Among the benefits to having a child with complex special needs is the fact that he gets to have all sorts of “firsts”. Since he misses out on many of the “normal” firsts, the ones that Liam does get to celebrate, we celebrate to the fullest, and as many times as we can.
Yes, we have decided that for some occasions Liam gets to have more than one “first”. He deserves them and so do we. Celebrating so many of the little things is another one of those benefits.
Liam’s first day of school was Monday! It’s his third, I think.
The first was for therapies. In and out in about an hour. Just Liam and his therapists, his nurse and his mom. It happened in a school so we count it as school but Liam hadn’t yet seen an actual classroom.
Months later Liam would spend about a half hour after therapy with the other three-year olds in classroom time with the same teacher he would have this year, but he was really more of a class visitor than a full student then.
This year, because of his summertime health issues and the virus he picked up shortly after coming home, we put off sending Liam to his first day of full participation school a few weeks. Therapies alone for a couple of weeks until monday morning when for the first time Karin and I dropped Liam off at school and then actually had to leave him there for half the day.
It was not a good feeling. I’ll be honest enough to say that Karin and I bickered and argued the entire time. We’ve left Liam alone with his nurse in our home for a few hours every now and then but we have never dropped him off somewhere only to return without him to a quiet and seemingly empty house. A house that until we get used to this fails to feel like a home without the ever-present breathing sounds of a ventilator.
Liam was fine of course. He is accompanied to school with his home care nurse and his therapists there know him well enough now. Like I said he already knew his teacher pictured above greeting Liam for the first time on Monday, so it wasn’t like we just left him with a bunch of strangers for the morning but without any previous experience in leaving Liam, Karin and I are simply not ready for this feeling.
We survived, and this morning things got just a little bit easier. Easier because today was new wheelchair day! Something else to celebrate. Instead of picking him up around 12:30 Karin and I were able to take Liam out of class an hour early to have the DME equipment tech fit him into his new wheels. She met us at the school and with the help of a bunch of specialized tools and his PT and OT he is truly riding in comfort now.
Next week Liam will not be pulled out early. He will stay for both of his half day sessions. He will, I’m sure, struggle to be awake and alert enough for school that early in the morning. The Olson men are not morning people. Never have been and while we are trying to adjust his bedtime schedule to promote a more awake morning time Liam he is resisting the change with all of his might. On that first day of school the sweet little note from his teacher hilariously read that once Liam woke up an hour after school had started, he was engaged and active from there on out.
Only three and a half and already getting notes sent home from his teacher for sleeping in class? That’s my boy! And another first to celebrate.
Editor’s Note: The top three pictures were all taken by Karin. She is by far, the better cell-phone photographer.