September 22, 2004


I should be getting ready to go. My mother is on a plane right now, flying from Nova Scotia into San Francisco. She has a one-woman show at a good gallery and the opening is tomorrow. I wanted to be there. I planned to be there. Iím not going to be there.

Sometimes you know whatís right even though itís wrong. Sometimes you canít choose what you want. Last night was one of those times for me. I stayed awake worrying, going over the plan, wide awake well after midnight. Damian would be coming with me on the plane tomorrow, Dan would join us Friday night. Sounds simple, sounds easy. But with a special needs child sometimes the simple isnít. Damian is doing well right now, yes. Weathering the huge change from special needs preschool to regular kindergarten better than expected. But that doesnít mean heís as flexible, as able to handle the chaos of travel, as another child might be. Not right now. Not in the midst of an emotional, bewildering time of change.

Dan and I talked it over. I got up to call my mom at two a.m. (six a.m. her time). She agreed. It makes sense. Itís the right decision.

This isnít the first time Iíve cancelled a trip on his account. I was going to go to New York to attend a good friendís wedding while I was pregnant. I was going to go to Montreal for the opening night of my brotherís play. I stayed home both times. The pregnancy was too fragile. Later, the baby was too fragile, then the child too sensitive, and we traveled less and for a couple of years we stopped altogether. I read Tiny Coconut describing how she left her seven year old daughter with her parents (Em's grandparents) for a week and I shake my head in wonder. I can't imagine Damian being okay with that. But we do travel with him now, and itís usually a success. Heís mostly a good companion, likes seeing new places and learning new things. But sometimes itís better for him if we stay home. Even if itís not what I want, itís what he needs. This is what it means to be a parent, at least to this child. Not quite the way I pictured it. Worth it, of course. But there it is.

Posted by Tamar at September 22, 2004 01:49 PM

I found your site thru my friend Tad Bitter. I also have a special needs son and know exactly what you are going thru. He should be in his first year of kindergarten but we decided to keep him in his special needs preschool another year.

The hubby and I have a trip coming up next month and we will be away from all three kids for seven days - for the first time ever. We are excited but nervous about leaving our son.

It's hard to know what to do and just wanted you to know that you are not alone.


Posted by: Annie at September 22, 2004 09:11 PM

That's what parenting's about...knowing what will be OK for your kid deep in your gut, and doing what you can, within reason, to give him what he needs. Good for you for listening to that instinct. I've always trusted mine. For instance, I *knew* Em would be fine with her grandparents this summer, and so when she sobbed (and man did she sob) the night before I left her in New York, I was able to be strong; when I picked her up two weeks later, she declared it the 'best two weeks of my life.' But a year earlier? I wouldn't have even entertained the idea. The summer before she started kindergarten, which is where Damian was when I did this? I would have laughed you out of town at the mere suggestion.

But your mom is still coming to town after the show opens, right? I'm dying to meet her...

Posted by: Tiny Coconut at September 22, 2004 10:12 PM

Annie, from the way you describe your son on your site, it sounds like we're dealing with much the same kinds of parenting issues. And we kept Damian in preschool an extra year too. Best decision we ever made.

TC, my mom's coming down Saturday or Sunday and staying the week. She'd LOVE to meet you! Just tell me when! And I'm kind of relieved to hear Em wouldn't have been ready earlier. Though the jury's still out on how Damian will be about such things the summer before second grade. He gets perturbed by the idea that I'll drop him off at his OT session Friday and therefore not be there to wave goodbye to him at the kindergarten gate...

Posted by: Tamar at September 22, 2004 10:41 PM