In January 2008, we began attending the once a week Early Years drop in program at St. Alban’s Boys & Girls Club. Izaiah was only 10 months old at the time. We were welcomed with open arms and warm loving smiles. We made some connections with other families in the area and had no idea how important those would come to be over the next 5 years.
Two months later, I was back to work from maternity leave and Izaiah would be attending St. Alban’s full time in their first toddler room. Of course all us parents were a wreck leaving our babies that first day, but the staff were great and reassuring us that they would be fine and Izaiah was. By this time, he had become familiar with the building and a number of the staff.
St. Alban’s quickly became our 2nd home and the pre-school teachers and other families, were our extended family. And just like in any family, you have to get a nick name, and thanks to Nicole, Zai Zai was born.
Izaiah, very quickly started developing his independence. Learning to feed himself, get dressed on his own, “Yes please” and “No thank you” etc, spending his days with Kimberly aka KILL-LA-LEE. I loved getting the daily reporting sheets as it make me feel included in him progressing to meet his milestones. There were many an evening, she would stay to talk about his day or even just that little reassurance that he was doing fine when I was at work. Needless to say, when it was time to move over to the Junior room it was bitter sweet.
There was a time, especially during the colder months, then the brown bench in front of the Senior room was “the place to be” from 5-6pm, were snacks and laugher where plentiful. I’m not sure how that actually got started, but it was a great way to decompress from the day at work, and get into “parent mode.
That summer, Izaiah was welcomed with loving open arms from both Afyia and Isadora. His growth during this time was truly amazing. His communication and confidents continued to bloom. He would come home chatting nonstop about all his friends, what he did during the day, learning sign language, and the numerous songs he’d learned. During this time he also began taking part in the other activities that the Club was offering; Swimming, Yoga, Creative Movement, Music with Michael, and too many more to mention.
Before we knew, that bitter sweet feeling was coming back, as “our little friends” began visiting the room with the transition over to the Senior room ever creeping up.
His first summer in the Senior room, I thought my poor child was going to die with all the “Big kids” field trips they were doing, plus NO MORE NAP TIME!. Poor Zai, he was a wreck with tiredness and would pass out in the car before I would get to the end of street. Never the less, he loved every minute of it.
One of the most important and life changing experiences he has gotten while being in the Senior room is having a male staff. I really did not fully understand the impact on his little life until the day Torey was leaving St. Alban’s. Wow! Both Izaiah and the other children where so upset. They got a very real life lesson in loving, and losing someone special, but with lots of continued love and understanding for Debbie and the rest of the Senior Room “crew”, he was able to push through.
And so now we are here, June 2013, graduation. How could five years go by so quickly? For me, this final transition is without any comparison, is the hardest. How can anyone find the perfect words to express our heart-felt love and appreciation for the huge impact everyone at the club has had on our family? Thank you, great work, high five, hugs and kisses, all seem so small. How can it truly be measured, the lifelong lessons and memories we have been blessed with, and to carry with us forever? I can’t, and so I will not even attempt to.