I will not cry when my son goes to Kindergarten. It's not because I'm tougher than other parents or
that I'm cold-hearted. I love my child just as much as other mothers. I simply have a very different experience than some that makes me less likely to cling onto my child's image as my baby. I'm so used to wanting him to grow up and that hasn't changed for me yet.
When my son was born, it was far from your average situation. Every time the little 4 1/2 pound nugget gained an ounce, he was closer to coming home from the hospital. Every pound he gained or inch he grew meant he was leaving preemiehood behind. Only after we escaped physical preemiehood, did I realize that neurological preemiehood is more lasting. Life for us was full of setbacks followed by celebrations
As a baby, my son hit every milestone at an adjusted age, but then at around the 2 1/2 to 3 year old phase we started to notice he was developing a bit different from other toddlers--nothing profound, but just small things that added up. Oh, yeah, and he was hyper as all Hell and easily overexcited. We
Then there was preschool at 3. I wasn't excited; I was scared of rejection for my son. And despite the multiple warnings I gave the preschool director about his delay, he was rejected, kicked out, and not because he hurt anyone or himself, or did anything "wrong." He was too hyper and she was convinced (although not certified to diagnose) he was autistic (he's be cleared by 5 professionals) and couldn't go to a normal school (read about it here).These are when my tears came: when someone judged my son (after 1 day!) and wrote him off as an unsolvable enigma. Friends consoled me that she was just one person, but it wasn't just one person. The judgments and offhand comments came more often than smiles or compliments.
So I worried, researched, took him to professionals, and together we realized he also has a few sensory issues. He cannot sit still and gets over excited for a legitimate reason. He attended a special needs Pre-K with access to therapists. He worked hard. We worked hard. We learned to say he was special needs with pride. His language caught up and he proved he should be in a typical kindergarten. We adapt. We make it work. We are prevailing.
Throughout all these struggles, I recognized how good we have it. Some kids have disabilities beyond what we will ever have to face. The number one thing that breaks special needs parents, as discussed in group meetings, is not their child's lack of skills, not the fact their children may never grow into autonomous adults, but the fact other people judge them and their children. It is an awful feeling of utter helplessness that description cannot give justice.
Throughout these conversations, I also saw a trend in that none of us would exchange our child for a "normal" one. Sure, it would be easier to have a neurotypical child, and yet I resent the idea. I'm so used to the socially unsure, intelligent, creative, hyperactive, mature little man I'm raising that I wouldn't change him for the world. Every milestone he hits, is a celebration. Every new thing he says or does that shows social skills or a life skill, I celebrate. He celebrates.