I'm not sure what to be. Sad or happy. On the one hand, we drop Allie off at school and the separation anxiety of parent and child is excruciating. On the other hand, the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have not had any time away from Allie in over two years except on about three very rare occasions. So now we can (and are) getting reacquainted with each other.
The day works like this: we get Allie ready for school knowing we'll have time on our hands to really get things done. And we're excited. Then we get her dressed, and reality hits us: Oh no! we have to give her to somebody else. We put her in the stroller and it feels like we're just going for our morning walk. Then I'm driving in the car and I almost (I said almost) burst into tears knowing she's going to have to figure out how to get along without me. I turn into the parking lot at school, get her into her stroller again, steel my nerves, and roll her through the double doors. I park her with the other kids. And it hits me: I get to leave her here! And, like Flash, I'm a streak of light bolting out the door.
The guilt never seems to catch up with me. I leave it in the parking lot and enjoy time with my wife or dig into projects at work with blessed few interruptions. Allie's attendance at school has lifted a huge burden from our shoulders. We know she's in good hands and is improving every day. The guilt and sadness over leaving her is diminishing more quickly than we imagined.
This is video of Allie in her new, cheap highchair. This is her third high chair. It's not easy to find one for a three year old.
In the picture below, you can see where I got busy with a drill, saw, and razor blade to modify this chair and install a strap. In the video above, she's strapped in with a belt from my closet.
In this picture Allie is standing tall. The pink vest she's sporting was given to her at school. It stabilizes her torso and keeps her back straight and head up. She is also wearing ankle braces shoved into over sized tennis shoes. She practices walking in physical therapy at school.
This is how we found Allie today when we arrived to pick her up this afternoon. Usually when I walk in, I listen for my crying little girl and hone in on her howls. She's used to taking a nap at eleven so by her 12:15 pick up time, she's done. Today, we walked in and she was in front of this computer monitor glowing with brightly colored backgrounds and animated soap bubbles floating across the screen. Allie uses her hands to trace their track trying to touch them.
Fixed to the frame of her stroller/chair was a big red button (like and "Easy Button") within reach of her right hand. When Allie sits for awhile in her chair, she starts fussing. A teacher will then start rocking her in her chair to calm her. She likes the movement. So this button is connected to a speaker that says, "rock me, please." So instead of fussing, Allie just pushes the button. I was amazed that she got this in just one morning. She can't talk, but she can use the button to communicate.
Ever since our first interview when we got back to town, these educators thought Allie had the aptitude for this kind of communication. It's good to see that they were correct and that Allie easily grasps the basics of communicating with those around her.