This morning I dropped my daughter off for her first full day at Infant School.  The first day of school for any child (and parent!) is a big deal, I remember shedding tears for my son , who is now 9 and wondering how he would cope in the big world without his mummy.

This morning however, was scary.  Bella, who is 4 has Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy. She uses a manual wheelchair and struggles with fine motor skills. She cannot walk or stand unaided at all. She has started a mainstream school and will be in a class with 29 other able-bodied children.

I’m scared of leaving her care to someone else
This has been a long process, we have had meeting after meeting with the school and they are ready to deal with Bella’s physical needs. I know she will be safe, I also know that she will be well-liked by the teachers but what if they forget to do something, or she’s too shy to ask for help on the toilet?

I was scared of the looks from the other parents and children who hadn’t seen her before
I’m used to ignorance and, as I expected, there was a mixed reaction. Some people came over and said hello, some people looked embarrassed (these were the people that used to be friends but stopped calling when Bella was diagnosed). Some children wanted to ask parents innocent questions about the girl in the wheelchair and they were shushed and asked to be quiet, no doubt making them wary of talking to Bella. This is all the same wherever we go. Bella has friends and I believe she will make more.

I’m scared about the educational side of things
We still don’t really know yet fully how the Cerebral Palsy effects her, I have been warned several times she may not be able to stay in mainstream education and we will decide the best for her when it comes to it.

I am scared because for 4-and-a-half years this little girl has been my daily constant companion
It’s been so hard, exhausting, scary and painfully lonely. There have been times I’ve wondered if I can cope. However, there have been the most wonderful times. She is so funny, and unbelievably kind and she always takes whatever is thrown at her with a beautiful smile on her face. We love the same things and she makes me realise what’s important in life.  I feel extremely lucky to have her. 

I also feel guilty because I realise I have treated her younger than she is, I’ve kept her as my baby. While I hope Bella gains independence at school I feel completely lost, I have been her arms and legs for so long I don’t know who I am anymore. I am going to miss her so much. I am not ready to let her go.

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