There is no one who would ever accuse me of being a mother who hovers. There is a very funny Thanksgiving video of Pip spinning around and crashing into my friend's coffee table. I proceed to laugh uncontrollably while another friend sweetly checks out his elbow and gives it a kiss. Well, sure, that's another way to deal with it, I guess. If you're into that whole caring, nurturing, good parenting thing. But, in fairness to me and my negligence, Pip does that, like, 30 times a day.
I did have a bad few moments last week, though, that took me a little longer to justify. Cause I attended a parent-teacher conference at Pip’s school and had the following conversation more or less:
Teacher: Pip is doing great.
Me: Great. He loves school. He sings me all the songs you teach him and recites all the rules. He cries on the mornings he doesn’t have school.
Teacher: Good. We’re happy to have him. We’re concerned about his fine motor skills, though. We worry he won’t be ready for kindergarten. He has difficulty writing and cutting.
Me: Oh? Uhh….well….
Teacher: We think he may need some Occupational Therapy.
Me: Well, he had Occupational Therapy and he graduated.
Teacher: He should be reevaluated. He may have a weak core. Fine motor skills take a great deal of core strength.
Me: Well, his stomach muscles have been severed twice.
Teacher: Exactly. So maybe he needs some extra help.
So then I left. And I thought back on all the times when I had sat down with Pip and encouraged him to cut or write something. And I realized that those times numbered never. Pip runs. Pip climbs. Pip leaps off of things. Pip dances. Pip jumps. Pip crawls under things. Pip does not sit down and do a project. And I don’t make him. Ever. So maybe he lacks core strength. Or maybe they are asking him to cut paper with scissors and it is the first time he has cut anything (except his own hair that one time.) Oopsie.
I felt pretty darn guilty about that one for a good 14.5 minutes. But then I remembered this:
Four years ago last September, Pip was diagnosed with a rare, fatal liver disease for which there is no cure. He was immediately admitted to Children’s Memorial and, two days later, he underwent something called a Kasai portoenterostomy to prolong the usefulness of his native liver. That was the first time they severed his core muscles – so they could cut out his gallbladder and a portion of his liver and make a new drain using a piece of his small intestine yada yada – big stuff for a 10-week-old guy. On the day he was released from that procedure, I wrapped the gaping tummy wound with gauze, strapped him into his baby bjorn, and went to Bunny’s preschool curriculum night. When parents started asking questions about preschool curriculum, I unexpectedly burst into tears and really startled the poor preschool teacher who had never seen anyone react quite so emotionally to the explanation of a play-based learning system. But all I could think is “I just want him to make it to preschool. I just want him to live that long. And I don’t care what he learns. I want him to get his hands dirty. I want him to come home with paint on his shirt and chocolate on his face and a song in his heart. I want him to tell me the names of his friends and I want that list to be long. That’s it.”
And every year (this is Pip's third and final preschool year) when the teachers ask what I want Pip to get out of preschool, that is basically what I say. I want him to have fun. I want him to have friends.
I guess when it comes to Pip, I’m more of a big picture kinda gal.
In one week, Pip will be four years post liver transplant. He was invited to play at a friend’s house that day. He gets to walk home from school with his friend and eat lunch and play for a couple hours. He will be in HEAVEN - and he'll be right here on earth.
The Pipster might struggle a bit during the printing and cutting portion of kindergarten but, listen, it’s KINDERGARTEN. I don’t want him to peak too soon. So they can help him catch up. He’ll enjoy trying. He’ll be happy. That is all I have ever wished for him so, you know, mission accomplished there.