Thursday, July 2, 2015
I have a gift in my office/nightmare-of-craft-supplies room. It is for Mrs. J, Mae's Developmental Specialist through Early Steps. I wasn't ready to say goodbye in March when Mae aged out, so I kept the gift tucked away and we hired her privately to help Mae transition to the 3 yo room at school. Before long we decided to keep her "as needed". Tuesday we had a meeting with Mae's teacher to address some behavioral issues stemming from Mae not feeling well. Shortly after the meeting began I felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room as it became abundantly clear that we no longer needed Mrs. J. Thankfully Becket loudly pooped and broke my train of thought.
In May she was discharged out of PT. Miss K is our adored therapist. We've gone through speech and OTs, people to whom we said goodbye, but the need to continue therapy left little room to worry about it. Moving out of therapy, that is a whole other thing, and I was unprepared for the sadness of it. As a parent, I am getting therapy too. I am receiving the peace that a professional is keeping tabs on Mae's development, informing me what is good and what needs work, and where we really need to focus and areas we can watch from a laid-back position. I become dependant on the person who seems to adore our girl and celebrate with us her firsts, good and bad. They are the people who rub my back as I tear up because she is sick again, and we can't travel for Christmas again, and my kids won't know their grandparents because we never get to leave this hell-hole place that has no seasons. These are the people who share in my glee that Mae hit a boy who was trying to help her, who understand what a gift it is that she wants to try things until she masters it, and doesn't cling to being helped.
Mae took her first steps in PT. Two, to be exact. I looked with shock at Miss K and said, "Did she just take a step? Miss K said, "TWO! Don't you short her." We both had tears. She was 17 months old. We talked of discharge in December, which seemed like a great plan, but when Mae broke her leg in January, we had a few more months tacked on. I knew it was coming. I knew it was time. I still haven't given Miss K a gift because we go to speech and OT and still see her, and I don't want to acknowledge that we don't need Miss K. Mae doesn't need her, I'm not sure about me.
Mrs. J is in one of our favorite videos. She is having Mariana put tokens into a formula can with a slit cut into it. Mae is throwing the tokens and Mrs. J is wagging her finger saying, "No, no, no. Put them IN." Shortly into the video Mae wags her finger at Mrs. J and says, "No, no, no!" She was 10 months old. Mrs. J tried to show Mae how to crawl properly, so when Mae did it for the first time after she was 2, yes she was walking already, Mrs. J teared up with pride. It was at a potty training seminar that had babysitting and Mae crawled through a tunnel. My first thought was of telling Mrs. J. Mrs. J is the one with whom I would share my fears when Mae was sick all the time. She was the one with whom I would tie myself in knots about school, therapy choices, potty training readiness. She was the one who came into our home and talked to the kids about games they could play. Now I have her gift wrapped and a card written, and it's time to face the truth; we are ready to move forward.
Of all the warnings about how hard it is to raise a child with special needs, not one person mentioned how hard it is to move on from therapy. When someone faces the challenges of life with you, guides you, and gives you confidence when there are so many choices, you become brothers-in-arms. When people can look at your child that most dismiss as all good or all bad, see her gifts and her short comings, and love her deeply, it makes them important and needed. Moving forward is necessary. Mae has to grow more independent. She doesn't need PT to learn to pedal a trike, or to learn to walk our stairs, she needs longer legs. She doesn't need a developmental therapist, she needs a preschool teacher. As a parent, I have to teach her how to move forward even when it's scary and hard, but for now she is teaching me.