Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kinder-Guarding G (and me)

 G’s 1st day of kindergarten.  Full inclusion. 

Yikes. Yikes. Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes!

I drove G for his 1st official day so that I could be sure that he’s settled in, to meet his parapro…and yes, photos opps. 

On the way into school G said, “Uh-oh, you forgot my bus tag!”

I moaned, “Oh no!  Well I can pick you up after school.”

He said, “No, I know what bus I’m on, it’s bus __.”

“Really?  Well, I‘ll ask your teacher to be sure.”

I confessed to his teacher that G discovered that I forgot his bus tag.  She assured me that she has a list and he will make it on the right bus.  I must have asked her 5 times, “Are you sure, I can pick him up, no problem!”  I saw a stack of forms on her desk and realized that I forgot to bring his form.  His teacher joked, “G will probably help remind you to send it tomorrow.”  I’m so glad she’s seen me/knew me when I had it together, knew which end was up.  I was a Room Mom with my older kids for her class, and worked in her classroom often.  Pre-G, getting out the door was not quite the process it is now.  Eating, brushing teeth, getting dressed, learning to tie shoes, most everything was simpler.  Different, not better – as Temple Grandin says.

I was thrilled upon meeting G’s Parapro to discover that she’s friendly, approachable and well-experienced. She asked if I had specific concerns (and listened!).  She mentioned that she’s frequently worked with demanding students at our local special needs school.  She “gets it”, a lucky break.  This makes a world of difference to me.  During the difficult negotiations to obtain an aide for G, the school admin  stressed repeatedly that the “Parent Aide” would not be a ParaPro, it would be a parent with some ASD training.  I pictured a babysitting-type scenario.  G’s aide called herself a “Sub ParaPro”, a much better, more professional fit to ease/facilitate G’s transition into NT environment and keep him safe.  Such a weight off my mind.  I look forward to hearing how he does and discussing his needs and progress further. 

I got G going with an activity, then let her come in as I backed off.  I slunk around the classroom taking photos of G - no need for slinking – he never looked up at me.  I reluctantly pulled myself away. Outside his classroom, tears burned my eyes.  I sniffled, put on a brave face and went into the office to make some arrangements for my volunteer work.  G’s principal came in and asked me how I was doing.  I tried not to look at her face.  I swallowed, choked and blurted, “I’m-ok-but-I’m-trying-to hold-it-together-and-I-better-not-talk-about-it–or-I’ll-cry–again-but-thank-you-I-can’t-look-at-you.”

She laughed and quipped, “ Ok, I think you’re set on the caffeine!”

Thank you dear lady, for making me laugh!  I think she’s been through this a few thousand times…including twice before with me.

gmomkindergarten faceI finished my business and peeked back into the classroom window to be sure G was coping.  No worries – he was in his own world, working on a puzzle contentedly, while a few other children cried big crocodile tears, scared of the big changes and pitifully missing Home/Family/Furry Creatures.

I remember how proud I was when I dropped off my older children in this same classroom.  I knew that I’d done my job by preparing my kiddos for independence, giving them confidence and getting them revved up about how fun and cool school and learning would be for them.  This is the one child that I wish upon wish would cry and feel sad that I’m leaving… 

Cry for Mom, MISS ME, sweet G! 
How selfish is that!?! 

…I can’t be certain he’d ever notice if I was suddenly gone.  That’s not dramatizing, that’s reality.  This thought causes me great distress, followed by tremendous guilt for being selfish enough to think that way.  He posed and blew kisses on command for a photo -that’s more than many ASD Moms can hope for.  

In the end, it is what it is.  Our family could have it so much worse, as many do.  We appreciate our blessings, feel privileged to have him in our lives.  He means the world to our family, he teaches us in infinite ways.  I know that he loves me in the here and now. I’m fortunate that he allows affection.  He makes us laugh daily with his quirks and silliness.  We’re doing the best we can to teach him life skills, social skills, family, friends, LOVE. 

buzzlunchboxI have enough sentimentality, fear and tears for both of us, sweet G.  Best of luck on your journey into real-world Neuro-Typical (NT) school.  May you succeed in kindergarten.  As one of his heroes says, “To infinity and beyond!”

I feel fairly confident that G’s in safe care at school.  I don’t feel like I have to post myself out in the parking lot for G-surveillance to be certain he doesn’t bolt out the door; head for the hills, the highway, the lake, the train, the garbage truck, the fire truck.  Not to say that I relaxed for a moment this afternoon.  I considered plans for my first official freedom of the school year.  I tossed around ideas to go shopping, call friends, watch a favorite DVR-ed show, clean the house (considered for all of about 3 seconds – duh – no therapy value there today, unless I cry into a sponge).  Instead…well, you see what I did instead.
promisesWriting + Coke Zero
+ I treated myself
to a tiny chocolate
(ok 3 -shhhh)      
coke zero= my therapies of choice
Incidentally, I checked his forgotten bus tag when I got home.  Sure enough, he’s on bus __, just like he told me.  Thanks for keeping me on track, smart boy…somebody has to!

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