learning to navigate the world, j-bear style

Tag: school days

My Preschooler


Welcome to life with J-bear. He attended his first day of preschool today. I decided that him only staying til 12:30 was likely the best bet for him since he’s never had anything like a full day of school before.

Turns out, he did pretty well!

He struggled with transitions but recovered well it seems. He even went to the gym without melting down from what they said. It’s pretty awesome to hear that knowing how he struggles with places that echo.

The fact that his teacher and the classroom aides have this amazing sense of calm about how they manage the classroom is likely a huge part of why they’re succesful. Despite every child having very different needs the classroom had no air of chaos whatsoever. Everyone seemed well attended to and well cared for. This makes me feel better about the year to come. I can see him truly flourishing in an environment like this.

Next week will be the true test as he starts to get into staying even longer days and such but I think this will slowly start to work out just fine.

At least I hope it will, anyway.

What a Day

The meltdowns, they return.

He hinted at their resurgence this morning when, upon arriving at his new school, he realized that he would not be going out to play on the beautiful play structure they have right beside the preschool classrooms. He was livid at being “forced” to enter the school and visit his classroom to meet his teacher, aides and classmates. One of the aides from the summer classroom happens to be the secretary at his school so seeing her helped.

I would like to thank the brain trust that decided to put a gorgeous, fun, appealing playground structure outside the preschool classrooms at J’s school. The preschoolers are absolutely forbidden to play on it. You must be in kindergarten or older. Let’s ignore that the exact same structure is at every school in our town and he was allowed to play at the one at summer school. I feel pretty awful for the teachers and aides having to explain to all these 3 and 4 year olds that nope, as fun as it looks you must NOT go near it.

Good times.

Anyway back to our story – He came home, had a brief nap and then we were off to therapy. The poor guy, something really does seem to be going on. He was so very spaced out and at one point even bodily moving him did not get his attention to return. I had to wait til he tuned back in to ask him to hop into the car. He continued to be a little spaced out during therapy though he did a good job meeting his new speech therapist.

Then we went to the grocery store.

Big mistake.

He screamed pulling into the parking lot. He screamed getting out of the car. He screamed going into the store. Once we were in the store I stopped with him and our carriage the first place it was safe to do so. I let him stim against the side of the carriage to calm himself but even with timers and transitional warnings, he wasn’t transitioning away from it. He melted down completely. Now, this is not the time to give a stranger unsolicited advice but of course, someone did. I ignored it the sheer stupidity of it, for they had no clue my son wasn’t just being an angry three year old, he was dealing with oh so much more.

I did all I could to stay calm and not cry. I succeeded, mostly. Very close to completely. I got him settled with his iPad once he relented to sitting in the cart and raced like my butt was on fire through shopping.

These are the days that are hard. These are the days I want to tell all the things that make my son struggle to jump off a ledge. I cannot however separate the good from the bad without losing that which is intrinsically J, so I will take the bad with the good and hope people keep their weird advice to themselves more often.

Preschool and Mama’s Trust Issues

It’s an ungodly hour of night and here I am sitting at my blog. Smart, right? Especially given that his royal J-ness is usually up with the sun.

It happens. It’s no big deal.

It is less than a week now until the first day of regular preschool and the nerves have yet to truly set in. Honestly, I think I am in denial. Yes, he did go to summer school this summer. It felt a lot like camp. It was brief, it was a lot of fun to him it seemed, it was over before we knew it and now here we are. School, proper school with all the other kids, seems so… formal. Serious. Real.

He and I did games and painting today, spending a lot of our time playing and practicing words and generally puttering around as we do on days we (well, I) don’t feel like leaving the house. We tried dot painting on the easel and when that turned into a major excursion on the fail boat we changed to traditional painting. He made circles and smudged colors and generally made a mess.

It doesn’t matter though. He was happy. That was the goal.

Now, our days of doing these things will decrease dramatically. Sure, we can do our usual silly stuff on weekends or during afternoons but things are going to change, and change starkly. I know he is ready, even if he doesn’t quite know it yet, but am I?

He’s my baby, my one and only. My precious little guy who I have held the hand of through every little thing. I can guide him and support him on his journey through school but I cannot go through each day with him as I have through all else in his life thus far. I think that’s where I am hanging up. Strangers, who I hope will become partners with me in fostering the growth of J, will have charge of his days. I have to trust them with his care.

That’s the hang up. Thanks, blog slash psychologist!

Trust… It is something I do not do easily if I do it at all. Now, he who is most precious to me on this earth will be entrusted to people who are strangers to me. I have met one of them at least, and I feel she could be good for J, plus I know the therapists to be reasonably competent but none of that is trust. How do I know they are going to understand him? How do I know his needs are going to be met? How can I be sure that his determinedly independent way of being coupled with his general good nature is not going to leave him overlooked because he’s simply not always as demandingly loud as other children can be?

I am scared of him feeling hurt, frightened, lonely, overwhelmed, neglected… Any of these things.

I am also scared of shadows that don’t always exist. My brain is dark and full of terrors, much like the night George R. R. Martin describes in his “Song of Ice and Fire” books.

A part of me knows he will be alright. It’s just hard to let that part of me overrule the hyperventilating, worried for my boy, the sky is falling part of me all the time.

Hopefully he lets me take pictures next week. I didn’t remember to/get to do that during the summer session and look forward to trying when he goes to his first day.

Alright, shutting up and going to bed. Thanks, blog. You’re better than a therapist sometimes. Also, in that vein, does this count as talking to myself and, if so, am I just proving myself increasingly crazy? Only time will tell, internet. Only time will tell.


Kind of adrift, mentally. There’s always things I should be working on. I am getting little things done but major things seem to require more energy than I possess. It’s a mental state thing. Gotta power through.

Little boy is doing alright without the cast. He spent much of yesterday holding his arm in the same position the cast had held it. Today he was more loose with it and used his left hand a lot more, which is good. I am eager to get him writing/coloring again to see if he was truly as left hand dominant as he seemed pre-cast or if he has turned right hand dominant. He has tended to be pretty ambidextrous so far so he could just end up being that way again for a while.

I’m feeling defeated in a lot of ways. I feel like fundraising is turning out like so many other things have in my life: I pour in my heart and soul but, the moment I did that, life threw everything into chaos and made success seemingly impossible. It hurts twice as hard in this case because I am used to losing things/missing out on things but I am not as easily able to handle my son being in that position. I know a lot of this is just my bleak mental place of the now but I have to wonder how much is just harsh reality. I feel like we’re never going to succeed with raising this money and if we do, we’ll never succeed with raising the money to get to Ohio to train and bring home the dog.

I am Sister Suzy Sunshine, aren’t I? My stars.

J starts pre-school next week. I think him starting school will help me in a lot of ways. I’m nauseated thinking about him spending a full day there yet I know that while he’s there, he’ll be getting so much of what he needs and I’ll be allowed to work on a lot of sorely needed things around here. I can clean, plan for the yard sale, contact people more freely, even enjoy a shower without complete fear of what he’s doing while I’m not looking. I can take care of grocery shopping, laundry, all kinds of things that just seem absolutely crushing to sort out the logistics of when it’s the Me and J 24/7 show.

That brings guilt, of course. Am I a terrible parent for being eager for the time apart? I’d like to think I’m just being human and, I know after a short while of it I am going to miss him. I’m already missing the freedom to plan outings for any old day and time, that much I know. September and March are the best months to try to get in to see the museums and such in Boston and now that option is off the table, but we’ll be fine. We’ll figure times to go out and we’ll be alright.

I should wrap this up before I become anymore mopey! Maybe I should put up a feedback form so people can drop subjects/writing prompts into it and kick myself into writing more. Maybe I should just go eat a cookie. Like my surgeon, who I see tomorrow, would be thrilled with that. Hopefully tomorrow she gets to tell me all my axe wounds are fine and I can be left alone til someone has to axe wound me again someday.

I have a what?!

Today, little bear had his first day of school.

For those unwise to the weather of where we are, if they even know where we are, it has been hotter than the devil’s armpit for over a week now and we’ve all been slowly melting off the planet. Most homes in this area were not built with central air conditioning in mind so you can imagine how miserable some of us (ME!) are. This had me so worried about J’s first days of school because he overheats in the blink of an eye. He’s getting better about realizing he is thirsty but if you turn your back for a second it seems he turns red and looks about to faint. It’s not fun.

Now you’re equipped to imagine my excitement upon walking into the school to find their air conditioning had broken. It was dead as a dead thing could be and those classrooms were stuffy. However, his teacher greeted him warmly and he had two familiar faces in  his classroom: the BCBA for the school and a little girl who was in group for a few weeks with him. He cried going in, cried entering the classroom, cried as he remained in the classroom without any of his people. 

Now, cut to 11:30 this morning. 3 hours after dropping him off, I returned to pick J up. All of the other children come jogging out to their respective people, happy as can be. J is happy too, but unlike all the other tidy children I ended up with a runaway from the Lord of the Flies. He was covered with sand and marker. It was hysterical to me. Only J could leave his first day of school looking like that. He did well though and the sand kept him from melting down non-stop about being at school. Tomorrow, I hope, will be even better.

It dawned on me as we drove away from the school that holy cow, I now have a kid. I no longer have a baby (that ship sailed long ago), I no longer have a toddler or any other variation of tiny child. I have a full-fledged kid. It’s like by walking through that door this morning he was accepted into the Secret Order of Kid-dom and given all the rights and privledges thereof. Let me tell you, it feels weird.

He is my baby of course. He’s my little pickle boy and could be a 6ft linebacker and I’d still likely see him that way. It feels weird to no longer see him as so small a child and I cannot quite put that into words. It’s as things should be and of course I want to see him grow as I am so eager to know the person he will grow to be but part of me mourns for that which is past and done now. I miss snuggly baby cuddles and sweet toddler antics. I miss the unsteady steps and the uncertain view of so many things this world has to offer. I love the little boy in my house right this second, but this is going to take a lot to get used to.

Like a true bad parent, I only took one picture and as a staff member is in that picture I’m not comfortable posting it. I will take more as the weeks wear on.


A fundraising update: I am submitting the information to Mabel’s Labels tonight! They have worked with 4 Paws families before and I am excited to add this to our fundraising fun. 🙂

Mabel’s Labels Are Go!

J-bear starts school on Monday. That means Get All The Things Ready.

Backpack? Check. Lunchbox? Check. Extra set of clothes? Check. Diapers? Check. 

You get the picture.

As I was approaching this situation I realized I was going to be writing on a LOT of stuff with sharpies. Little kids lose stuff. It’s part of being a little kid, or any sized kid. J has to bring cups and/or a thermos with him every day as he only drinks milk so those need to be labeled, his sandwich container needs a label… Heck, even HE is labeled via a tag on his shoe!

Now, I could have gone the sharpie route but the writing is not always easy to read. I could have gone the embroidery route in terms of his backpack and lunchbox, but even though I sprang for LL Bean products I didn’t truly want to put his name that loudly on every single thing. Then I remembered it…

Mabel’s Labels

This is a company made by four moms who know the frustration of their child’s things leaving the house never to return again. They created fun, durable, washable and reasonably priced labelling products to help busy parents like me and busy households get their stuff to come back home again. I heard about these labels when J was a new baby but forgot about them til a couple weeks ago.Image

Now, when the labels arrived today I was not sure what to think. Once I opened the envelope though I knew I had made the right choice in bringing my business to this great company. The labels are beautiful, bright, cheerful and clear. I have more than enough of them, plus in a great variety, to get through the school year and even beyond. I am excited to truly test them out in terms of their dishwasher safeness but so far, I am very sold on these products.

Now, in the spirit of true honesty I must state this outright: I bought these labels. I am a paying customer who is very, very, very happy with my purchase. This may seem a goofy way to seek to simplify my life but if I have to write out one less thing in the course of a day my hands, they are so much happier for it. If Mabel’s Labels can do a fundraiser with us to help fundraise for J’s service dog, would folks be interested?

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