Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Back to School

Every now and then, something will happen to make me realize how far removed we are from "normal" life. As Fall creeps in, you can feel the excitement in the air with everyone getting ready for Back to School and going over their school supply list to make sure they have purchased all of the required tools for their little learners. It hit me this week that I don't have to buy any school supplies. None.

The Grade 3 School Supply List looks like this. It is full of practical things like pencils, crayons, scissors, duotang folders and exercise books.

Our 'Back to School' preparation looks more like this:

- Appointment with Seating Clinic to ensure that Brennen's wheelchair is fitting properly.
- Follow-up appointments with OT and Technical Aids.
- Sign consent allowing the Children's Rehab to share information with the school.
- Fill out forms and sign consent for student assistant time.
- Apply (once again) for "Special Transportation"
(This involves having a doctor fill out paperwork essentially saying that Brennen still can't walk. I'm not kidding.)
- Put fresh batteries in the Big Mac switch, and record a message for Brennen's class.

And finally, fill Brennen's bookbag with things like medical information forms, emergency seizure medication, switches and communication devices, his MedicAlert card, and a fresh supply of antibacterial wipes.

I wrote about Brennen's school experience HERE, and really, it has been great so far. We couldn't ask for better teachers or more caring teacher's assistants. Brennen has been included and involved and loved and supported, and that means the world to me. Every now and then, however, I catch a glimpse of how things were supposed to be, and my heart aches. I walk the aisles of Target's giant 'Back to School' section, and I long to fill my cart with colourful pencils and funky notepads. What I wouldn't give to see my child's scribbles fill the pages of a coiled exercise book, or to argue with him over the appropriateness of his choice of lunch box.

These feelings are fleeting, though, passing swiftly when I think of my sweet boy and all of the joy he has brought into my life. I don't often question "how things were supposed to be", as I am fairly certain that everything is exactly as it is meant to be right now. Watching Brennen grow and celebrating how far he has come.. I wouldn't change it for the world.

These unwanted feelings seem to creep up at transitional moments and important life events, like birthdays, Christmas, and the first day of school. This year, thankfully, the first day back was made a little easier by experience. My heart still flip-flops at the thought of sending Brennen off on his own, but I am quicker to recover than in previous years.

I feel better prepared this year, like I know what we are facing and we have a strong game plan going in. A successful school year is a team effort. Working together with teachers to develop a system of communication and maintaining consistence and involvement throughout the year will help increase our chances of a positive school experience.

New seasons bring new challenges, but Brennen is gone off this morning like a champ. He was welcomed with open arms into a smiling classroom, and I felt confident as I left him there, a little bit sad and a little bit excited by the fact that my baby boy is in Grade 3!

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