Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Lesson #11: Daycare is just the right thing to do (for us)

This is part of the 31 for 21 blog challenge!

There was never a doubt in my mind that I would be a working mom. Some girls imagine themselves taking care of babies and running their households. That was never me. I do all of that stuff, but I also have a job that I love and my kids go to Miss Julie’s house for their daytime care.

I’ll tell you more about Julie when I have a keyboard and I can do her justice. For now, suffice it to say that she has been a true blessing for our family. My girls adore her and her house.

What I love about daycare for Tessa is that she is totally thriving surrounded by older, typical kids. While playing with her sister gives her some exposure to words, movement, big-kid stuff, play at daycare is even more busy and complex. It has been her normal life routine for so long, since she was just three months old. It’s good for her. Case in point:

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Julie sent me that picture yesterday. It looks boring enough, just four kids hanging out around the box of Frozen toys. But the amazing background story is that Ellie and the other two were playing excitedly with these toys and Tessa army-crawled her way across the room to see what they were playing with. Motivation. Example. Acceptance.

She is in the right place.

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In which we begin again

Another school year begins tomorrow. That blissful stretch of open road that lay before me back in May has now reached a dead end. Or maybe one of those intersections where you have to turn left or right into a hectic routine. You can’t continue on the open road of summer forever… not in this house.

In two separate and totally unrelated incidences, my mom and father-and-law turned to me as I was playing with Tessa and said the exact same thing: “You’re really going to miss her this year, aren’t you?” This statement has given me pause because it isn’t something that anyone has said to me before in regards to either of my children. Not when I returned after maternity leave, not at the end of any other summer break… not ever. I adore all of my family members, even my husband ;), so I’m trying to put my finger on what exactly it is about this child that makes the separation more intense.

Basically, it’s because I’m a control freak. I mean, there is that sweet smile that sends us all over the moon (especially me), but let’s be honest here. In seven and a half months, I have missed exactly one doctor appointment and 1.5 therapy sessions out of a zillion. This school year, Tessa will have both OT and Speech at daycare without me. I may have to miss a doctor appointment here and there. And I’m not done training John on how to best keep track of information for me! It’s a forced transition into letting go just a little bit. That’s good for me and my child.

To be frank, my brain needs a break from Google. I spend every spare moment networking, researching, reading about Down syndrome. It makes me a little bit insane. It’s unneccesary. It doesn’t do any of us any good. I am determined to provide Tessa with a quality life with many choices. I don’t want to “cure” her or to change her, but instead hope to create an environment in which she can thrive. I can do that best by giving my brain a break and the best way I can do that is to begin the school year again. So off we go!

And now, cuteness:

Tessa helped us get the room clean in the best way she knows how…

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I just love this picture that my sister took…

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Ellie and Tessa, hanging out as sisters do…

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And finally, Tessa’s first toenail polish…

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The Back Row

My goodness, I love graduation. My squirrelly little freshmen who can’t sit still in Spanish One morph into goofy sophomores and sarcastic juniors and then suddenly they are walking back to their folding chair on the football field, diploma in hand, beaming like they won the lottery.

Every kid smiles at graduation. Every. Single. One. It’s lovely.

My charges were a group of 13 students, 10 boys and three girls (the kind of male/female ratio that I seem to be handed very frequently these days). We were the second-to-last row. I knew most of them pretty well. As we sat in the line-up room, they were sassy, but fun.

“Why can’t I have my cell phone? I want a selfie with the principal.”

“What if I trip on purpose? What if we all do? That’d be awesome.”

“Is this gonna take forever? I’m so done with this school.”

By the end, they were jubilant yet reserved. Sad it was over, thrilled at their accomplishment.

I love graduation.

Still, the ceremony tugged at my heartstrings more than usual this year. Because here I sat, in the second-to-last row, and quietly observed the back row… the row where our “Vocational Ed” Special Needs students were grouped together with their aides. The row where every child in the graduating class with Down syndrome was seated.

Not my child.

Most schools don’t seem to do Inclusion well… especially not high schools. We aren’t near school-age yet with Tessa and yet I already feel like I’m suiting up for battle with an education system that I am a part of. At the same time, I’m really annoyed. Annoyed that I have to suit up. Annoyed that in order for Tessa to have the same access to education that Ellie will get with no question, I have to fight people. That’s obnoxious.

Thankfully, I’ve never minded being a trailblazer for things I believe in. I’ve got some years to build up my armor and I’ll be ready.

Nobody puts my baby in a corner… or a back row… unless, of course, her alphabetical seat assignment puts her there.

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