Thursday, September 4, 2008


Well, today the teachers described the day as "Bumpy." I always appreciate this euphemism they use. It evokes, for me, the image of a rash, or knots forming on recently bumped heads, or sandpaper, and it really works better than the words I use when people ask me about the weekends. Those words I can't print here - this is a family show.

So, the school day was bumpy. Then, I heard my name paged a half hour prior to when I usually pick up the rooster from daycare. Rooster's AMAZING teacher needed to let me know that he melted down completely after knocking over a child's construction and then refusing to apologize. She wanted to know: Could I come?

Yes, bumpy. But once I picked up the rooster, I expected things to go downhill quickly. I figured picking up his sister would take things from bad to worse, and I braced for more.

We found Peaches playing with one of her new teachers in the gym, which was other unoccupied because after school activities don't begin for a week or so. Peaches and her buddy IF were racing around the empty space playing with balls. Rooster ran in, ready to steal away the cool new shiny soccer ball, but did I mention Peaches' new teacher is young, fit, smart, savvy, and rides a motorcycle? She immediately sensed the situation and managed to subtly tweak it to get the rooster and IF involved in what could look for all the world like a game of soccer. A game. Together. On the same team. Within 30 seconds she manipulated them into cooperation like a snake oil salesman. It was beautiful. I truly almost cried for all manner of reasons as my boy managed to just barely keep up with a child half his age but together kick the ball into the net. To. Geth. Er.

I walked up to hot new teacher and asked, "Do you have experience working with special needs kids?" And she said, while still managing six kids age 6 months to 4 1/2 with one other teacher, "Well, just a little working with a couple of high functioning autistic kids." I just pointed at the Rooster, who has barely met this teacher. She and I both knew as we watched him that he'd love to steal the ball, knock IF on his face, and run for the border, but she continued to pull the strings and work the magic of at least the appearance of kiddy cooperation, and no one got hurt or sad. She said, "Yeah, I kind of just started to get that vibe when you guys came in, I mean, like, I worked with boys who were super high functioning and all, but like the Rooster they weren't so good at... well, what is the word I'm looking for?"

I wanted to buy her presents and hug her for her generous way, for her skills and her comfort in the face of discomfort. She was still running the game, watching the babies, checking on the other teacher...

"Socialization?" I offered.

"Yes," she said. "Thanks. They just needed help with socialization, with playing well with other kids."

All of a sudden the rooster knocked down little IF in a calculated move to make it look like an accident. The teacher never missed a beat, "Wow, IF, great recovery, that was great. I think the rooster is going to pass you the ball now so you both can score! Great, you guys, run! Run! Run!" And they ran. And the ball. Went in. The goal. And the boys. Were happy. Both of them. For over a minute, no less.

I wasn't taking any chances. Desperate to leave on a high note for once, I grabbed my kids and dashed to our car, promising popsicles at home for everyone doing soooooooooo well in the gym.

Tired, they barely tried to kill each other in the car. They actually stared out their windows in silence once in a while, and no hostile words were exchanged until the last few blocks of the drive.

And so we survived the second day of school. With only one more day to go, some would call this a short week, but they would be wrong. It is not a short week. The way I see it, it is the bumpy start to a very long year.


Niksmom said...

THAT was amazing! Very cool!

redheadmomma said...

wow! Can you adopt hot new teacher??

I'm sorry about the bumps, but has many have been telling me, it's the start of a school year, and a little bumpiness is to be expected. Yay to rides home where WWIII isn't going on in the back seat! :) :)