Aug 19, 2013

Where do your Kids go to Preschool? - It's Complicated

The weather dropped down to the 70's this week which means the parks are packed! Moms are more than willing to take their kids to the park in this glorious weather. Less bugs are out and no sweating to death while the kids play. Since I don't know that many people here yet, I like to find someone to talk to. Oh adult conversation during the day, you are so wonderful!

I find a group of like minded moms, as in the moms who are watching their kids play from the sidelines. These are my kind of moms, you can't have a normal conversation if you're distracted by following your child around the playground. Our conversation eventually turns to back to school time. All the moms are curious where everyone is going to school. Until I moved to North Carolina, I didn't realize the similarities between picking a preschool and a college for your kid. In Vegas no one cared. Here it seems very competitive as if not getting your kid into the best possible preschool means they'll end up a high school drop out.

I hate these conversations for so many reasons. I desperately scan the play ground praying that one of my kids needs me. Can't one of my kids venture over to the swings to be pushed or get stuck up high so I can politely walk away without everyone knowing that I don't want to talk about our preschool set up? Today the answer to my prayer was no, and I was asked the dreaded question.

Where are your twins going to preschool?


I pause and try to think of the best way to answer this loaded question. What response is best?

In the end I went with the truth since my son was now sitting 2 feet away from me. I can't lie with him in earshot since he'll call me out on it and lying is not the behavior I want to model for him. But seriously doesn't it suck when you're kids reach the age to call you out on your lies?


I simply explain that my daughter is attending Macedonia two mornings a week, while Mark goes to Briarcliff Elementary's preschool 4 mornings a week. And then I look away hoping that this is the end of my conversation about preschool. It never works out that way.

Someone always asks me "why don't they go to the same preschool?" And I understand why people want to know, after all twins typically do the same things when their young especially going to the same school

I explain that Mark is in the special education preschool program through the school district and that Molly is not. I see the questions in their eyes, they want to know why but no one is willing to ask. I've now made the group uncomfortable and there is an awkward silence. I don't offer an explanation, not because I'm embarrassed by it, I just don't feel the need to go into my family's life with strangers. Plus, I've learned that people get really awkward once they hear that my son has Cerebral Palsy and to cover it up they say something stupid. I've heard the variations enough times to know that they cause me pain.

  • "Oh, I can't tell that he has Cerebral Palsy, normally you can tell by looking at them."
  • "I'm sure everything will be fine."
  • "One kid is getting free preschool, at least there's something good about it."
  • "I don't know how you do it, I could never handle something like that."
I'm not going to even acknowledge the first statement. Yes we are not paying for preschool, would you like to see just Mark's neurologist bills? Trust me, we are not saving any money. And even if we were, saving money would not make my son being brain damaged a silver lining, call me crazy. Next, I'm not waiting for things to turn out fine. Finally no one handles a child with special needs, they learn to be the parent their child needs. The road is long, lonely, and filled with mistakes, but you learn a little more each day.


Last year it broke my hear seeing my twins separated for the first time when Mark went to preschool. In two weeks my twins will attend two different preschools which is a painful reminder that my son is different.  I have a side by side comparison of how much my son struggles. We all know that we can't compare our kids, but with twins it's really hard not to compare.

The difference in their motor skills is painful to see. He still cannot go down the steps to our house without help. He struggles with potty training even though he's almost 4. He can't run. He can swings his legs quickly enough to have something that resembles a run but and often tangles up his legs and falls flat on his face. These little things and others that the casual observer wouldn't notice, but I cannot miss. Molly can do all those things and has for a year or more. A frustrated little boy and mom comes with all of these challenges. Mark cannot understand why he cannot do the things Molly can, and I haven't found a way to explain it to him yet. 

Mark's huge victory this summer-climbing the rock wall. I cried. People stared.

Back to school time and the questions it creates. Sometimes I wish I could answer the question the way some people answer the "are you in a relationship" question on Facebook - it's complicated and leave it at that. 



15 comments:

  1. I would probably be very open in answering the question. Yes, where your kids go to preschool and why is no one else's business. On the other hand, if you chose to open up with other parents, why not tell the whole truth openly. There is nothing wrong with needing special education for a special need. Treat your kids like nothing is wrong, and that is how your kids will grow up thinking. Just my two cents. And, honestly, if another mom were in your situation and told me about her kids, I would probably then talk about my cousins who also had special needs. You are not alone out there.

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  2. I'm so sorry these questions are painful and wish there were an easier way to answer them. I hope both children thrive at their preschools and have a great year. Special needs can be so isolating for families :-(

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  3. Wow, go Mark! That right there, seeing him on that wall, speaks volumes to his determination that he won't let his disability be an excuse. Kudos to you for being a mom that didn't say to him, "No, honey, you won't be able to climb a wall like that" when he asked if he could. :) I have a feeling that he's going to be just fine in life :)

    Serena @ Get Your LIfe Straight

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  4. I can tell how proud you are of your kids, try not to worry about what other people think.

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  5. I hope you are able to let the questions and comments roll off your back. Both your kids are special and unique in their own ways and I am glad you can see that. I hope both preschool years go great for you and the kids.

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    1. Some days I can ignore them and other days it's just too much.

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  6. I bet you were incredibly proud of him when he climbed that wall. He looks fearless up there. You know, I think sometimes people put a foot in their mouths because they don't know what to say. I'd like to think that most of the time, it isn't that they don't mean well. Still, I'm sure answering the same questions gets old.

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    1. I was so proud of him! It's was beyond nerve racking seeing him up there. It's a hard balancing act encouraging him while not showing my nerves. But I know I can't let him know that I'm nervous so he can stay calm. I know the majority of people mean well but yes it does get old.

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  7. I can't even go into how hard it was to read this - not because you didn't articulate it beautifully, but because you did. It's challenging enough to watch your children alongside others, when others seem to be "doing better", but having a twin who is so different, oh my heart. You are a good Mama, I can tell.

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  8. We just signed the paperwork for my son to be evaluated for special needs preschool come his third birthday. He's been getting all his therapy sessions at home right in front of us and it scares us beyond belief that he is getting at the age where he will be getting help outside of home, not in front of us.

    While he doesn't have a twin, his sibling will be born early January and I'm actually not sure how to handle a "normal" child if that is the case. I can't even talk with friends about preschool with their children because there are just some options we don't have.

    As mothers in the end we know what we are doing is the best for our children, even if others don't understand or "don't know how we do it". I hope answering the questions when you have to get easier or at least the questions become less frequent.

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  9. I had no idea - thanks for sharing your story for others. My HS GF was in the same situation with twin girls 20 years ago and the stories she has is similar to yours

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  10. There's nothing I can say you haven't heard before, I'm sure. Please just know that I admire you, and you have a beautiful family.

    My only experience with cerebal palsy is my high school friend, Jeff. Jeff is an amazing person; he ran track at our school, and while he always came in last, he always finished. He was a superstar athlete in our town, and is still a dear man. This is the link to his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/jeffhobbsmotivationalspeaker), where he strives to inspire others. I just thought maybe his story might inspire yours, or at least be a commiseration of sorts. Best wishes to you and your beautiful family on your journey.

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    1. Thanks for sharing his page with me. It is very inspiring.

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  11. I can kind of relate. My son has autism. He is fairly high-functioning, so I get a lot of people making stupid comments like 'You can't even tell.' Yeah...like that makes it all sooo much easier for him, because you couldn't tell that he finds the world a bewildering place. Actually, it often makes it harder because people think he is just 'acting out' or 'being stubborn' and that he 'needs to know who is boss.' I know all about blubbering when my son does something for the first time at 12 that other kids have been doing for years. As far as the moms on the playground being uncomfortable...I guess I am evil, because watching ignorant people squirm is one of my small pleasures.

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  12. I had my older two in different schools for a while because one had special needs as well. And I really hated the questions. But it came down to me realizing that I didn't have to explain myself to others, that I didn't own random strangers an explanation for the things I do with my kids- or even friends- they don't have to know every detail. And it changed my perspective on how I answer questions.

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