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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

From Corn-Up-The-Nose To Kindergarten

The past couple weeks have held many changes for our family. My baby graduated from preschool.
Graduation night Happy Dance
In the past, every time I have a preschooler graduate to Kindergarten, I console myself with the fact that I have another baby left to go to preschool. Not this time. This is the last time I'll have a preschooler graduate. There is a shift coming in our lives. Actually, it's already arrived, this shift. I noticed this past school year that many other preschool moms had other little people in tow- younger siblings who will console their mamas when their big brothers and big sisters go to Kindergarten. Then I noticed that I don't have any other little people. Ella is my last little person. I know this shift comes eventually in every family, but it will take a little while for me to fully come to terms with the fact that my smallest little person is now going to be riding a school bus every week day to Kindergarten. 


Motherhood is hard. I've spent so many years teaching my sweet children, baking with them, playing with moon sand and playdoh, taking them to the park, taking them to preschool, hugging them when they get a boo boo…and now I'm supposed to just put them all on school buses and say "Adios. See you in 8 hours. Hope you find someone else to kiss your boo boos if you fall on the playground." 


Motherhood is hard. I'm going to miss spending my days with my enchanting littlest person. She is (mostly) a joy to be with. Of course there is something to be said for the ease of running errands without strapping a kiddo into and out of a car seat a hundred times. And I can go to the gym without anyone whining about being left at the day care. And I can walk the dog without anyone chattering behind me the entire way. But I will miss all those things. I will miss seeing the world through my little person's eyes as we spend our day living life together. There are good and challenging things about every age, and I'm happy that my kiddos are all growing and learning and changing. A piece of me is just selfishly sad for myself. 

Ella had her Kindergarten screening this morning. The last time we went to a Kindergarten screening was for Aidan, three years ago. Ella was 2 at the time. The week before Aidan's screening, we had had one of the boys' friends over for dinner. Alex had to work late. While I walked the 5 steps from the table to the kitchen to load up a plate with a second helping, little Ella had stuffed her left nostril full of corn kernels. None of my kiddos have ever experimented with putting objects into bodily crevices, so I was shocked when I got back to the table and glanced at my darling and saw yellow sticking out of her nose. I got one kernel out easily. The boys made Ella laugh and another kernel shot out. I peered up her nostril and saw more yellow, and couldn't get the remaining corn out. So I called the doctor. The nurse on the phone asked me condescendingly how long I had been away from the table, that my daughter was able to get that much corn in her nostril. Thanks, like I needed more guilt. 

Ella spent that night with two corn kernels in her nose, happy as can be. The next day we went to have the doctor extract the food from my child's shnoz. He got one kernel out with a device that looked like it should be in a torture chamber, while I held Ella still and she screamed. The doctor could not get the other snotty, slimy piece of corn out. He tossed around the idea of going to the hospital. He sprayed Ella's nostril with steroids to get the swelling and inflammation to go down, and was finally able to get the corn out. 

For the next week, Ella told everyone she met "Cown. Nowse. Doctah. Icky."

When we went to Aidan's Kindergarten screening, Ella stuck several pebbles from a decorative plant up her nostril. You'd think she would have learned. She didn't. Luckily I caught her before she could stuff too many pebbles into her tiny nostrils and I was able to get them all to come out. Without doctor intervention. 

So that's what I thought about today as I watched my almost 5-year-old girl walk into a Kindergarten classroom. Without anything stuck in her nostrils. When the screening was over, the woman who tested Ella pulled me aside in the hallway. She said she was a speech therapist, and that Ella would be screened in Kindergarten for speech because she has some "issues." I said I know, and that Ella is getting weekly private speech therapy. Instead of therapy this summer, she will attend a therapeutic day camp where she will receive OT, Speech, and counseling. The woman said this was all very good, and that they will take a look at Ella in the Fall and see if she needs some additional intervention. 

For some reason, this brought my heart down to my feet. I know about Ella's challenges. She gets therapy for them every week. This is not a surprise. But to hear from a stranger that yet again, one of my children has some "issues," I don't know why but it totally bummed me out. She said Ella did fantastic on the screening, she was lovely, blah blah blah. I know all that too, and all that is true. Ella is wonderful and smart and just lovely. But as the day has gone on I haven't been able to shake this weight of rock in my heart. Ella's speech problems aren't too big, even. But it's enough to warrant getting extra help at school. In the grand scheme of things, this is really no big deal, so part of me is frustrated that I feel so low about this. We have many bigger challenges to face every single day, this one is a piece of cake, I keep telling myself. But I can't shake the heaviness.

I guess it comes back to the fact that when you hear your child is struggling with something, or isn't developing typically, or has a delay or deficit, it makes you sad. And even though this speech thing isn't a really big deal, it's a big enough deal to make me feel like grieving a little bit. It's a big enough deal that Ella will have extra help in school because of it, in addition to our private therapy. So like I always do, I'm giving myself grace and space. Grace to not beat myself up for feeling sad about this. Space to just be and not rush through the grieving that I have to do.
We've come a long way in the past three years. I no longer have a toddler who experiments with putting objects up her nose. I have an enchanting, intuitive, lovely Kindergartner. We'll get through all this the way we get through everything- one breath at a time, one step at at a time. With a little grieving and a whole lot of rejoicing along the way.