Education is the most important investment of all -

My kids went back to school this morning. After weeks of nerves and anxiety mixed in with a little excitement, Matilda returned to school in Year 1 and Gilbert started there in Year 2.

It went better than I expected. They were both excited to get their lunches organised and get dressed this morning. They even put their own sunscreen on without complaint!

Once at school, Matilda ran off with a friend and I hardly saw her again. This was a fantastic start to the year as we spent most of last year managing her separation anxiety and guiding her interaction with her classmates.

As expected, Gilbert clung to me like a barnacle. We went to breakfast club where he enjoyed vegemite toast and a cup of milk. We had a walk and checked out the little play area Matilda was playing in with her friend. We said hello to his teacher and I introduced him to Matilda’s teacher and two of the wonderful class aides.

As the minutes counted down he clung to me harder. I ushered him to the COLA where the school congregates for morning assembly. I found him a spot next to Matilda and I convinced him to stay there for the duration of the assembly. He did SO well. He was quiet, he listened and he followed the instruction to get to his feet when they called for the kids in Year 1 and 2.

I was so proud.

By this stage the tears had been stinging my eyes for some time and it was hard to blink them back when he came to me fearful and worried. I held his hand, gave him a huge cuddle and walked with him to the hall, where the kids were to be divided into their classes.

He cried the whole way and asked to be taken home but I was confident we just had to get him in there and away from me and he would be okay. I gave him one last hug, told him I would be there to pick him up this afternoon and watched him walk off with the others. I could hear him the whole way, but he was brave enough to walk by himself with his future classmates into the hall.

And in that moment, I knew he would be okay.

As for me, the moment he was brave enough to go on his own, I broke down and cried. To be completely truthful, I’m still teary writing this.

I’m worried for him and hoping he’ll be able to hold it together today but I’m also so very proud of him and how far he has come.

A few years ago I could not even imagine him being able to attend a mainstream class. I could not see how he could possibly cope with his vision impairment and his autism on top of that.

But he has proved me so wrong in so many ways. I am in a constant state of awe with him – I have now learned to not place expectations on what he can or can’t do. He has earned the chance to decide what he wants to try and has earned my full support and guidance in every attempt.

It’s going to be a rocky road but seeing him walk off on his own today showed me that he is willing to give it a go.

That’s my brave, awe-inspiring boy.


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