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Weighing my options; day care or home care?

There was no moment that I knew, just that feeling in my gut, the achy spot that keeps nudging you to do something different.

You could probably define me as that obsessive mom who has to review all options, discover alternatives and reveal any and all what-ifs before I make a substantial change in my child's life. I wouldn't have it any other way. His life is tender, and I intend to handle it with care.

I'm talking about a decision I made to switch from a full-time day care provider to a full-time personal care assistant. This wasn't just a difficult decision, as I truly cared for our day care provider and thought of her as family. But it was also a leap of faith in making sure his needs remain on the forefront.

Will it hinder him socially? Is it reliable? Can we afford it? How will this benefit him? Is it really what's best?

After all the discussion and option weighing, we made the decision to hire a full-time caregiver to help our son reach some milestones before he starts kindergarten in a year.

This is me, the planner, planning ahead - as much as a working mom can plan anyway.

Carter attends a great school and has always been blessed with great people in his classes and excellent teachers. That doesn't mean kindergarten doesn't absolutely scare me to death. Any special-needs parent has a million what-ifs and I'm-scared-ofs running through his or her head. Some they might admit, and many they will never breathe a word of out loud, but just bite their nails and write about it in their blog, or in my slightly more public case, their parenting column.

Kindergarten scares me because:

He isn't potty trained yet. We're trying hard, but not yet.

Simple tasks like coloring and cutting are very difficult for him.

He likes to spin everything, and that is a constant distraction from learning. I fear that will distract him and others, while also taking away something he loves to do.

He can only say a couple of words together.

And the kindergarten questions continue to nag.

Will he still have someone help him go to the bathroom, much less someone prompt him to go?

Will he have a paraprofessional?

Will he have enough time to eat his food?

Will he even eat the food? Will smells make him gag and throw up?

Will I receive constant calls that he is "sick" when really something simply caused him to gag?

Will he be able to build true friendships?

Will his soft heart be torn from unnecessarily being spoken to harshly?

Will someone make sure he doesn't put every single thing he finds in his mouth? Like his friend's booger? Seriously!

Will someone make sure he drinks his special low-calcium formula as a milk replacement, even when a substitute teacher is there?

Will they know how to help him when a loud sound sends him into a meltdown?

Will they help him tie his shoes? Will they help remove rocks from his orthotics?

Will they make sure he wears his hat to inhibit too much vitamin D that could increase his hypercalcimia.

I could easily go on, but ultimately, I know as parents we can't be there for everything. I know we can't protect him from all things. Like all of us, he has to experience life and grow up and become who he is.

But at the same time, it's my job to make sure he has what he needs to be ready.

Last week he entered his third year of preschool. He seems ready for another year and is excited to see his classmates and quickly tosses his hat, coat and backpack into the locker so he can get to his name tag duties.

Having one-on-one care at home has given us the opportunity to focus on potty training, work on our colors, focus on speech, work on eating and try not to gag from smells so much. We're working on counting, learning safety habits, and we're even tackling memorizing his phone number.

Although a difficult decision, the planned change was a progressive one, and after only a month he is constantly improving in everyday living and speech skills. Most importantly, he is happy, which is paramount to everything else.

Kerri Kava is The Learning Forum coordinator for The Forum. She can be reached at