Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Sunday, January 06, 2008
Archer's speech delay has kind of, in a way, made it difficult to see Archer as anything but a baby. A toddler. We don't have conversations yet and even though he is slowly able to express himself, we were recommended Archer start Preschool early as a way to jump-start his speech. (Early Intervention covers the expenses for kids with developmental delays until age three. On Archer's third birthday he will be re-evaluated to see if he still qualifies.)
At first I was against the idea. I was afraid that the other kids wouldn't understand when Archer couldn't talk back to them. I was afraid of a lot of things: What if Archer hates it and no one there understands his sounds and he's unable to communicate... But over time I realized that, yes, it would be a good idea to put him in Preschool early. Because although I want him to go at his own pace I also see the need to put him in a position where he has to speak... In order to make friends and learn and grow up. Be a little boy.
Archer's really tall for his age. He looks older. He looks the same age as the children in his class. Three and four-year-olds, children who are potty-trained, kids who can count to twenty and sing their alphabets no problem. Things Archer cannot do... yet.
It isn't easy to look at your child and then say to yourself, "yes. It's time he grew up"... In fact it's painful, heartbreaking. Not fun at all.
I packed Archer's lunch hours ago, filling it with enough food to last him two days. I burst into tears picking the tofu out of his orzo because I didn't feel ready to pick tofu out of his orzo for his school-lunch. And I started to panic realizing that Archer doesn't know how to unzip his lunchbox himself, which is an insane reason to panic because he will have teachers to help him. That's what they're there for, right?
But... But... BUT!
What if he's thirsty and can't ask for his water? What if he needs some help with wiping his face after his meal? What if he doesn't understand what the teacher's are telling him to do? What if he needs a diaper change and the other kids laugh, because he's still in diapers?.... A thousand questions blew through me like a wind until my head was spinning so fasr I had to sit down to avoid falling over.
I suddenly felt awful. Like I was sending my son out in the rain without an umbrella. What if we were wrong to think this would be a good idea?
"I don't want him to go to school tomorrow," Hal said, earlier today.
"I don't either."
"Do we have to send him?"
And then I thought about it. I thought about Archer surrounded by older kids. Kids advanced for their age and kids behind. Kids who pee in the potty and kids who don't. Kids who might pick on him for being different and kids who might see him as a friend. Kids who might teach him. Guide him. Aid him. In his growth. In his change. In his ability to transform, evolve into boy.
"Yeah, I think we do," I said.
"He's just so..."
"Yeah. I know. That's why it will be good for him."