Well today was the day we put our little boy on the bus. Dry eyes? Not a chance. Fear? Immense. Hope? You betcha! We went to Folger yesterday to meet the teacher and Jack did beautifully. He was polite and well-behaved. And mommy got to get a picture of Jack and Daddy in front of the elementary school that they have now both gone to- so cool. While I was talking to the teacher, Jack was asked to write his name and draw a picture of himself. He did both with no prompting or reminding. I don't know if that's typical or not- but to me it felt extraordinary. My boy follows directions and completes tasks- Score! We were able to work on little things like how to open a locker, etc, which actually gave me some comfort- and I know they will help them these first few weeks. It's new for all the kids. We also had the opportunity to meet the special educator, who made the effort to come find us and introduce herself. We also received a letter from his OT. A good start...
Jack really seemed to get that this is a big deal. He has watched me assembling all of his supplies, labeling everything except his actual body, packing his lunch, etc. He's been talking about the bus for a long time, and was so excited to get to ride finally. He did ask multiple times if I would be coming with him, but seemed to accept it when I told him he had to go with the other kids.
It was very reassuring to me that all of the kindergarten kids have these on their backpacks- have been so worried about him getting lost in the shuffle!
I won't deny that I was a little shaky this morning while packing his lunch and getting him dressed. I was talking to a male coworker of mine yesterday, and we agreed that at a milestone like this one, all you can picture is your guy as an infant. It's especially poignant for me to put him on the bus because we used to walk past this exact bus stop every morning before work and watch the kids. Jack would sometimes cry to get on the bus too. I would say "someday when you're big". He's not big!!!! Well, I guess he is....he seems so small to me.
Jack got on the bus, no muss no fuss, in fact he told daddy to stop holding his hand. John and I looked at each other like, sniff, sniff. But I am extremely proud of him. So he wandered all the way to the back of the bus and then back to the front when the driver called him....so what? He was brave! I would like to say that I didn't follow the bus- well I guess that technically I didn't. John and I drove straight to the school and hid so that we could watch him get off of the bus, make sure he got where he needed to be. There were an army of teachers waiting for the kindergarten kids. Seemed almost like 1 person to each kid as they got off the bus. We could see Jack just talking and talking away to everyone around him. No tears, no resistance. He was ready to go! We must be doing something right.....
Sending any child to school, on a bus, for the first time is very nerve wracking. Add special needs to the picture and it feels like you are climbing Mount Everest. I know that I'm a worry wart and I don't apologize for it- Jack needs for me to worry. He needs someone in his corner, advocating for him. I worry he won't pay attention, I worry he will get lost, I worry he will be bullied. But I know that he will try to do what is asked of him, and that I have prepared him in the best way I have known how. John and I could not be any prouder of our little boy today.
One of my coworkers and best friends sent me this letter this morning. Her aunt sent it to her on her son's first day of school (maybe 25 years ago). And today she shared it with me. She also gave me permission to share it with you....and yes, you will cry!
My son starts to school this week.
It's all going to be strange and new to him for awhile, and I wish you would sort of treat him gently. He's been boss of the backyard, I have always been around to repair his wounds and I've always been handy to soothe his feelings. But now. . . things are going to be different. He is going to walk down the front steps, wave his hand, and start on his great adventure that probably will include wars and tragedy and sorrow. To live his life in the world he has to live in, will require faith and love and courage.
So, teacher, I wish you would sort of take him by his young hand and teach him the things he will have to know. Teach him. . . but gently --- if you can. He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, that all men are not true.
Teach him that for every scoundrel, there is a hero, that for every crooked politician there is a dedicated leader. Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. Let him learn early that bullies are the easiest people to lick.
Teach him the wonders of books. Give him the quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on a green hill.
Teach him that it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all men, but to filter all her hears on a screen of truth and then take only the good that comes through.
Teach him to sell his brawn and brains to the highest bidder, but never put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob, and to stand and fight if he thinks he's right.
Teach him gently, but don't coddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
This is a big order, teacher, but see what you can do.
He's such a nice, little fellow, my son.
He's such a nice, little fellow, my son.