I can't believe summer is over, my tiny newborn is two years old, and preschool starts this coming week. Many families agonize over the type of preschool their deaf or hard of hearing child will attend. We don't have that worry, because we don't have many options. In our area, there are no oral deaf schools, no cued speech schools, and no bilingual ASL/English schools. There are three mainstream preschools in our area, and only one has a program for two year olds.
So for two hours on Thursdays, Nolan will be attending First Covenant's "Two By Two" program. I did this program with Matthew, and it is a wonderful program specifically geared to two year olds. As a side benefit, the parents get to go upstairs and have a snack and coffee during the program time (adult conversation is a very big thing in my world).
While I have done this program with Matt, this time it is different. For one thing, Nolan is my baby. My sweet, cuddly, still-missing-eight-of-his-baby-teeth baby. He's also small. Those jeans falling off his waist in the photo above? Size 12 months. The ten month old at today's softball game was the same size as my two year old, so his size makes me a little more protective. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does- he gets knocked over easily and isn't as "sturdy" as a lot of the other two year olds in his class will be.
And then I worry about how well he will hear in his classroom, with 11 other children, tile floors, and poor acoustics. No TOD, no FM System, and no one trained in educating or working with a child who may not hear them well at all with all the background noise.
I worry that the other parents will judge the whole potty training issue, which we haven't started because of some physical issues related to Nolan's PUV's. I dread the talk of toilet training and how everyone else has a great method that works lickety-split.
I worry that he will spit out his food at snack time, or spit up. Or choke and gag, as he sometimes does. That he will start one of his crying jags, which we now know is caused by a reflux event. I worry that the other teachers won't "get" that his eating issues and behaviors are related to a medical problem.
Some people have told me that Nolan starting preschool is no different than when Matt started preschool. But it is entirely different. On-a-another-planet-different. I'm not worried about him learning his colors and shapes, as he already knows these. Hey, he even knows many of his letters and that his name starts with an "N." No, I am worried about him, as a person. Will he socialize well with the other kids? Will he separate from me easily, or has he been scarred from so many medical issues in the past few months? Will he panic? Being the smallest one in the class, will he be babied too much?
We have an "orientation day" and I am going to meet with the preschool director (who personally teaches the Two-By-Two class) to discuss all of my worries. To show her his audiogram and explain that yes, he talks very well. But he doesn't have the concept of "yes," he doesn't answer questions without help, and he might not be "getting" what you have told him, even if he follows along with the other kids.
That first day is going to be harder on Mommy than it is on Nolan. I know, deep down, that he'll be just fine. The first few weeks might be rough, but he'll find his wings, dip them in finger paint, and get messy and be happy with the other kids.