Clouds, May 2010

Clouds, May 2010

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

'twas the night before

So I arrived at the school Tuesday afternoon to deliver my annual FX talk, for the people who will be working with Hayden this year. Grade 3. Goodness gracious.

Anyway, Tuesday was one of two Teacher In-Service days, & I was scheduled to speak 30 minutes before they were dismissing. (Who knew they had a scheduled dismissal time for an in-service day.) I arrived a little bit early & the new Principal seemed harried to gather everyone. When I realized it was down to 25 minutes before dismissal, I finally asked if I should start heading to the library (which is basically at the farthest end from the front office).

Instead, they directed me to the (new) Principal's office (I'll stop saying the "new" part). There were a few adults assembled around a table-- I recognized his case manager, the nurse, & his Special Ed teacher Miss B. Then his new Gen Ed teacher came in as well. I had a chance to meet her when I came home from vacation for a couple of days last week-- I had already scheduled a meeting when she was at the school for new hire orientation. She is young, very friendly, & seemed immediately receptive to my input. I felt hopeful after we spoke. I also think it's fantastic that she herself attended that very school when she was a kid, & now she is back there teaching!

There were two other faces who I didn't know, but came to learn that one was a new Education Consultant & the other was the art teacher (who I only knew by name, but had never met).

I have no idea why we were crammed in the Principal's office, when previous years we had our little discussion in the library where we could actually breathe... & anyone who wanted to join, could... but here we were. Just a handful of us...

Granted the first year I did this there were probably 20 people present, & last year it was down to about a dozen, but having only half that in front of me did not seem right. Where was his Aide-- both past & present-- as the former one of SIX YEARS said she would join us, & his current one (whoever that would be) was supposedly asked to join us as well...

What about the therapists? And all the other teachers for specials-- not just art... where was everyone?

We were now down to about 20 minutes before dismissal. I heard the woman in the front office begin to make an announcement over the loud speaker & I was finally thinking, "Oh, good-- maybe she is just reminding everyone..."

Not exactly. She simply stated that the school was closing at half past the hour. Like being in a store, & they're reminding you it's time to bring all of your purchases to the front.

The Principal popped her head in the doorway too see if I wanted to go ahead & start, but I asked again about the new Aide, to which she sort of stuttered, &  then said she would be right back. She returned with a young, big fellow who I had never seen before. By now it was about 15 minutes prior to the school being locked up, & someone had literally already turned out the lights in the main hallway.

Well, so much for the individually-wrapped Hostess treats I brought, with napkins, & bottles of water for everyone... certainly no need for refreshments this year!

I plopped the mini cakes in the center of the table, passed around some water, & began speaking.

It turns out the young man who the Principal came back with, would be Hayden's Aide.

I gave everyone a copy of his Positive Student Profile brochure. I prefaced the conversation by saying that in the interest of time I would not be able to talk through all of the points, & began by directing them to my contact information on the back.

I primarily focused on the importance of consistency with Hayden, & looked towards the new Education Consultant who was thankfully writing this down. Then I made sure to address his new Aide when I explained about working through behaviors, & to please speak up if he ever needs help. Otherwise, I wanted to emphasize that everyone else should ignore them because the more attention that the staff gives to Hayden if he is having a tough time, then the more attention the students will give to Hayden... & I do not need them noticing him when he's having a rough moment.

(It is important to explain this to people, because it obviously goes against our natural instincts to help someone when they are struggling. But assuming Hayden's Aide is by his side, everyone else should keep doing what they were doing & leave them be.)

I looked at the clock again, concluded the discussion prematurely due to timing, & we wrapped up a couple minutes past the designated closing time. Miss B stopped to speak with me in the hallway, but unfortunately the new Aide did not.

Not that I "blame" him... but I do feel like the success of Hayden's day is basically in the hands of a stranger. However according to Miss B, Hayden at least knows of this person because he was an Aide for another 2nd grade student last year (which means it is someone in H's grade, although I do not know who).

I will say when I got home from the school yesterday, I asked H if he knew who Mr. M was & he said, "he's an Aide." So that is a good sign that he remembers him... I guess... (I'm grasping over here...)

Definitely the highlight of my visit was actually when I was leaving. I saw the art teacher in the parking lot & long story short, her niece's son has fragile x! And it turns out that I met her niece at the Conference in California this summer! Crazy small world we live in.

This afternoon I returned to the school to drop off some items that Hayden keeps in the Special Ed room, with Miss B, just in case of emergency. I figured this way he would have less to schlep on the school van tomorrow. I was able to get Hayden to come with me-- it was a close one, though-- typical fragile x with yes then no then yes... & the same thing happened when we actually arrived at the school. But I have trained myself to not react (it isn't easy), & just going about it as if it's not a big deal either way (without actually saying so). He finally, slowly, got out of the truck & we headed towards the entrance of the school.

We happened to run into several familiar faces including some who were actually just stopping at the school to visit, & no longer work there-- but it was great, because it was only us & everyone we passed wanted their dose of H :) Hugs were given one by one & it took us a few minutes to make it to the end of that front hall, but I didn't mind. We brought the shopping bag of stuff down to Miss B's room, he got a preview of the new setup in her classroom, & shortly after he was ready to go.

By some miracle I was able to detour him to meet his new Gen Ed teacher. He actually extended his hand for a half-shake of sorts, & I was grateful for that much. At least now he knows where he is going tomorrow & who she is.

If this year is like all others, Hayden's will begin with the honeymoon phase (as his team calls it). He will be happy & compliant & everything will be coming up roses. The part I am worried about is when it really sets in, that this is the Aide who is now going to help him through his day, every day. He is still talking about his former Aides-- including the one from summer who he knew well-- so I don't think it has sunk in.

Trying, however, to focus on how grateful I am that at least the transportation component has not changed. And at least we have this year & next year before the BIG transition to the upper elementary. Oy.

And I am thanking my lucky stars that two hours ago when I sent a nervous last-minute text to Miss B going on & on about whether or not Mr. M knows this, that, & the other thing-- that she (a) answered, & (b) told me that she already told him that (bless her soul), & (c) said, "It's all good! We will have a great day!"

In the interim, the scene in our house tonight was me sighing over years worth of first days of school pictures, Dan sitting contently in his office, & our no-longer-ill & back-to-his-hyper-self child jamming in the dark living room by the light of the iPad-- to the apple bottom jeans song, before switching to the oldies... 'come go with me'... using his loud leaf blower toy as his instrument...


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