Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Smelling the Roses

I'm NOT saying that I'm optimistic about kindergarten. THAT would be foolhardy. I think the last time I was optimistic, Bill Clinton (and his wife) had this good idea about reforming health care...

Today, my son's first day in kindergarten, his first day in public school, had plenty of challenges. Plenty more await us. ALL I am saying is that on this one day, I could see the good side of most of the bad sides.

We started our day by parking FAR away from the Rooster's school, because the only close spaces were right by the school that he no longer can call his own, and while I'm glad he's moving on, for him it remains a bitter pill. Good side of the long schlep? We walked along the four blocks with many other families, and I felt a sense of belonging to the new community. We met people, we smiled, we hadn't yet burned bridges. When we got to the auditorium, we quickly found the class assignment list, and the Roo is not in the classroom I've heard so many great things about. At first, this bummed me out. The good side, though? Later, the teacher explained that they expect to shuffle kids around the first two weeks. At least five kids can expect to change rooms. Plus, while the teacher didn't overly impress, the aide assigned to Rooster went out of her way to welcome me and put me at ease. She knew his file, assured me she'd made herself well aware of his allergies, that she's done this all many times before.

Parents spent the first hour or so of the day in the room getting the lay of the land. One little boy who seemed to be missing a parent cried heavy, hiccuping sobs in the corner while the teacher talked. Seeing that the teacher offered him little empathy, my Roo took it upon himself to approach the boy. I couldn't reach Roo, or hear what he said, but when it had no consoling impact, he took things up a notch, and reached out and hugged the boy. Seeming to calm him a little, Roo finally went all out and planted a kiss on his cheek! The boy didn't like that, pulled away, and finally Roo had had enough. "Fine, then," he loudly announced, "but you are crying too loud and hurting my ears!" This got the teacher's attention, and she asked, "Whose child is this?" She meant the sad boy, not the Roo; she wanted someone to take the boy and get him quiet, and that made me worry a little bit about her empathy level. The good news? Clearly, autism or no, empathy is not lacking in my little guy. We have to master appropriateness and mood regulation, but surely he's A-okay with empathy, at least some of the time.

After school, I picked the boy up and helped transition him for the first time to after care. When I excitedly asked about his day, he described it as, "Not too good." Why? He said, "Today I felt dumb."

Well, OUCH. That? That's bad. How can that have an upside? Because a year ago, and certainly before a year ago, I could not have imagined my son expressing his emotions to me in that articulate way. They might not be the emotions I hoped for, but I couldn't be more proud of his language. We will address the feeling dumb part for sure, now that we know about it.

On the way to after care, which is run by the same people who ran his summer camp, we crossed paths with several children Roo recognized. A couple called out happily, "It's ROOSTER! I missed you!" One let Roo give her a big hug. He had nothing but smiles for the familiar kids and adults in after care, and he also has an aide there as well.

In theory, I will be out of town for the next two days. I didn't mean the calendar to work out this way, and it's hard to miss his second and third days of school. The good side? Daddy will get a turn to get a feel for the new school, having missed the first day to take Peaches to a doctor's appointment.

Yeah, I'm still PLENTY worried about kindergarten. But today is just the first day, so I'm pacing myself. And along the way, I'm smelling a few roses.


Niksmom said...

Pssst...*hushed tones* I'm whispering so I don't attract the fickle fates.

I'd say that sounds like a really good beginning.

How's Peaches today?

Anonymous said...

i'm living right there with you .. smack dab in the middle of the reframe.

have a GREAT trip!

Stephanie said...

yes, smell them. and have faith. i think that teachers and students, in combination with each other, enrich and bring out wonderful things out in another.

but then again, N is only in preschool. so maybe this is naive on my part.

Kate McFadden said...

How have things gone since the first day? Hope you've had more injections of hope by way of the teacher and a good dose of optimism.