here to view the below tribute on the
Willowjak Boys Blog.
I know you guys are out there.
Parents who have children attending this lovely preschool
back in Ontario. I know that Holly is out there. Holly wrote
me a beautiful little note that I haven't yet replied to, so
I thought I might repay her the favour of linking to my blog,
by writing a little something about the place that made such
a huge impact on our lives.
Pineridge Nursery School was one of
our stepping stones that I believe was a foundation for the
twins. At the time, Diane was running things there and I had
met her through a class we were taking at church. At the
time of the boys' diagnosis, one of the few offers of advice
we were given by our developmental pediatrician was to enrol
the boys in a preschool so that they could benefit from the
exposure to other kids. This absolutely terrified me. Up
until this point, not even our family members were entirely
comfortable caring for the boys because of their
extraordinary quirks/behaviours and needs and I was afraid
that a preschool would not be open to the idea of accepting
two little boys who wouldn't know how to play by the rules.
I think it's a natural fear of a parent to worry if their
children are being ignored or mistreated, particulary if
their children are non-verbal, as Owen and Will were (and
still are). I can't ask them at the end of the day, how it
went, if they had fun, what they did, do they like their
teachers, who are their friends, etc. To find a preschool
that would accept the boys (difficult), that felt safe and
where I respected and trusted the teachers, would be a
difficult task. But it wasn't.
A good friend from St. Paul's
Church helped to coordinate my meeting with Diane at
Pineridge. It took only a few days after the diagnosis for
this to happen and Jonathan and
I were fresh from our shock and devastation at the news. I
think about our first meeting with Diane and I remember
feeling like a brand new, bald and blind little bird who has
fallen out of its nest. Vulnerable and pathetically
desperate for someone to help us figure it out. I am so
grateful that Diane was the one to meet with me, while in
that state. She was a true blessing
I don't say that lightly. Life often puts people into your
life for all the right reasons and just the right time.
Diane offered us hope. She offered us a shoulder to cry on
and she provided me with a plan so that I didn't feel so
afraid about the boys' future. It wasn't a matter of just
getting a tour of the classroom and a run-down of what they
could offer. She was a warm blanket to wrap ourselves up in;
it was a comfort and it gave us a sense of peace.
At the time, I didn't realize what
it would mean for Diane to take on two little boys with
special needs, I was entirely focused on my objectives. In
retrospect, I can see that Diane and Pineridge went out on a
limb, over and above what they needed to do to help us out.
They hired on an extra staff to be sure that they would be
able to support the boys and this was done without the
assurance that the Region would provide any supplementary
funding to help with the extraordinary expense. The women in
the classroom were SO wonderful at trying to learn all about
the boys and their needs. Their interest and their obvious
affection for Owen and Will melted our hearts. The boys had
a clear connection with each of the women, Holly, Susan, Joy
and Diane and it made the experience so much more than what
we had ever anticipated. Now that we are going into the
boys' first year in a full-day school program (grade one),
we are realizing how rare it is to find a school placement
such as what we have experienced thus far.
We have been blessed and my boys are better people for
having been so fortunate to go through Pineridge. We will
never ever forget them and I am so pleased to continue to
have this (web)connection to the school. If there is ever
anything I can do for any parents who are going through what
we did and your children are attending, please don't
hesitate to contact me so that I can offer .. a bit of
guidance maybe? Anything. It's all about paying it forward
as Pineridge did for us.
Click on the links to take a look
back at old blog entries regarding our experience with
Mom's Day Tea Times 3