Memory: Cody Starts School
My youngest child, Cody, started daycare when he was eighteen months old. This was six months sooner than I wanted: my goal was to keep all my babies at home until they were at least two years old. I strongly believed that the first two years were crucial and I wanted my babies at home for that time. However, circumstances pressed and I went back to work, three days a week. At a mere year and a half of age, my Cody started school Mt. Sopris Montessori in Carbondale, CO.
After the very first day, when picking Cody up, I would be met by his teacher. Each day, she presented me with a statement posing as a question.
First, “So, he was born early?”
My answer, “Nope. Born on his due date.”
Next day, “He was small?”
My answer, “Nope. Ten and a half pounds.”
The next day, “So, there were problems with at the hospital during his birth?’
My answer, “Nope. Born at home. No problems.”
The second week, “So, he had a serious illness as an infant?’
My reply: “Are you afraid to say that you think that Cody is displaying autistic-like behavior.? I think that you should know that his very best friend is diagnosed with severe sensory-integration disorder. I think you should know that Cody’s friend, Austin is on the Autism Spectrum, on the very far edge of that spectrum.”
The verbal response: “Oh.”
The non verbal response: Relief signaled by shoulders settling, big sigh, softened eyes, gentle hands.
In my experience, Montessori instructors are very focused on language development. Cody had some interesting unfolding with language. It was slow, steady and yet extensive. At eighteen months, he had very few words that he did not comprehend and very, very few words that he spoke. This near lack of spoken language surely gave his teachers reason for concern.
Cody also had a dear friend that lived in a very different world than most of us. Austin could hear the low hum of the security system at Walmart as a screeching siren. He rarely felt hunger but his mouth was so sensitive that the texture of some food would cause searing pain. Austin needed certain toys to ‘play’ with other toys, setting Lions near Ninjas but never Dinosaurs. He loved playing with Cody. He and Cody shared a world that Austin shared with few.
Cody, who loved his friend Austin, learned to play in interesting ways, repeating set movement patterns, placing toys carefully into specific positions. Being thoughtful observers, Cody’s teachers had plenty besides language development to worry about.
And we, his parents, did not. From an extremely early age, our son, Cody was clearly different from other children. He had an intensity, a special depth, a special empathy for others. Cody’s grasp of language, his strangely structured play, his friendship with Austin were all just parts of the wonderful child we knew him to be.
And what about Cody starting school before his first precious, crucial, first two years were complete? Well, Cody did fine. Just fine!
May all babies be born into loving hands