Oh, how I love Justin’s school.
Recently I schlepped up north for my boy’s parent-teacher conference, excited as I always am, but this time with a lump in my throat too.
You see, my son, who I swear just yesterday was a toddler, is now less-than-a-warranty away from being a teen-ager, and he’s moving on to an upper elementary classroom.
This means that he will be leaving his beloved teacher and aides, and the actual classroom he’s been in for six consecutive years.
As excited as I am for the switch, just thinking about it makes me verklempt.
I settled in with his teacher at her conference table, thrilled to hear he’s doing well. I was regaled with his progress in math (he did not get that from me,) reading and spelling.
I listened to how much he’s matured on their outings to Toys ‘R’ Us and Target, how he revels in each adventure. I listened to his teacher tell me my son has a crush on a para in another class (so age appropriate!) whom he tries to hug at any opportunity.
I smiled, and chuckled, and didn’t cry once.
I thought I’d make it through, but then she hit me with this. She and the staff are so happy for him to move on, but they all hope his replacement is as smart and loving as he is.
And while I’m thrilled to hear they will miss him, I’m even more thrilled to know once more that they “get him.”
I’m proud that Justin can learn, is mostly well-behaved, showers staff with frequent hugs. I’m also thrilled because this means he’s predominantly happy, an emotion I did not think we’d achieve back in the dark days when insomnia, aggression, and a refusal to eat dominated our world. I love that he loves school, that he’s productive, safe, happy.
It is a priceless gift when you’ve found the right school placement for your child. I know it doesn’t often come easy, that mediation and court cases sometimes ensue when parents are desperately searching for what their child needs.
But whenever you can, if you’re able, fight for what fits your child’s specific needs. Do what you can to make certain your child’s sensory, academic, and communications needs are being met. As much as you can, fight.
Things aren’t perfect with Justin. His OCD can be daunting, and there are still, albeit infrequent, aggressions on his part.
But he is mostly a happy child, and while I’d like to attribute some of that to his innate nature I must give so much credit to his wonderful schools, the teacher and paras who have been so dedicated in making certain Justin achieves his best self.
We couldn’t have made it here without them.
And as I walk back to my car not bothering to keep the tears in check I am awash in gratitude. Gratitude for such devoted staff. Gratitude for what that means for our family.
Gratitude for my boy, just the way he is.
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