We got back to Northern Virginia in mid- August of 2013. For the first month we would be staying at an extended stay while our renters moved out and we got the house back up to snuff. It was the beginning of my third trimester with A, and within a day of Joe going back to work I started contractions and was put on modified bed rest.
What followed was roughly 3 months of everyone BUT me taking care of Joshua. He would come visit me in bed and wallow around (his favorite) and sit on my lap downstairs.
What I did do for him during that time was get all his paperwork and evaluations completed so that he would be eligible for special education preschool in Fairfax County. Anyone who has ever done this knows that the whole process is a bummer. Not only are you running this toddler around to assessments, but you're digging through mountains of junk to find a specific paper from your mortgage closing 5 years ago...in the middle of moving. And it takes a long time. From start to finish it took 3 months to get Joshua in that classroom. Meanwhile, he's sitting at home everyday losing valuable teaching time. I'm not dogging the county, they actually do a great job, it just is what it is.
During this time we crossed our fingers that he would qualify for a lot of services. No, you don't want your child to be severe, but you do want as much help as early on as possible. Also, we were really hoping to get him in the classroom before A was born. We didn't want him to think that because she came home he was shipped off to school everyday. Thankfully, he started about 2 weeks before her birth day.
Joshua qualified for the Preschool Autism Class or PAC, which is what we were hoping for. Even though there was a PAC class at the school I taught in before having G, I still didn't know much about it. Oh dear, it's wonderful. Joshua goes to school 5 days/week: 3 full days, 2 half. He rides on a school bus with seat belts with his classmates. A wonderful lady helps him get on the bus and buckle up. Seeing his bus drivers are a favorite part of my day. PAC classes are in regular elementary schools, in normal classrooms. They typically have 3 teachers and only 6 kids. It's amazing! Joshua's class has always been all boys and they are just the sweetest. It's a very structured day, but I'm sure most of it seems like play to him. He gets lots of one-on-one attention from his teachers and has learned so much. By the time he goes to Kindergarten, he will have been in the same classroom for almost 3 years.
I'll never forget dropping him off for school that first day. It was in late October, just after the 2 week government shutdown, which is why I'm guessing Joe wasn't with us. (He had to go back to work sometime!) We had focused so much on wanting to get Joshua out of the house and into the program that we hadn't thought about what that actually meant.
It basically meant that I was dropping my 2.5 year old off for Kindergarten.
Starting preschool can make you a little weepy, but in my experience, Kindergarten is the biggie. They go ALL day, 5 days a week. And it's the start of a journey that ends in them leaving for college. UGH.
|Joshua's first day of school. Oh my word. He was such a baby.|
When we pulled up to school that day, I had to tell myself very firmly that it wasn't about me and my needs to have my baby home with me longer. I had to put aside my emotions and desires to do the best thing for Joshua.
He was thrilled, of course. He loves school! And don't think there wasn't part of me that was relieved for him to go to school. Oh yes. Any toddler is a challenge, but Joshua is difficult to keep engaged at home, and again, I couldn't communicate with him. So those hours every week are surely a blessing.
I'm sure I will write lots more about school in the future, but for today I'll leave you with the picture of Joshua after school for at least the first few weeks.
Back on Monday...which is the start of Spring Break. Lord help me.