I was out of sight during a game of hide-and-seek, and Cubby couldn't find me. Just a few months ago, this entire scenario would have been impossible. Before we started Early Intervention, I couldn't leave Cubby. Ever. I couldn't go into another room. He could only sleep next to me. I couldn't use the bathroom alone or take a shower. His occupational therapist began introducing games of hide-and-seek for the three of us at the local playground, and slowly, slowly, he got better. He learned to trust her, and eventually learned to trust that I would come back.
Mummy, where are you? I miss you!
There isn't a day that goes by when I don't marvel at this boy's language skills. His ease at expressing himself and his emotions, so strikingly different from his older sister. I let myself exhale a little. It won't be so hard for this one. He can communicate, he can tell someone else what is wrong. He doesn't rely on me to decode every situation, every adverse sensory reaction.
He made other kids of progress too under Early Intervention. He strengthened his muscles, both fine and gross. He can hold a crayon correctly, he can jump from one place to another. He learned to tolerate being touched, and ask what was making the noise.
But there were some goals we didn't achieve before we moved. He still struggles with waiting and turn-taking. He is still an anxious little boy whose attention span is very short. Most of all, though, he is still a child that can't always play well with others. He gets too overwhelmed. He prefers to sit on the sidelines, observing. For all the great strides he has made, I still worry. Of course I worry- I'm his mother, and he will always be my baby.
As his mother I can do so much for him. I can give him a sensory diet, to lessen his need to spin himself in circles. I can distract him when he repeats things over and over- echoing his sister's echolalia. I can explain things, prepare him, help him understand this at times confusing world. But I can only do so much. What I can't do is be a typically developing peer and playmate.
So today he starts preschool. He is excited. He is ready, but I'm not. I'm afraid that this sensitive little soul will become overwhelmed and will withdraw just as Pudding did when she started school. Recently we've spent a lot of time together, just the two of us. Over a cup or two of rooibos tea, we've talked about school, and how Mummy can't stay, and the teacher and new friends will be there to play, until I collect him before lunch. Every day he asks to go to school. He is ready. I can't hide from it, not when he is seeking something more.
So I stepped out of my hiding place.
I miss you too!
I gave him a hug, and he giggled. Ready or not, here we come.