It is the night before kindergarten, and we helped you get ready. (Right here is where I nearly broke into poetry, but the only word I could come up with to rhyme with ready was spaghetti, and that pretty much ruined it for me).
Back to business…
We completed your minion project to bring back to your teacher tomorrow. Your pink hearts and unicorn book bag is packed and waiting by the front door, where we will adjust it on your tiny shoulders just before we leave the house. It is full of all of many things you need, and probably some things you don’t.
We played outside tonight, stealing the last of summer’s glory; soaking up every moment before it was time to come back in. After dinner you climbed up the stairs, step by step, chatting with your dad the entire way to the bathtub. When he offered to rinse your hair, you told him you could do it yourself.
You handpicked your outfit and laid it out on your dresser; brushed your teeth and asked me to brush your hair. Normally bedtime is a little intense. Tonight was no different. Bedtime was accompanied by the usual dose of drama and restlessness; a routine your dad and I are numb to by now. Once you and your sister settled down, we sat on your bed and read The Night Before Kindergarten, a book given to you at your birthday party; and we sprinkled Ready Confetti made with magic Jitter Glitter under your pillow as provided by your new teacher. I hugged you harder and longer than I have in a long time. For the life of me, I could not let go. Then I kissed your forehead, told you I loved you and wished you sweet dreams.
In true Tessa fashion, you are as cool as a cucumber. Not nervous or scared; just poised and ready to go.
How did this happen so fast? From baby to big girl in the blink of an eye…
I asked your daddy how he was doing? He took a deep breath and then another one, and said, “I’m okay.” I replied the same back to him.
As long as you always believe in yourself and know how great you are, you will do big things in this world. We just know it. Promise me that you know it too? Tomorrow is a big day, and you are going to do awesome.
You know those relationships that come into your life and change everything? Most of them time, it is just one person we think of. But in my case, it is an entire team of people who have swooped into my heart and changed my way of thinking. Last week, I had to make the decision to let them go. Not for lack of love. Not for a lack of caring. But simply because we need to go where the wind is blowing us right now.
I am not a fan of change. I do not usually adjust to it well. Routine is good for me. It reassures me and keeps my busy mind focused on a daily plan. This is where Tessa gets it from, huh?
That is the really neat thing about life, you really never know what is going to come your way. When opportunity pops up, you can either take it or run from it. And I have learned that that decision is so much more than simply deciding to do one or the other; especially when we cannot guarantee that the decisions we make are the “right” ones.
I broke up with Tessa’s school last week. I can call it a breakup because it was painful and heartbreaking and I was a serious hot mess about it. Plus every time I thought about it, I just wanted to cry. I held onto Tessa’s open-enrollment at her first school for as long as I could, but it was not until the superintendent called me early last week to chat that I finally broke down and told her the news. We had a heartfelt conversation and she assured me that Tessa will be incredibly missed. I couldn’t even properly thank her for the chance to have attended such an amazing district without erupting into more tears. Shocker, I know… Luckily for my husband, the crying has finally stopped.
This probably looks and sounds so dramatic for a school change, but it just proves how meaningful the relationships we have built there really are. We love this school so much; the staff, the students, the atmosphere, the values of the district…everything. This team of people at her school set the bar so high and blew away my expectations.
Everything I was concerned may happen going into school, didn’t. They took her in as their own and treated us like family. They saw her full potential and pushed her to it; never suggesting that having Down syndrome may hold her back from certain things. Never. Not once. They have done so much for her and for me. This is where she started. They changed a belief in me and ignited a flame in my heart to always push for my girl no matter what.
This team of her’s, so passionate about their roles, has shown us what the right mindset can do. They constantly demonstrate what every child deserves in education. They see her as a child first over her diagnosis and they fiercely believe that she can achieve anything. The power of their confidence in her has made such a positive impact on her life. Because of these values, Tessa accomplished so much with them. This is all we have ever wanted for our daughter’s education–belief of what she is capable of and the chance to see it through.
I could go on forever about her team of teachers, therapists, aides, etc. I could preach about how incredible each of them has been, but I will just assume that by now that you get it. So when I say this decision was incredibly difficult to make, I sincerely mean it. I am guilty of taking advantage of how good we had it there; how fortunate we were to have had our daughter in great hands. Now that it is time to say goodbye, it is hitting me how much we will miss them.
Tessa will be starting at a new school this fall…because our family is moving (again, this is another post in the near future). Not far by any means, but back near my hometown which is just a few minutes away from where we are now. I never really imagined that I would find myself there again, but I feel good about it. It certainly helps that some of our friends and families and their kids are there as well. We have already been so welcomed by the new school. They understand that the transition may be hard for us, but they have reassured us that they have Tessa’s best interest in mind as well as we move forward with them.
While this change feels rough right now, I am incredibly fulfilled about the experience we had at Tessa’s first school and thankful for her team there. I am also hopeful and optimistic about what is to come.