It was never supposed to end like this. It was never supposed to BE like this. Brendan wasn’t supposed to go to ABC at Grays Woods. Several friends had highly recommended ABC to us and we set out to enroll him (actually, we didn’t even know he was a “him” yet) at the University Drive center where their kids went. When we called to ask for a tour and to possibly enroll this child-to-be-named-later, we were told that there wouldn’t be any openings at University Drive in August of 2009 (did I mention that we didn’t even know his sex yet??? Clue #1 that we were in the right place—very long waiting list. : ) ). We were told that the Grays Woods center had space open and he could start there and move over to University Drive when space opened up. They were gracious enough to give us a tour of both centers and introduce us to the staff at both places. We loved how bright and cheerful and happy the Grays Woods center seemed and we figured he’d be fine there for a few weeks until space opened up for him at the center closer to our house. We filled out the registration form (which said “Baby Riggle” at the time) and crossed that item off the “to worry about” list.
Little did we know that neither University Drive nor “fine” were in the cards for us.
We dropped our Little Tigger off on his first day at the tender age of 12 weeks. He never cried a bit. I cried. Matt cried. Bren was happy as a clam. For 5 solid years, Bren was happy as a clam. In all that time, I can count on both hands the number of days he ever cried being dropped off, and one of those was because he fell and cut his lip just as I was about to leave. By November it was clear that he was attached to his caregivers and the others at ABC and we decided that we would decline a space at the closer center if one came up.
Wouldn’t you know it; Amy contacted us the next day to tell us a space had opened up. We looked at each other and chuckled before turning it down. We never looked back. To be honest, until this week we had forgotten that we ever wanted him to be anywhere else.
In 5 years, he learned to sit up and crawl, walk and run, talk and (sort of) listen. He learned to play with the other kids and learned to make friends. We made friends, too. We stood side by side with other parents wrestling cranky infants into winter clothes they didn’t want to wear and into car seats they didn’t want to be buckled into. We puzzled together over the evening we picked them up looking perfectly normal, only to find blue and purple bellies under their shirts at bathtime. We hung identical hand print artwork in our kitchens and admired each other’s displays.
The staff and parents at ABC became our friends and our extended family. They worried with us over a string of ear infections that threatened Bren’s hearing, over the surgery for his magical ear tubes that eliminated the problem overnight, over the puzzling behaviors that heralded the onset of his ADHD. They reassured us after Moore, OK that they had a disaster plan in place if a storm threatened this bright and airy school. They reassured us after Newtown that they were reviewing already strict safety protocols and that they had given extra hugs and kisses to each of our little ones. Best and worst of all, they worked with us, talked with us, mourned with us, and raged with us after the terrible events of fall 2011 and their fallout hit very close to home. They helped us find age appropriate ways to talk to our kids about the storm swirling around their community and they reassured us that they were watching closely for any signs of trauma or distress in our kids. They were always, always looking out for all of us.
For 5 solid years, Bren was so well loved and cared for, that when it came time to register him for kindergarten, we worried about the impact of him leaving this safe and cozy nest. We were so worried, that we even asked the school district to move him to the school closer to the center so he could stay there. The moment the decision was made, we knew it was the wrong one. I was scared for him to go out on his own, and, if I’m perfectly honest, I was scared for me. What would I do without these wonderful people to help look out for my little guy? What would I do without these wonderful people around ME? My fear of him leaving was as much about me as it was about him. Slowly, we recognized that fear is a terrible way to start a future so we took a deep breath and moved him back to the school in our neighborhood. We got ready to move him out of ABC.
So today is the day. It’s the last day for our not-so-little-anymore Bren in the cozy, happy, safe nest made for him at ABC. Next week he and all his classmates will take off for Kindergarten, scattered all over the district. The best gift we got from ABC was knowing that we won’t be the only ones standing back watching them fly.
We love you. All of you. You will always be part of our family!