Megan’s first day of school finally arrived. She was so excited. I read on blogs or facebook all the time comments from other moms saying they are so sad to send their children to school and they miss them and they cry. Well, that wasn’t me. I know how much Megan loves and NEEDS school. So I was just happy for her. This is coming from a woman who is near inseparable from her child at ANY other time. I guess I’m cray-cray that way.
These pictures are from back-to-school-night, the night before the first day of school.
Learning where to hang up her bag.
Checking in with her teacher (they had already gotten to know each other a bit at Chinese Immersion Camp.)
Ready to start school and conquer the world!
And here she is on the actual first day of school.
She was SO EXCITED to begin first grade. She loves school! I helped her settle in that first day and then I left her. And although I wasn’t sad, my stomach and heart were a tangled mess because I was terrified that she would have a meltdown. Or that children would be cruel to her. Or that she would get upset and try to leave school to find me (wouldn’t be the first time…) I spent the whole school day in constant prayer. The day couldn’t have gone quickly enough for me.
I’d like to say that when I picked her up everything was happy. I’d like to say the first day of school was sunshine and roses and rainbows and birthday streamers. But it wasn’t. It was awful.
And day two was even worse. I received a phone call from the school telling me she had to be physically removed from the cafeteria because she was having such a severe meltdown. And I was asked to please accompany her to lunch and recess for the rest of the week…and the entire next week.
Megan’s Aspergers and Sensory Integration Disorder got the best of her in the lunch room those first two weeks. Too many noises and smells and foods that she can’t even stand to look at. And then the kids asking her what was wrong and calling her a cry-baby. She just couldn’t process it all or handle it. So I went with her. Every day for two weeks. Even with me there she did not handle it well. I met with the principal and special education coordinator and we decided she needed to be isolated from the lunch room. So for the next week I went with her and she ate in the tiny little private room. All by herself. And the next week I didn’t go with her. And she survived. But just barely. Recess is also hard for her. The kids chase each other about and taunt and touch one another. Megan doesn’t know how to fit into the social role she is supposed to be playing in first grade. So she keeps to herself. Sometimes she plays with a couple other children, but not often. She’s also terrified that she will be late to class after recess. So she wears a watch and watches as each minute ticks by. She hardly nibbles on her lunch and then runs outside to wait alone until the bell rings. I can’t imagine how her little mind handles all her worries and fears and anxieties. Now that we are 6 weeks in, she is doing remarkably well. She still worries about being late and she still eats and plays alone. Children still say cruel things to her, and she still lives in a constant state of anxiety. But when I pick her up at the end of the day; it’s only about half the time now that her face is red and splochy and showing signs of tears and crying. And some days – some glorious days – she tells me that there was no crying at all and that she had a good day. Those are the days I live for.
So I didn’t cry on the first day of school. Big whoop. Instead I have cried nearly every day since. Whether it be in the morning when I hug and kiss her goodbye and I worry about what fears and heartache await her on that day, or when I pick her up at the end of the day and she comes running into my arms and begins to sob because something set her off that day and she is feeling confused and scared. In my mind I know that it will all just take time, and that someday she will have more good days than bad. But in my heart I just hurt and hurt for her. And I don’t always know what to do to help her, but I have to help her anyway. And I don’t always want to be strong for her, but I have to be strong anyway. Reminds me of this quote:
So there you have it. A slightly depressing but completely realistic post about how school has been for Megan so far. I have another post planned about how she is doing academically. And that one is not depressing at.all. In fact, it’s the exact opposite of depressing. It’s awesome. We knew that she would get along with the Chinese Immersion Program just fine. But, like I said, that’s another post.