He’s Starting School at Home, But I’m Just Happy He’s Here

Nothing in my son’s life has gone according to plan. Why would school be any different?

Yesterday was my son’s first day of preschool. He dressed up in his favorite power outfit—a unicorn hoodie—and reluctantly posed for his first-day photo, squirming and excited. Then, finally, the big moment: meeting his classmates. “Fire truck!” he shouted, reaching toward the classmate holding the truck. But his fingers touched only glass. His class, of course, is virtual.

My son is used to touching glass when he reaches for other people. He spent the first nine weeks of his life in the hospital, first in an incubator and then in an open plastic box. His tiny translucent fingers would stretch toward me and I’d press my fingers against the plastic, hoping against reason they would connect. He was born ten weeks early, and he had open-heart surgery when he weighed only ten pounds. His birth didn’t go as planned, and neither did his toddlerhood; he spent his early years visiting specialists.

It wasn’t what I expected, but I reminded myself over and over again: I’m just happy he’s here. When I felt helpless or overwhelmed, I would close my eyes and imagine the future: my husband and I, spread out on tousled summertime picnic blankets, watching our baby taking unsteady steps in golden sunlight. The way he would look at me one day and whisper I love you back to me. And the first day of preschool, all of us full of frenetic energy and excitement and more than a little anxiety, reluctantly posing for photos on the front stoop before heading off to school. Read more at Catapult.

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