Yes, it’s true, Apollo’s hair is cut and he is getting ready for Kindergarten. Why? Why after homeschooling for so many years are you suddenly packing your youngest off to kindy? It’s a fair enough question with a complicated answer. So here it goes.
One of my first thoughts when Apollo got his feeding tube and we were told he would likely need it for years (maybe even for the rest of his life) was, “boy am I glad he won’t be going to school and I’ll never need to deal with a feeding tube and school“. So, yes, it feels odd to be in this position….but here’s the deal. Could I homeschool Apollo? Of course. I could teach him to read (he is so close!) and count and add and subtract. He could bake with me, go on walks with me and take trips to the library with me. But I know, deep down, that would not be best for him right now.
Apollo, despite being the youngest of 14, has had my undivided attention more than any other child (my firstborn included). Apollo is very attached to me…in an unhealthy way. He still doesn’t sleep through the night. The psychologist we saw back in December 2013 explained we can’t expect him to stay in bed all night alone if he never has a chance to practice being alone (i.e.: without me) during the day. He only wants me at bedtime. And he usually falls asleep with his arms around my neck and his legs clinging to me like a little monkey. Sweet? Yes. Endearing? Yes. The best thing for a five-year old? Probably not.
Apollo’s anxiety spills over into everything. When his siblings were off at school this spring, he was terrified to be alone in the quiet house with me. He wouldn’t sit across the room from me. He wouldn’t even sit beside me on the couch, he had to be on top of me. He wasn’t exploring or experimenting as a four-year old should. He was missing out on life because he was afraid to touch the floor! We have been doing what we can to work on his anxiety. We started sending him to Sunday School at church and to his own class at MomSpot twice a month. This has been hard work for him, and he has made mild progress, but needs more “practice” away from me.
Apollo at Texas Children’s Hospital in 2012.
At school he will have a bus ride with his siblings, a school day with other kids. He will eat away from his family’s watchful eyes. He will learn to be a kid, not a medically complex sick kid. This is so important for him right now. Out of necessity he has always been treated differently. We have catered to him and made him the center of everything (because we had to for his survival).
When you are in the hospital for 10 days with a two-year old, he is going to be the center of your universe. Of course he is! And that is as it should be.
But what does Apollo need now? He needs to know he is safe without me or a sibling in the same room with him. He needs to learn to take ownership of his hunger and meals. He needs to gain the confidence to learn and explore. He needs to overcome five years of not just being a kid. School for Apollo will be therapy.
Just don’t tell him that.