For the past weeks I’ve been singing David Bowie’s “Changes” in my head 24/7. No, it’s not just my way of mourning his departure, you see, my brain has always housed a revolving, anxiety appropriate soundtrack, lucky me. (You regulars might recall my Tom Petty phase following Nugget’s kidney surgery – if not, here – go read it and get yourself a few new ear worms.) Anyway, in anticipation of a big meeting this week, “Cha-cha-cha changes,” has been on auto-replay because we’re in for some changes at our house and I’m not ready.
This week we have our Early Intervention Transition meeting which is the first step in the process of moving Nugget’s developmental care from Early Intervention over to the school district when he reaches the big 0-3 in July. After these past months of Nugget coddling, the thought of this transition is enough to throw this Nervous Nelly into a tizzy. Since 3 is clearly the portal to manhood, his team of wonder women will no longer work with him in the comfort of our home, but rather come August, my little chubster is going to school.
While I’m incredibly grateful to live in a place with awesome Early Intervention services that have been in place since the one-eared wonder came home from the hospital it’s all happening too fast. My baby is about to hit the hard streets of preschool, complete with schoolyard fights and smoking under the jungle gym and chances are solid that my kid is the one with the lighter. (re-the fights, I’ve seen him in action and I’d put my money on him in any schoolyard cage match.) In just a few, short months, my little fat man will be taking the bus to his school every morning just like his brother. My Nugget is going to walk right up the steps and get on that bus (Ok, due to his inheritance of his mother’s tree stump legs he might need a little help with the stairs for a while but you get the gist) he’ll be a big kid. This isn’t supposed to happen until he’s at least 5! I need those 2 years to prepare my Pinterest-inspired, first day of school photo shoot damn it!
In preparation for all of this, we’ve been making the rounds checking out our school options and let me tell you, it’s a lot to take in. When I had my girlhood dreams about motherhood, (Ok I never really did that. I was more of a career -minded gal.) I never gave much thought to how one goes about choosing between deaf schools or developmental preschools. With Number One Son we debated between Montessori or Reggio Emilia methods and I was sure that if we chose wrong he’d be traumatized. Now, with Nugget, there is a pretty solid chance that if we choose wrong we really do risk traumatizing him.
Fortunately we live in a city that has two deaf schools, one that focuses on speech and one that focuses on ASL. Because he has partial hearing but no speech, both are options for us. ASL is currently his first language so that’s a solid choice but he’s showing signs that speech is coming (He currently speaks in vowels – “Ooooo,” sometimes he means no, sometimes go, sometimes it’s just oh. Thanks universe, because translating what the Turk means isn’t hard enough.) so that opens up options in the verbal deaf school too. Calgone, take me away.
We’re also preparing to do the IEP. Now for those of you not familiar with IEPs they are a big deal. This is his Individualized Education Plan that should guarantee him what he needs to succeed in a classroom such as an FM system so he can hear better with his hearing aid. Being a teacher, I’m well versed in the IEP biz but it’s a whole different ballgame when it’s your kid. I’m tasked with figuring out what will make my son academically successful when he’s still in diapers. Sweet Jesus give me strength.
And then of course, it all comes down to a negotiation between the school district and us as to what they think he needs versus what we think he needs and as is always the case, money is at the heart of that discussion because they are footing the bill. Suffice it to say, it’s all a bit stressful but we’ve been making decisions that will effect this kid’s entire life for a while now, so what the hell.
Tomorrow, nine representatives and involved parties will descend upon my home to start the negotiations. The Turk is so confused by the whole process he keeps saying, “What if you weren’t a teacher? How would I understand anything? Worse, what if I had to do this alone? “ (Finally, the man sees me for more than just my bodacious bod.) I’ve done my research and for now, I know what I want for my Nugget and I’ve no intention of stopping until I get exactly that. Watch out Hoosiers, I’m ‘bout to get all Philly up in here. “Yo. Yous betta be ready.” Special needs parenting is definitely not for the weak of heart.