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Ch...ch...changes are coming
actually, they're basically already here
It’s cliché to say kids grow up too fast. Clichés exist because they’re mostly true. In this case, it would be more true to say, as a parent, that your perception of time alters in such a way that time seems to pass more quickly, which makes it feel like your kids grow up too fast. I mean, all kids grow up at the same exact rate. They get older by one year, every year—just like you do.
But I digress.
I’ve been thinking about this because a few milestone events have been happening in my family.
I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but my stepdaughter Sara started high school this past week. It was one thing when she was in elementary or even middle school, because I can hardly remember much of that time in my own life with any specificity. But high school? I remember a lot about my time in high school. This means she’s getting to the point where many of her experiences during this time will be etched into her memory for life. And this means that she’s rapidly approaching adulthood, which means that I don’t want to think about what that means yet.
Starting next Tuesday, my daughter Em will be starting kindergarten. All I remember about kindergarten is a vague memory of what my classroom looked like, which probably isn’t all that accurate after all these years. I have no idea what my teacher’s name was or what activities we did or anything like that. The one thing I do remember was that there was one boy who was caught eating paste a bunch of times.
Em’s kindergarten class will be much different than mine. She has severe cerebral palsy, which, in her case, means she’s unable to walk, talk, eat by mouth, or even crawl. This means she needs an adult aid and a bunch of different medical devices (for sitting, standing, walking, learning to communicate, etc.). It’ll be different in another way too: her class will have other kids with disabilities, some of which are as old—or older—than Em’s big sister Sara. The great thing is that we can look forward to her spending many years at the school and the teacher and aids will all get to know her—and us—extremely well during that time.
The other big change with Em’s school is that she’ll be picked up by a bus (which is actually a Toyota Sienna van with a ramp just like we own) each school day, at which point we will wave goodbye to her and not see her for roughly the next seven hours when the bus returns to our driveway. After spending the better part of the last school year driving her back and forth from preschool, it’ll feel strange to send her off for the first time next week.
Before that all goes down next week, earlier this week we were able to do something else that was kind of a big deal: my wife Allison and I spent the night alone together without Em. It was the very first time we’ve been able to do that since Em was born over five years ago. It was made possibly by an incredible organization called George Mark Children’s House, which is a respite home and the first pediatric palliative care facility in the United States. I dare you to not get choked up watching their promo video.
During her stay, Em got to visit with a therapy dog, listen to a music therapist sing and play songs on the guitar, do some relaxing water therapy, and hang out in this cool sensory room while she listened to her Spotify playlist.
While Em was getting the royal treatment, Allison and I drove over to Half Moon Bay. We spent the day eating some tasty fish for lunch and walking down the California Coastal Trail watching the pelicans divebomb for their afternoon snack and listening to the seals barking and the seagulls squawking. Then we spent the night at a hotel overlooking the harbor, skipping dinner because we were still full from lunch, and trying to not just talk about the kids. It was a much-needed night to connect with each other after five-plus years without being able to truly be off duty. And now that Em is approved to go back there up to 21 days per year, we’re already trying to plan her next stay(s).
Now, I’m sure this sounds great and all. But there’s one problem. We think Em liked it there too much. She’s usually a chill kid and goes with the flow, for the most part. But ever since we picked her up, she’s been grumpy and whiny. Since she’s nonverbal, it’s difficult to parse exactly what she’s trying to communicate, but it seems like she’s trying to tell us that we’re boring and she wants to go back. I feel ya, kid.
The last big change going on recently is all about me. Starting next week, I’m moving into more of a full-time role with Foster! We have a very unique way of working as a collective, which meant I was able to write a proposal for my role and responsibilities, which meant I was able to name my role whatever I wanted, which meant I went with the title of Smooth Operator (shout-out to Sade). I’m excited and passionate about what we’re working on. If you’re a writer, you want to become one, or you just want to write more often, I think you’ll be particularly interested. I’ll have more to share about it soon.
We all know change is inevitable in life. But sometimes it feels like a bunch of big changes happen all at once. We also need to remember that humans are adaptable and those big changes will eventually become normal. Until the next set of changes comes along.
What big changes are going on in your life? Hop in the comments and tell us about them.
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