Main Stream: First day of Kindergarten

Their father tackled the purchasing and packing of school supplies with all the care he has learned managing medical equipment.  Lunches have been carefully packed, the jar of formula and Duocal no less lovingly prepared than the neatly sliced peanut butter sandwich.  After five years, the boys are finally going to head off to school together.


Sam, lying in a ball on the floor this morning, confessed that he felt nervous about attending kindergarten at a big school.  As Jack unhooked himself matter-of-factly from his AirVo and reached for a fresh HME, he told his brother not to worry, he’d help him learn how to go to a big school.  I’m with Sam on this one- I feel nervous, too.  I worry about the educational machine swallowing them whole.  I fear that Sam will be encouraged to be unremarkable.  I fear that Jack will be treated as someone who needs to be handled like glass.

For a long time, we fought for a specialized environment for Jack, and Delaware School for the Deaf was the perfect place for him.  At our first meeting last week with his new teachers, the educational diagnostician, and school nurse, we could feel the apprehension in this new cast of characters.  Jack and Sam’s bright, newly constructed  public school has an excellent reputation, but this team didn’t enter teaching because they were called to the challenges and delicate dance of managing special needs children.  Now the fight shifts and we are working to ensure that Jack is treated just like every other kid in the room (despite the nurse that will trundle along behind him like a shadow throughout his school days). It is an odd, off-balance feeling.

This morning, crouched down at the school threshold, I delivered them to their new world with the last fierce squeeze of early childhood- one arm around each little boy.  “Learn lots, have fun, be respectful.”  I straightened, now a lone figure on the sidewalk rather than the hulking, bunched shape of three that I had been for a time.  I watched their heads join the rivulets of black, brown, and blond crowns bobbing and weaving through the doors. Small, bright pebbles in the sand which runs through one’s fingers.  I was reminded of these lines, which I murmur like a prayer:

“Whatever he needs, he has or doesn’t have by now

whatever the world is going to do to him

it has started to do. With a pencil and two

Hardy Boys and a peanut butter sandwich and

grapes he is on his way, there is nothing

more we can do for him. Whatever is

stored in his heart, he can use, now.”

From: “The summer-camp bus pulls away from the curb”  by Sharon Olds

I’m so proud of these two.  They’ve both seen love in abundance, and rules and chores, too.  They both have been asked from the start to contribute to the good of the whole, whether that means foregoing the ice cream to avoid hospitalization, or whether that means getting dropped off at a friend’s house at short notice due to a sibling’s need to be seen urgently at the hospital.  These two have ridden roller coasters together- literal and figurative.  They’ve weathered storms and they bear the marks, some seen and some unseen.  Jack bears the “Survivor Signs” of his scars and differences.  Sam bears a certain unyielding suspicion that he might not be getting as much attention or resources as he deserves.  Both of these are the realities that they must carry.  They are young, but they are no different from everyone else, now- and yet they are so vitally, uniquely their own.

jack and sam 2018

Who will be the one who picks up these pebbles from the sand- so undifferentiated now within this strange, new, mainstream, and holds each of them up this way, that way, and marvels at the facets and tiny, rich worlds within each, polishing and coaxing them to brightness?

There is nothing more we can do for them except trust in them and believe in them.  They have each other.  And tucked away within each is all the strength and love that they will need.


8 thoughts on “Main Stream: First day of Kindergarten

  1. George Huhn

    Thank you, Meg. I was very moved by this post.

    The excerpt from: “The summer-camp bus pulls away from the curb” put into words so perfectly some of what I felt last Saturday as I left Max in his freshman college dorm room.

    It never gets easier watching that bus pull away…

  2. Carol Borsari

    So happy to read your blog and update. The boys look great! The foundations are laid; strong, confident, able boys! Yes, you and John take the credit for all of that!
    And off they go……. ready to take the reins of their lives.
    (My bet is: they’ll show that school and staff a thing or two!)
    xox Carol

  3. Meg, I had just been thinking about you all earlier this week, and wondering how things were going, partly because our Lila is going off to kindergarten on Tuesday, and we were making a list of things she’s excited about and a list of her worries. So it was a wonderful surprise to see your blog post this afternoon. How precious the boys are! And thank you again for sharing your amazing journey with all of us. It sounds like Jack is raring to go and will be there for Sam—so dear! Can’t wait to hear reports. Love Bobbie
    PS I will show Ben and Jackie the poem you referenced. It describes the perfect sentiment to deal with the ache of seeing your small children heading off into the unknown.

  4. Carolyn Grant

    Thank you Meg for sharing your boys and your beautiful written words. I know Sam and Jack will be wonderful, happy people with you and John by their side…..

    Carolyn & “Duffy”

  5. Ruth Gaffey

    Oh Meg
    So well said and all so true…
    Kudos to you for writing this beautiful piece instead of crying in your coffee!
    No one could have done more to give these two boys their excellent start than you and John have. And we all in “ the village” have your back one way or another and will continue to do so.
    My nose is red
    My eyes are too
    All my love

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