Several months ago, Luke’s Teacher of the Deaf talked to us about Luke attending classes at Moog (our school for the deaf where Luke gets his services) a couple of days a week. Alex and I discussed it and decided that it was something we had to figure out in order to help him learn to speak correctly. Basically, the class is set up as an intense speech therapy session. Luke would work individually with his educator and also work in a group setting with other hard-of-hearing children. Every activity in the class from group time, to music time, snack time, craft time, and recess is geared toward teaching the hard-of-hearing child to communicate with spoken language. In our mind, it was a no-brainer for Luke to attend classes at Moog. We just had to figure out how to make it happen.
Until Luke turns three, the classes are two to three times a week from 8:30 to noon. Alex and I are both working outside of the home and are 30 minutes away from the school and 30 minutes from our house. Moog is also 30 minutes away from our house and the daycare that we currently use. We wracked our brains to figure out what to do and I had MAJOR mommy guilt about not being able to do it all myself. Our best option was for us to drop him off and to hire someone to pick him up from Moog, feed him a lunch that I pack, and drive him to our daycare. Even luckier was that Alex’s stepsister, Ashley, recently moved to the area and is taking evening classes to complete her graduate degree. She was willing (and really excited) to be our transportation for Luke. We were thrilled to find someone who we know will be as careful with Luke as we would be.
The ball started rolling to get everything prepared for Luke to start at Moog. I filled out a mountain of paperwork, dropped off forms at his doctor’s office, obtained a vaccine record, had a meeting to update his IFSP with his First Steps coordinator, bought him a lunch box and backpack, and finalized all the transportation stuff with Ashley, Moog, and our daycare.
Last week was Luke’s first day of school at Moog. I couldn’t figure out why, but it felt like a big deal. Maybe it was all the anticipation? But, Alex and I couldn’t really put our finger on it. It just felt like a new chapter in our lives was starting. The next morning came, and Alex and I arrived early at Moog. The plan was for us to have a parent education session with Luke’s Teacher of the Deaf, Laurie, before the class was going to start. I wasn’t sure how traffic was going to be and I wanted to give myself plenty of time to snap some pictures of the big day.
After completing our parent education, we went to Luke’s room so he could explore while we were still there. Changes in routines are really hard for him, so I knew that there were going to be tears. I wanted Luke to feel a little comfortable in his room before we made our exit. Plus, I wanted to meet his classroom teacher and any parents that were also there. Luke was having a blast going down the slide and ‘feeding’ the baby dolls. Other kids began trickling in and were immediately happy to be there. Alex and I decided it was time, so we gave Luke a hug and kissed his head. He toddled over to the play kitchen and we slipped out the door. There was a one-way viewing window, so we made our way in there to watch him for a bit. Luke looked up and realized we were gone. At the same time Laurie, who he is very comfortable with, walked out of the room. Luke lost it. His classroom teacher, Brittney, picked him up to try to calm him down. Luke kept crying. My face felt hot, and my eyes started watering. Tears started streaming down my face. Alex looked at me and started laughing – he’s so supportive. I made a beeline for my car. I didn’t want the other teachers and parents to see me making a fool of myself. (The school’s receptionist told me a few days later that she was hoping to talk to me the day we dropped Luke off, but I ran out so quickly that she couldn’t catch me.) I wasn’t fooling anyone…
Alex asked me why I was crying. It was the craziest thing, I didn’t know. We take him to daycare every morning and drop him off. It’s not like this is the first time I’ve ever left him at ‘school’. I could see that he was upset, which was hard for me. I hate to see him crying over something he doesn’t understand. I know that he will realize why we are putting him through this at some point down the road – some point far down the road. He needs to be there, even if he doesn’t like it at this moment.
Another part of me was sad that we were even in this position. We were dropping our child off in a class with other beautiful, hard-of-hearing children so he could learn to communicate correctly. Not that we didn’t realize it before, but the reality that my child has special needs played out in that moment. We are ‘jumping through hoops’ so our child will accomplish something that most kids just automatically learn as they grow. Let me clarify, we aren’t upset that we are in this position. We will do whatever it takes to help Luke. We are thrilled with our choice of schools and how much Luke will learn by being there. The staff at Moog love him and want to see him succeed. We are also thrilled that he will be around little friends that also have hearing loss and who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants. Even for a one year old, it is nice to know that you aren’t alone. It’s always comforting to know that there are others going through the same stuff as you.
The past six months have been really stressful, and quite the whirlwind. Luke attending classes at Moog is a major change in our routine and mindset, but a completely necessary one. It feels like we are getting everything figured out for Luke and settling into something that will work. This is our now our ‘normal’, and we are excited.