October. I can’t believe we’re already here. Six weeks into the school year and it’s like we never left in June. At the beginning of August I felt that familiar tug toward bell schedules, consistency, and real life. But for some reason, I wasn’t as ready to go back as I normally am. It could have been our amazing summer and all the memories we made… or it could have been that I wasn’t ready for both of my girls to start school. I was nervous for them. And us. How were we going to balance everything? And for some reason I decided to take on several new things this year, both personally and professionally. What was I thinking?
Much to our surprise, Charlie quickly took to kindergarten. She loved everything about it, especially the bus ride. For the first couple of weeks, the girls were going to a new caregiver near our house and Charlie was catching the bus from there. We were excited because we knew the girls were going to be well taken care of as the caregiver was very familiar with them, especially Ryan. Plus, we could save a little money. Once school started though, we quickly realized two things.
1. Charlie’s bus stop (and Ryan’s future bus stop) was on an extremely busy road about 8 houses down the street. I emailed the transportation department on several occasions with a request to move the stop down to a safer area near a sidewalk and closer to the house. The only responses were a couple emails saying they got my request and were looking into it. Weeks went by. No resolution. The thought of Charlie on that busy street with trucks barreling down it in bad weather was enough to keep us on edge every day, not to mention when Ryan was to start school and getting on her own bus for students with special needs.
2. Having the girls closer to home, and farther from me at school, was conflicting with our busy schedule of meetings, therapies, and tae kwon do. We never realized how convenient it really was to have the girls’ daycare right next to my school. I had to leave meetings early to basically drive all the way home just to come back the exact same way to make our next commitment.
It was too much. After Ryan’s Evaluation Team Report for school, we decided it was best for our family to go back to the daycare center next to my work. They would be able to transport Charlie and Ryan would be picked up by her bus in a safe environment. Everything seemed to be falling into place. But there was a catch…
Ryan would be first to be picked up and last to be dropped off on her route. It was a 40 minute bus ride both ways. I explained to transportation that she physically could not handle that. She would have to leave early from breakfast and get back late for lunch. I told them that she would fall asleep on the bus, possibly sleeping through lunch, or waking up for lunch but then not falling back asleep for a good nap. I explained her diagnoses of failure to thrive, hypotonia and easy fatigue, and low immunity. If my kid doesn’t eat or sleep well, she’ll lose weight and get sick. Period. After talking to numerous people, I learned that routes are based on time and money, not a child’s needs. Did you know that there are no laws about how long special needs students can be on buses? Well, there should be. We were disappointed but willing to give it a try. Ryan was scheduled to start school on the Tuesday after her birthday…
So why the hell did the bus come and pick her up on Monday and bring her to school, only to be told by her teacher that they were a day early, and brought back? And then guess what? NO ONE CALLED TO APOLOGIZE! We had to find out from daycare. Daycare knew Ryan was supposed to start on Tuesday, but thought they must have gotten the day wrong because why wouldn’t you trust the school? After already having a bad taste in my mouth from basically being blown off by the transportation department twice, I was one pissed off Mama. One must be careful when living and working in the same district, so all I’m going to say is this. I made some phone calls. I got my point across.
Ryan rode the bus for 3 days. She actually liked it but she did exactly what we feared. Her eating and sleeping schedule was completely messed up. She got sick. On day 3, Katie and her mom decided to follow the bus to see the route for themselves. About half-way through the route, the bus driver called the cops because he had no idea who was following him! They ran her plates and once they realized it was Ryan’s mom they “called off the dogs”! Luckily nothing came of that event. After a week of transportation hell, we decided that was Ryan’s last day on the bus.
Katie and her mom were able to get Ryan back and forth to school this week while the daycare was working on providing transportation for Ryan. You may be wondering why that wasn’t already an option since they were transporting Charlie. Since Ryan can’t buckle herself and she qualified for special transportation, they weren’t sure if they could legally transport her. After talking to all the higher-ups, they got the go-ahead and we got the good news! Ryan and Charlie will be riding to and from school together starting Monday!
In the middle of all the chaos, Ryan turned 3 and “graduated” from Help Me Grow. We celebrated with a little party at home with family. It was the first birthday where she wasn’t sick! She loved every minute of it. It was so fun to see her actually wanting to open presents – she finally knew they were surprises for her. She had the best time knowing that all her “people” were there. She kept pointing to everyone individually so they could all be named and when we said the names to her, she was able to point everyone out. I love reflecting back each year and thinking about how far she has come. From those first days in the hospital when we were blissfully ignorant about her diagnosis, to the never-ending nights of painful feedings and barfs, through all the small and miraculous milestones, and finally to today. Today is a wonderful day.