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First Day of School~ Just Another Day

by julie on August 29th, 2017

It’s that time of year when my newsfeed is flooded with smiling, polished children all ready for their first day of school. They proudly pose for photos holding up signs or fingers showing the grade they are about to embark on and beaming with pride as they head out the door with their brand spanking new outfits and back packs.

This time of year was once a huge trigger for me. I use to close the curtains to avoid witnessing the steady flow of children and parents walking by our house on the way to school. Our yard backs onto the school property so I continued to be tortured throughout the day with the sound of the recess bell and children laughing and shouting as they played. But like most triggers, it eventually loosened its grip on me. I can now scroll through my newsfeed and genuinely enjoy seeing photos of my friend’s kids starting another year with hope and anticipation of making this year the best so far.

There was a brief time when we thought there was a slim chance of Meredith attending school. To pacify our eager therapists who really wanted to see Meredith in school, we spent some time in the Kindergarten classroom just to see what it was like. Meredith was not tolerating her wheelchair back then and so I held her on my knee while frantically protecting her from the many hands that wanted to touch her face as though she were a baby doll.

Most of the kids stood a distance away and watched Meredith with curiosity. One little girl walked over, introduced herself and handed Meredith a doll to play with. I recall thinking how incredible that was. I imagined that little girl was destined to change the world in big ways. It was stressful but manageable and we took some pics knowing that this would likely be the last time Meredith was in a classroom.

At that time, she was so fragile that just putting a spoon in the sink or closing the microwave door could set her off. Any sudden noise was a trigger for extreme irritability that could last for an hour or more. Being in a typical classroom and school environment would be far more difficult than what it was worth.

Each year, care coordinators would ask if we thought we might enroll Meredith in school. Each year, we disappointed them with our answer. We understood Meredith’s needs better than anyone and knew that school life would be a disaster for her and so we chose to keep her home. Finally, we respectfully asked that it not be brought up again. We assured them that should some miracle occur, we would be the first in line to enroll her.

And so, for those of you about to send your children to school for the first time, I hope it will be a smooth transition not only for your child but for you, too. It is a test in surrender to trust that others will care for your child as you do. For those of you who cannot send your child to school and feel that pang of sadness as you scroll through your newsfeed, as I once did, know that you are not alone and that your sadness is real and valid. Plan something special for your child today and take care of your heart. This day will pass.

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One Comment
  1. Trina permalink

    Ahhh…i remember reading a similar post by you a few years back and I think of you every year as I take the ceremonial first day of school pic on our front porch. I thought of you this morning and I think of you and other parents like you every time I post a pic of my kids playing sports or swimming or heading off to school. I know you would not want people to feel guilty in any way or to stop posting pics of our kids. I know you wouldn’t but I wanted to let you know that because of you id like to think I take a lot less for granted and I’m aware of our different experiences. Thank you for your posts…i love them all

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