“Gosh, this is hard,” the director of the children’s nursery at our church continued, “I have never had to make a call like this.”
I had thought she was calling to ask me to switch my Sunday as the nursery school teacher and had answered the phone with a smile. As the conversation ensued, my smile left. As I felt her trepidation, my heartbeat quickened. I became anxious and worried.
My brow was furrowed. My frown deepened.
“What is going on?” I ventured.
“Well, I was calling to say that Declan is no longer allowed in the church nursery. He is too aggressive and hurts the other children. We tried to put a person with him, one on one, but Declan is too fast and the aid cannot keep up to prevent another child being injured.”
“Oh.” I got out. I knew these things to be true about Declan in general, but no one mentioned them when I picked him from Sunday school the previous Sunday. In fact, no one looked at me at all, or said goodbye to me or Declan.
“I’m sorry,” she continued, “Declan cannot come to the church nursery anymore. Of course, the doors to our church are always open to you and the rest of your family.”
I was blind. My eyes had loaded with tears that had not yet begun to fall.
“I do not want to talk to you anymore.” The most basic thought surfaced and I said it out loud. “Goodbye.” I said, and hung up the phone.
Alone. Alone. Alone.
My gosh, I don’t think anyone can realize how alone we were at that time. The church solidified everything I knew about Declan.
Declan was hard.
Any trip out had a similar outcome. If other children were there, someone was hurt. A trip to the store led to a meltdown of epic proportions. Every time. Time at home was spent for me in a sleep deprived state trying to keep Declan safe as he flew around the house showing me every hidden danger I had never once conceived before for my other children.
But we got connected with services. We got help for him. And for us.
And then he went to his special education preschool.
3 Years, 4 Composition Books
It’s official. The Extended School Year has come to a close and Declan has finished Preschool. Completely.
Knowing where we started and where we are today is such a difference.
Over 3 years 4 composition books were filled – notes passed back and forth between the teachers and I to discuss current issues. Current plans, current ideas.
The teachers and therapists knew it too. And although they knew Declan was hard, they smiled and not once complained. At most, I would get notes asking me to clip his fingernails to make the scratching less painful while they worked to deter the behavior.
My least favorite words to hear for the first two years?
“Have a good weekend!” said by the school bus driver as Declan was delivered back to me on Thursday. There were 3 days without support.
But things changed. For 3 years Declan was supported. Declan was loved and Declan learned!
Declan still isn’t allowed back at our old church. We tried again, but the special needs room closed. And he was denied being allowed back into the regular Sunday School.
That still hurts.
But I am not going to let it cloud my vision of his elementary school years.
We left the world of “he can’t, we can’t” and found the world of “he can, we can.” In the process we found Declan.
I know what Declan is capable of when he is loved and supported. He is 6 years old now, and he is ready. Declan is a real treat and delight and I think they are going to love him!
Declan’s teacher gave Declan tons of well wishes and let me know she keeps his picture with Spiderman near her desk – she says she smiles every time she passes it. And she sent us on with this poem and a tear in all our eyes.
Kindergarten – here comes Declan!