...and she loves it!
My original intention was that Freya would attend school part day, picking her up before lunch so we would not have to navigate that potential obstacle right away. Every day I came to get her she looked almost bummed that I was there.
Then I saw the PE teacher, who is also my oldest daughter's basketball coach. He has known Freya for a few years now and so sweetly asked if she could stay all day on that first Thursday when he taught PE to the kindergarteners. His reason; because everyone would benefit from having her in the class. He has a slight physical disability which must give him a special appreciation and understanding for the differing abilities of his students. I agreed with a bitter sweet ache in my heart to let her go all day on Thursday. Of course, the night before, I sent him a long email politely reminding him of her physical fragility (even though he was at her transitional meeting when I spoke of all of it...ever vigilant us parents of special kids).
She loved being in school all day. One morning, while reminding her that I would be picking her up after lunch (yes, turns out lunch there is great for her) she threw a fit. Crying, yelling, jerking in her car seat...a fit that many of my parent friends would say any kid could throw (though my oldest never did). I calmed her down and took her into class. When I told her teacher about it she quietly said that Freya is doing wonderfully and is welcome to stay all day.
So there it is. Even though it is against my parenting manifesto to send a 5 year-old to school for almost 7 hours a day....I'm doing it.
There are many advantages to Freya being in school; less fighting between her and her younger sister, the youngest, after all those years of being dragged to Freya's therapies and appointments, finally gets me to her self, Freya is making friends and already speaking a little more, the food is actually more controlled because she only gets what I pack for her, there are no seconds, and I believe, she has a sense of independence from her family, and my possible over-concern for her safety, that seems good for her.
But I miss her. And I envy those parents who say, with playful eye rolls, that their child spends an hour after school giving them the run down of every little thing they did. I want that. I want to know who she played with, what book they read, what art project she worked on, what they talked about at lunch, who is nice to her, or conversely, if anyone is mean to her. As it is I only get little snippets that I have to pull out of her. I can't just ask, "how was school?" because the response I get is 'good'. Every time.
So, for now, kindergarten is working. It makes her happy and the teachers say she is doing well. But what possibly looms on the horizon is something that jars my peace of mind when I think of her future with this school. Perhaps, as parents of kids with special needs, it is hard to stay in the moment, without a forward or backward contemplation. We have learned, through experience, that the moment can rupture into chaos and grief in a blink; one ring of the telephone, one heavy sigh from a doctor or frown of concern from a therapist, or sometimes, even a slight relapse in our vigilance.
I will happily accept the good words from Freya's teachers, I will appreciate the positivity from her new speech therapist and take comfort in the small victories (like when she saved some of her popcorn from her snack time for me, and the teacher understood enough to not let her keep it in her backpack for fear of future food hoarding). I will revel in the joy of her present successes, but always with a reminder of caution echoing in my thoughts.