If someone had told me four years ago that Aidan would make it to primary school, I would never have believed them. It is such a testament to the hard work of his medical staff that he has survived this long and we are truly grateful to be able to mark off this important milestone.
Many people have been asking me how I’m feeling about the day and to be honest I don’t really know. While most other mothers shed a tear when their child starts school, I’m kind of finding it hard to relate. Rather than a kiss and a wave at the front gate, starting school for us required an hour long training session with Aidan’s teachers which placed Anthony and I in the role of nurse rather than parent of a kindy kid. Talking about feeding machines, resuscitation procedures and when to call an ambulance kind of took the magic out of this momentous day (the fact that I had to rush off to feed Ollie in the NICU also took the shine off the day).
It didn’t help that I feel completely uneasy about Aidan going to school at all. You see, in my eyes, Aidan is far too young to start school and would be better placed going to preschool for another year where he would be physically and developmentally the same as his classmates. Unfortunately, the law is the law and if we want Aidan to interact with other children, then he has to attend primary school.
Like most parents I have the normal fears of whether Aidan will adjust to school and make friends but for the most part my biggest fears are around his immaturity. I went to great lengths to explain to his teachers that he is developmentally delayed and therefore prone to toddler tantrums in the hope that they will not judge him (or me) too harshly for his behaviour.
There’s also an element of self-pity which raises its head far too frequently these days. I would so love to only have to worry about whether he can tie his shoelaces or not, but sending Aidan to school is far more complicated than that. I am anxious about whether his teachers will recognise the signs he is ill and call an ambulance in time, I am worried they won’t be able to cope with his machines and I’m worried school will be far too exhausting for him and make him deteriorate quicker.
Fortunately, Aidan has had a great first day and is happy to return tomorrow. He has handled the transition so well and I know he will adjust to his new circumstances far quicker than I will.