Dr and you were diagnosed with asthma and we worried a bit. But inhalers and coughing through the winter and oral steroids became  your norm. Even now you just finished a few doses of oral steroids because well its January and this is what happens every January.  Then you became diagnosed with a peanut allergy and I carried an Epi- Pen everywhere and worried about anaphylactic shock. Thankfully you outgrew the nut allergy and we put the Epi Pen away for a few years only to now have to carry it again for Nairi's nut allergy.
When you were 3 you started preschool and we sent your to the adorable little Christian preschool that most Ste Maries kids went to. Immanuel Christian. You were not shy at all and not afraid of new experiences and you did totally fine. Even asking me why some kids cry at preschool because they miss their parents??? You did not understand those feelings at all.  The winter before you turned 5 daddy and I went to a bunch of school open houses and spent weeks agonizing where to send you to school. Daddy wanted 1 school and I wanted another and we finally we able to come to an agreement by picking a third choice.  We wondered and worried and hoped you would like it.
September came and you started school at Saint Benedict Academy.  By October you were reading and we were amazed. A whole new world opened up. You had always loved books and even as a 3/4 year old if I gave you a stack of books you would sit for an hour or more and look at the pictures and make up stories. It was the cutest thing and I remember doing the same as a child too.  So far all of our kids enjoy looking at books and listening to stories but nobody will sit and do that as long as you did as a kid.
In January of your kindergarten year your teacher said you were struggling with your pencil grip and your handwriting was really hard to read.  All kids develop at different rates so we didn't worry about it too much. I made sure to keep your writing all that summer for practice. In first grade you were doing fabulous with reading but continued to struggle with writing and sentence structure. Your handwriting was a really hard to read and you struggled to remember to space your words and add periods and capital letters. Math homework was a major chore.  In January your teacher thought you would benefit from being held back a year. We didn't think that was the right choice but  I needed some answers so I took you to Kornerstone Kids and had a speech and language therapist run some writing and reading tests on you. Your pencil grip continued to be an issue so we also had a physical and occupational therapist run some tests on you. There were some things we had noticed that you struggled with that seemed easy to everyone else. Like using a jump rope or bouncing a ball and catching it. You always seemed terribly uncoordinated. The therapists said in certain areas of the testing ( motor processing) and sequencing you scored quite low. Your brain had trouble learning new motor plans ( for instance remembering all the steps in learning how to  tying your shoes). If it took everyone else 10 tries to learn it it was going to take you 50.  On the physical side of things your motor control scored around that of a 3/4 year old not that of a 6 1/2 year old. Suddenly it made sense why you couldn't open the yogurt squeezers I sent to school for your snack. Or why you had trouble zipping your jacket.  You began weekly PT/ OT and speech ( to work on writing). Last winter I put your name into 2  charter school lotteries that we thought might be a better fit for you ( one was a Montessori school and the other a charter school that uses the OG approach to reading).   You didn't get into either school.
 This fall you started second grade. You  continued PT and Speech therapy weekly all last summer and this fall.  Last month your teacher said you read above grade level and she felt that your writing was fine and normal. We decide you no longer need speech therapy for writing and spelling and hope to turn our focus on your math.  The struggle this year has been math for sure.  Daddy and I have wrestled with the thought of whether rigid Catholic School was the place for you.   You are a very creative out of the box type thinker. You are a dreamer. You love art and creating things. You carry bags of things around the house ( trinkets, lip gloss, books, papers, stickers). Its always been a chore to get you ready for school and out the door. Moving fast is not something you are capable of. Being that I am a ALWAYS- ON-TIME-type of person and a highly efficient practical type of person you and I butt heads alot.   I would also say you are our sweetest and most loving child so far.
Being that it is January again and its school registration time again. Lots of conversations about school in our house again. Israel will be starting Kindergarten in the fall and although he attends Pre K 2 days a week having him in full day Kindergarten in the fall will be a significant jump in cost.  Nairi is eager to go to school too and she will be 4 soon which also puts her at the age where she could start Pre K a few days a week. We both feel like regular public school is not an option. We already attempted charter school. So I printed out the registration forms for you and Israel and an application form for Nairi just in case.  Daddy and I talk some more about it and agree that we simply can not afford to send Nairi. I put her application back in my desk and leave yours and Israel's out on the counter with a check. It sits there for a few days.
 Last Tuesday Jan 6th I pick up the applications again and sit to fill them out.  For some reason I get interrupted and they don't get filled out. Around 1 30 pm the phone rings and its the charter school that I put you in the lottery for last Jan. The school secretary says they have a spot for you in second grade if we are still interested. The spot must be filled immediately though so there is no holding it till next Fall.  We only have 24 hours to accept or reject. There is a long waiting list so they quickly move down the list whenever a spot opens up. We go visit the school the next day and send you to visit the following day. Meanwhile I talk to everyone I know and don't know that has a kid there to find out all the can. You come home happy from your day visiting and said you like the school and would be happy to go there. We talk , we agonize, I lie awake a night wondering if we can make this work. Is SBA the place for you? You make it work but is it the place for you?  This new  school is 30 min away with no bus available.  I kinda loathe driving. I love laundry and loathe driving. Its just the way I am wired. We pray and talk some more. We love SBA. I especially love the teachers. They are a wonderful group. I can't make a decision. Daddy thinks we should send you and see. Part of me thinks you might do better academically in this different environment which is a bit more flexible and a bit more relaxed. Its hard to describe in words though why exactly I feel that way. If it doesn't work we can always send you back to SBA.  The decision has been made for 5 days now and I still lie awake at night. Worrying about everything. Can we make it work? Will you be okay there? Mostly I worry about you not being in a Catholic School. Not learning about our faith. Not singing Christmas songs at Christmas. Not learning religious songs in music and Spanish. You often sing  Marian songs while you play that you learned at school. We love your Catholic school. And so here we are. Friday is your last day at SBA. I never expected it to be THIS. HARD. You tell me every morning you are excited for Tuesday and starting your new school. I feel nothing but dread and fear.  I hope we are making the right choice and I wish I had your excitement for new things. I hate that the oldest child is the "guinea pig" of sorts in so many things.  I pray that you will continue to love God and our faith despite us taking you out of the Catholic  sub culture that is SBA. I hope you make new friends and I hope we made the right choice.  I give my parents credit. I never imagined parenting would be this hard. Making these decisions would be this hard.  We won't know until we try so try we shall!! So good bye to the bus and to uniforms and hello to a car pool, a commute and wearing whatever you want to school. Hoping to find peace with the new normal!
Mama ( and Daddy too!)

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