Jamie's first day of school. It was a big day for us! We started our new tradition of taking "first day of school" photos on the front steps. When we pulled up to the school, Jamie bounded out of the car, slung his backpack over one shoulder (he explained to his old, old mother that this was the way the kids carried their backpacks - as if I had never been to school and wore my backpack oh-so-cool), and walked ahead of us into the building. He graciously allowed us to take more photos and pin his name tag on him, then he bestowed kisses on everyone and entered the classroom. He never once looked back.
When we visited Jamie's preschool for his open house, we trooped the whole crew in. Clare did fairly well playing with the older kids (it is getting easier now that she is walking) and instantly latched onto a baby doll and carried it around with her. But then she became tired and cranky, so she sat in the stroller in the hallway to eat a snack. (The room was too small for the 19 preschoolers, parents, siblings, teachers, and our double stroller.) I stayed in the hallway with Clare and Simon, while Jamie sat with his new classmates for snack time, and Shawn stood with the rest of the parents for some final information on starting school. I strained anxiously to hear what the teacher was saying to the parents while keeping an eye on Clare and Simon and craning to watch Jamie eat his snack and interact with his new friends. I was very proud to hear him say politely, "Excuse me, I did not get a drink" as the juice bottle passed by him. I was trying so hard to peek between the adults to watch my boy. And it struck me - I would not be able to watch Jamie at school. I would not be there physically with my eyes and ears to see what went on in his school day. I would have to rely on Jamie's word and his teachers for what he was doing in school. Oh sure, he will bring home beautiful art projects and tales of other students. I will have a chance to discuss his progress with his teacher and peruse his folder of work on Curriculum Night. But I will no longer be present at these events. I am now a bystander instead of a participant in part of my son's day.
I stood at the door of Jamie's classroom for a few seconds, watching him instantly start to play trucks with another boy. I desperately wanted to go in there with Jamie. Walk him to his seat, pour his juice for snack, help him choose his colors at craft time. Instead I have to trust that he is okay. He has wonderful teachers and he has the skills and values that we have instilled in him to get him through his school day. I am proud of the caring, smart, funny young man that we are raising. And it was time to let him go into the world independent of Mom and Dad... just a little bit at least.
While Jamie was at school, the four of us headed over to the hospital for blood draws. We are participating in the Williams syndrome research study going on out of the University of Nevada. They sent us a kit to return with blood from Clare, Shawn, and me. After making call after call to find a place that would draw the blood without orders from a doctor and let us keep the blood to send it out ourselves (since we had the kit and all the materials for shipping), we finally discovered our local hospital's outpatient lab would do it. Since Shawn was already taking the morning off work because it was Jamie's first day of school, we thought it would be the perfect time to head over to the hospital. I called FedEx to arrange a pick-up for the blood since it needed to be in Las Vegas the following morning. At the hospital, the phlebotomist put a little wrench in our plans when she announced that, at 20 pounds, Clare could only have 10 cc's of blood drawn per their guidelines. The genetics lab, however, wanted 16.5 cc's - almost double. After having the lab manager talk to a doctor at the hospital, discuss the situation, and discuss Clare's condition, it was determined that Clare was "hemodynamically stable" for the full blood draw (we learned a new term today!). That was when Clare's veins threw a huge wrench in the plan. After fishing around in the right arm with no luck, the phlebotomist tried the left arm. Although a big vein was found, Clare's body would not pump the blood out. No matter what the phlebotomist tried, no blood would come out. So Shawn and I had our blood drawn, took our little tubes with us, and were on our way. I was fuming in the car on the way back to school to pick up Jamie. Two hours in the lab, countless phone calls to set all this up, and lots of stress. To do it all over again in the near future. As Shawn reminded me, "The only thing you can't control is life."
So today was a big day for all of us. Not surprisingly, Jamie loved school. He cannot wait to go back on Friday. I am happy that at least one person was spared the torture of the hospital blood lab today! Jamie will finally not have to come along to all the countless appointments we have, since I can schedule them during his school time. Next week, Clare and I start swim and gymnastics classes, so she is going to enjoy her time as well. And Mommy and Daddy are learning to let go. One small step at a time.