While there were people in the middle school setting who gave us a similar reassurance, they were too few. But on my way home after the first time I visited Hayden's new school I actually started crying. It was an overwhelming sense of such relief that I became emotional, albeit mixed with an equally overwhelming sense of worry having no idea how we would make this work. But in all honesty I think the gist of my upset was what had beenrepeating in my mind over & over again.... How did we get to this point.
You know the story. You know we spent the greater part of the last school year preparing Hayden for some place where we thought he'd be for the next four. Yet here we are. And the primary factors which help him feel comfortable in this world-- consistency, familiarity & routine-- are being disrupted.
The first day of Spring marked a new beginning for Hayden, too. Aside from commuter traffic resulting in our late arrival-- which luckily the regular Monday hustle & bustle inside the school itself sort of masked-- I was surprised (& relieved) how well day one turned out. The teacher's note said they had learning centers, math, & that Hayden played cars with the other boys during recess. Karate was cancelled so they had art-- not H's favorite-- but overall a very positive first day. The part of the note that nearly had me choked up was a simple sentiment the teacher added: "Have a good afternoon". Not just... here's how your son did... but also I hope you (Mom) are doing well, too.
So the first morning (& afternoon) was thumbs-up but the second morning was different. I couldn't even get Hayden to close the car door-- let alone put his seat belt on-- so we could actually pull out of our driveway. He was quite dis-regulated & thrashing about. When we finally did leave at one point he suddenly reached forward & deliberately put my truck in neutral. It was scary but thank goodness (to say the least) we were stopped at a traffic light when it happened.
When we got to the school Hayden did not want to get out of the car. The Principal tried to help with some verbal prompting & then suggested getting Hayden's aide. A little while later when Hayden still hadn't exited our vehicle the teacher came outside next. Eventually she & the aid had to work together to get him out of the car. When he finally stood he literally wrapped himself around me with three out of four limbs leaving only one foot grounded to support himself. I just remember he kept pleading with me that he wanted to go home. I don't know how I held myself together, but then getting him through the doors required a third person to assist the teacher & the aide.
After that I didn't know what to do with myself. I circled the building & the parking lot & then decided to call the pharmacy just to give me something to do until I had the courage to drive away. I needed to follow-up about a refill anyway. But after I dialed another call came in. My phone is synced with my truck & I hit the button that I thought would automatically switch me to the new call. Instead, both calls were dropped & the second one went to voicemail. When I retrieved the message it was the Principal calling to let me know that Hayden was okay. He was not yet inside the classroom but he was in the hall, he was calm, & he was pushing his toy truck up the wall. I was beyond grateful for the update.
At the end of the day his teacher still said it was good-- her note said, "this morning he did well... we had OT & PT... music was great, he was dancing & playing with drums... ate lunch... recess, played cars with the kids... did some more math (still trying to gauge where he's at). He also worked on a seasonal art project which I understand he was not too happy about, but he did it & apparently gave them quite a laugh when he said they work him too hard. But he enjoyed an afternoon snack & then the teacher concluded her note with, "hopefully he will get out the car tomorrow... have a great afternoon!"
Day three technically he did get out the car, but only after our second trip to school that morning. We almost arrived on time that day but when we got off the exit he vomited on himself (fragile x + anxiety + strong gag reflex). I pulled into a gas station & after depleting two travel pouches of hand wipes & almost an entire box of tissues, it was evident that we would need a sink, a washing machine, & a change of clothing for him to go to school. Sooo back on the highway we would go, but not before calling the school to explain that hopefully Hayden would be there, just later in the morning. Except I did not even have the school's phone number saved in my contacts yet.
So I quickly looked it up & the woman who answered the phone clearly did not seem to know me. This was particularly surprising because I had met the secretary several times. But speaking of time, in the interest of it, I quickly dismissed my curiosity & explained that we were right down the road but Hayden had just thrown up all over himself. So I would need to bring him back home first. It was then that the woman on the phone finally said, "Are you trying to reach the school?"
Apparently I was speaking with someone from the township-- i.e. not the front office of the school-- or even in the same building. So I'd say that conversation allowed for a mutually great start to both of our days: I tell random lady my name, my child's name, proceed to reveal the fact that he just vomited on himself, & add that we're headed back to [insert name of where we live]... while said lady gets a hefty dose of TMI, bright & early!
Under other circumstances I may have felt humiliated for the greater part of my morning (& then some). But having driven a total of approximately eighty miles (two round trips) & finally getting my son to school a little after 10AM, I was entirely too distracted to give a shit that the people from the township knew that Mrs. Capela's Hayden threw up & would be late for school.
The only reason I got Hayden back in the car after going all the way home, by the way, was because it just so happens that Pop Z was picking him up from school that day. Barely even hesitated to reveal the surprise because I needed the ammo for follow-through! So in the future I'll have to remember to arrange that, should my child ever regurgitate again after we exit off of the highway. When all was said & done the teacher described his day with two greats, not just one-- great, great day-- & added really wonderful.
I remember some of Hayden's toughest days at the other school started out as a perfectly fine morning at home. These are the details you don't forget because as a parent when something goes very wrong, you have to be your own detective & you replay the day's events in your mind to try & make sense of everything. So when I think about the number of transitions that were added to Hayden's morning last Wednesday before he even stepped foot in the school building, the overall success of his day is only further evidence of what happens when a child is surrounded by the right people.
Next was Thursday. This was actually the second morning without meds because Hayden didn't eat his breakfast at all (vs Wednesday, which was a combination of not finishing his breakfast & of course throwing up what he did eat). We arrived even later on Thursday than we did on Monday & Tuesday-- a combination of having a tough time leaving the house plus even more traffic than days prior. When we got inside the school that morning the first people we saw near the front office were the nurse & the aide. Hayden vocalized that he was late again & the nurse simply said, "You're not late, that's the thing with this school."
That is the thing-- appropriate expectations. Their day starts when they get there. We're not talking about someone in college who overslept & was late to class. These are students but they are kids, & everyone needs to keep circumstances in perspective. Once again when all was said & done, the daily entry in the communication journal began with "good day".
Friday for the most part was less eventful & not only that, it was actually the first day we were finally on time. Although I would have been grateful either way because at least he ate breakfast that day! The teacher's note reiterated how excited she was that he had such a great first week. I also love that most afternoons he talks to me for part of the ride home & tells me snippets about his day-- in his own way-- but I can piece it together.
Throughout the week though, & even this weekend, he has been asking about people from the other school. For example, he thought his speech therapist from middle school might be at the new school. She had worked with him at the elementary school & was the only one who wasn't new when he got to middle school. So I understand why he put that thought together. And I know he's still somewhat confused... they had a big farewell, yet it wasn't the end of the school year... & then he started somewhere new... & there was no transition-- it was one day, & then weeks later his first day. And the commute itself is quite a bear. Not just the mileage on my truck, the cost of gas, but even worse this whole schedule is interfering with me being able to work. Furthermore we're dealing with details such as web access in the car, for a mini tablet reserved for coping with traffic, which is otherwise a major behavior trigger for him. And meanwhile it is eating up my husband's data plan. Honestly the list goes on. But unless I could interview & hand pick a driver & transportation aide myself, at this point the luck-of-the draw is too much to gamble on such a long trip to & from school every day. The last people he was paired with would rarely even say good morning when he was picked up. He is a young child with a disability & this isn't public transportation.
But as far as the people whose care he is in, I do not have any serious reservations about them. Still getting to know everyone obviously, but the fact that Hayden told me on more than one afternoon when I picked him up: school was good... I had fun....
So I'll take my son's word for it. (Versus the voice inside me that is so proud, it is almost convincing me to share the news with the lady from Wednesday.) I don't expect that everything will be all smooth sailing ahead. I also know there are certain people Hayden does miss seeing & there's a lot that he is still confused about (rightfully so).
But good & fun...
they are a really, really great start.