Monday was a big day for the Boos. Sissyboo had an inset day (or an insect day as she insists on calling them – I wonder what she thinks the teachers get up to…) and so I took her to Chessington World of Adventures for the first time. We had a great time, bumping into half her classmates (great minds…), looking at the animals and going on virtually every ride there. She is just 1.2 metres now, which means that almost all the rides, including some terrifying ones, are there for her to try. And Sissyboo is a trier (like me). Unlike me, however, she is also a daredevil. So when she begged me to go on Dragon Falls, a log flume type thing with a massive drop at the end (how is it safe to drop from a great height in a plastic box on water?) I said ‘OK’ in my best ‘Me? Scared? Never!’ tone of voice.
I spent the whole ride waiting for the drop at the end, heeding the Chessington guide’s advice to put my arms round Sissyboo and get her to hold the empty seat back in front. (The park was so quiet. If half of her school hadn’t been there, it would have felt like Westworld). Anyway, I held her about as tight as I could reassured her (unnecessarily) that it would be OK and not to be scared (she wasn’t) until we plunged at great speed to get soaked in the name of fun. And you know what? It was. Although it wasn’t so much fun that I would agree to her pleas we did it again straight away, I enjoyed it. My little girl is not so little after all.
Back at home Boo was making a plunge of his own. Monday was Boo’s first full day in the Toddler Room at his nursery. Until now, and despite being much, much older than all the other kids, Boo has been in the Baby Unit. It makes sense. No developmental consultant will put Boo past 8 months physical development because he can’t sit independently. Most of the other babies in the Baby Unit can stand before they leave there; many can walk. Boo can’t do either and may never do either, but he is speaking a little and even though he finds them difficult to manipulate, he wants to play with toddler toys: pop-up toys, puzzles, shape sorters. Cognitively we won’t know exactly where he is for some time, but at the moment he seems to be where he needs to be. Which means, as his physio pointed out, that he needs to be with kids his own age. Toddlers. Even if Boo can’t toddle
The nursery has prepared themselves, Boo and us for this well. Staff from the Toddler Room, including his new key-/one-to-one worker visited him in the Baby Unit and observed him doing his daily physio several times. He did lots of visits to the new room. I went in for a meeting with the room supervisor. Boo’s physio went in to talk to the staff in the new room about Boo’s needs and demonsterate his exercises.
But it still felt like such a huge deal. His difference is so visible there. When we dropped him off for the first time, one of the girls welcomed him and made him giggle but looked at us quizzically as we just stood there for a minute. She was waiting for us to put him on the floor and let him walk over to a toy like the rest of the kids, then she remembered this wasn’t Kansas anymore and let us pass Boo to her so she could decide where to put him safely.
When he came home he seemed a bit more tired than normal, but very happy. But I couldn’t shake off my doubts and worries. It’s one thing to be lying on a playmat in a room of babies, quite another when they are running at break-neck speed to the water tray. What would the other kids think of him, I worried? Would they not want to go near him? All I could see was a life-time of difference rolling out in front of him. And it left me sobbing at my desk at work despite the nursery sending happy pictures of him home to us in his daily physio/activity book.
But then I went to pick him up yesterday and saw for myself how Boo is getting on. As I walked through the door, he was giggling furiously. Another little boy (who apparently adores him and brings him toys all day) was blowing him kisses. Another was saying his name respeatedly. They showed me some pictures of what he had been up to that day. He was standing at the water tray, holding himself up on his own by propping.
He was standing up, people! (Ok, he was using the tray like a standing frame, but we’ll take that.)
Then they showed us pictures of him dancing when they were singing earlier in the day. He looked so happy. So at home. The other kids looked so comfortable around him. And then I remembered, 18-month-old children don’t have enough sense of normal to know anything about what’s different. I hope knowing Boo will mean that some of them don’t associate different with bad or defective when they’re older.
So today, when I dropped Boo off, I found myself behaving like I did at Dragon Falls on Monday. My nerves were still there, but I put on a brave face and held on tight until the moment I knew I could let go.
Because my babies are growing up. I will never stop protecting them, but we all need to take a plunge sometimes and I need to let go sometimes, too.