Last Wednesday, September 3, was a day of firsts for us.
The first "first" is that our Evie started Kindergarten.
She was sooooo excited. More excited than nervous, thankfully. And she couldn't wait to go to "real" school.
She and I went to Kindergarten orientation the day before her school started so we could learn what this whole school thing is all about. We decided that Jeff would stay home for both the orientation and the first day of school thinking that the guy in the tricked out wheelchair might be too much of a distraction for people. We'll save his appearance for Back to School night later this month. :)
During orientation, Evie got to see her classroom and meet her teacher. She even got to play on the playground while I joined the other parents to listen to the Principal and other school staff. I diligently took notes and listened to the rules on attendance, drop off and pick up times, and proper school attire.
Then the PTO President talked about all the fun stuff they have planned for the school year. Fundraisers, fundraisers, and more fundraisers.
In detailing some of the events, she said, "Last year we had a father/daughter dance, and it went over so well that this year we're going to have a mother/son dance."
I kept my gaze fixed on her, and tried to keep my expression steady. But I have no idea what she said after that.
My stomach did the flip it always does when I realize that Jeff and Evie won't have a "normal" experience at something like a father/daughter dance. And honestly, part of me was glad that that dance happened last year, and we wouldn't have to worry about one this year.
I rallied mentally, and the rest of the orientation went fine. Evie and I met up on the playground afterward, then took a tour of her school farm (Yes, a real farm with sheep, chickens, goats, geese, bunnies, and turtles all roaming free).
By the time we left, Evie was super amped up for her first day.
She made sure to tell me to wake her up in plenty of time - so she wouldn't be late.
Here she is ... all smiles.
With a bit of a nervous hug goodbye, she marched with the other kids into her classroom, and I watched my little girl become a big Kindergartener.
I took the whole day off work and filled the hours she was at school with errands - to try to make the time go by faster.
By the end of her school day, I was on the blacktop again, feeling anxious as the teacher opened the door. Before I left to get her, Jeff (who was as nervous as I was) said, "Be sure to check her face to see if she'd been crying at all."
A few kids I didn't recognize were leading the way out the door. A little further back, I saw a hand spring up from the sea of kids, and heard a familiar, "Hi Mama!" No trace of tears on her face. She ran at me with a huge smile and landed on me with a huge hug.
Best feeling in the world.
Day one = success.
After we got home and Jeff and I grilled her (unsuccessfully) about her day, it was time for Jeff's massage appointment. So Jeff and I loaded up, and off we went.
Here's where our second "first" comes into play.
Jeff has had several massage appointments at this point, so it was a pretty routine trip.
But on the way home, we had our first pop-off in the van (which, I can assure you is not anything as risque as it sounds).
I had just pulled into the left turn lane and stopped at the red light. We were the first car.
We were talking, like normal. Nothing out of the ordinary.
Then I heard the sound. The soft "whoosh" of air followed quickly by Jeff rapidly clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth. That's the signal for "My vent popped off, and I'm not getting air." Because when the vent comes off, Jeff can't talk - AT ALL. His only way of communicating is clicking.
And he was clicking. In the car. Stopped at an intersection.
My eyes snapped to his in the rear-view mirror.
"It came OFF?" I asked hurriedly.
He nodded again and again.
I slammed the van in park,
hit the button to open the driver side sliding door,
frantically searched for the hazards, not having ever used them before,
unbuckled my seatbelt,
threw open my door,
leapt out-climbed in the back-and put the air back onto Jeff's trach.
All in about 3 seconds.
He nodded. He was smiling, not nearly as freaked out as I was.
I flew back into the driver's seat, my heart thumping loud enough to hear, my hands trembling, and my breath coming fast.
"Did we miss the light?" I asked.
Just then, the arrow turned green. I put the car back into drive, then calmly made the turn.
"I can't believe we didn't miss the light."
* * * * *
Last night as I was getting Evie out of the shower, I asked her if she liked her new teacher. She nodded her yes. Then she said, "I told her about Daddy."
"You did?!" I asked with both happiness and curiosity. "What did you tell her?"
"That he can move his shoulders and his neck."
"Did you tell her he had an accident?"
I told Evie how proud I was of her, and how important it is for her to tell her teacher about Daddy. More than anything, I was proud that Evie told her without me asking her to do so. She did it on her own. I had written a note to her teacher telling her briefly about our situation since I know Evie often talks of it, but I haven't had the opportunity to tell her about it in person. It seems our Evie has already done that part.
In the note I wrote to her teacher, I explained how despite Jeff's physical disability, he and Evie still have a very normal father/daughter relationship. I like to emphasize that we really are "normal" though I know people don't see us that way.
So instead, I think I might start calling us extra-ordinary, but not in the sense that there's anything exceptional about our family.
What it comes down to is that we're a family with a few "extra" things to deal with.
Other that that, we're pretty ordinary.
These two are pretty "extra" ordinary to me.