kindergarten starts – sweating many details

2 09 2008

Peter began his kindergarten career this morning.  One of the 1st things he said this morning while still in bed was , “I don’t want to go to school”.  We know him better than to take this seriously.  He likes to say or do things to get  reaction.  Sorry, Peter – you are going to kindergarten today – period.

While waiting a the bus stop with Emma and his parents, Peter showed no signs of being intimidated or afraid.  He waited patiently.  The bus schedule was running terribly late – and wrong.  At one point, a school bus approached, traveling rather fast for our neighborhood street, and blew right by the kids at the bus stop… and plowed right through a stop sign in front of us.  I hoped this was not to be our bus driver… IT WAS.

Emma took Peter’s hand and whisked him on to the bus, and escorted him into a seat.  She sat next to him in an uncharacteristically protective way.  She was teaching her brother by example, displaying a trait that she has never really showed us before – concern & care for Peter.  A shocking display for Kathy & me – one that’s very satisfying.

We were led to believe that a teacher or aide would be at the curb to escort Peter, and any other child in a special kindergarten class.  When the bus arrived at the school, no such escort was available.  I know this because as soon as the bus pulled away from our neighborhood bus stop, I drove like a (very controlled) maniac to beat the bus to the school, using some back-road savvy.  From her spying position (OK, it was the school’s sidewalk), Kathy witnessed the complete lack of Peter’s supervised entry into the school, and his awesome sister taking him by the hand in the door, and directly into the trust of his teacher in his classroom.

Peter’s Mom & Dad were most unhappy.  When your child has special needs, and you entrust this child to a school & its staff, you have to trust they will do what they promise to do – and what they MUST do to ensure the child’s safe & successful entry to a new school, program and classroom.  They let us down – they let Peter down – and Emma was our hero.  This became a day of pride for us, but in this most unexpected, and unnecessary way.

Because of this breakdown of the morning protocols, I felt it necessary to drive back to the school at dismissal time, take my own spying position behind a sign, and watch to see who does, or does not bring Peter out to his new bus after school.  I spotted our bus’ Safety Patrol nicely marching all of the neighborhood kindergartners to the bus, but Peter was not there.  She went back in the school, and emerged with Peter and one of his classroom aides.  I watched them steer Peter into the bus, and I saw his face – he was smiling.

As the aide was returning to the school, I called her over to my hidden perch, and asked how his day went.  She told me he had a wonderful day, and that he adapted to everything perfectly, and was happy all day. When i asked about the morning scenario, it was very casually dismissed as – oh, he’ll just follow everybody in to the school, and he’ll learn his way quickly.  I have mixed feelings about this.  We were assured he would have an adult hand to hold at first.  She was right, though.  Peter has an uncanny sense of direction, and probably would have gone straight to his proper room, even though he had been there only once for open house a few days earlier.

Emma was praised & rewarded mightily for her maturity & sensitivity.  She will continue to escort him in to school for a few more days – until he can just do it himself – I bet he could tomorrow.

Here’s what Peter’s new teacher wrote about Peter in his daily log:

“Peter had a great first day!  He did well following directions and working.  He got along well with his classmates and had a positive attitude all day.”

I’ll continue to sweat the details – I’m his Dad… it’s what I do.  But in the end, he had a great first day of kindergarten.  A Great Day.

This evening, Peter told us that he wants to go back to kindergarten again. OK!

Peter is ready to go!

Peter is ready to go!

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3 responses

3 09 2008
Cyndi

Sorry to hear it didn’t work out the way it was supposed to, but happy that Emma had the situation under control and is such a great helper.
Is that a new backpack Peter has?! 🙂

3 09 2008
Barb

What a wonderful first day. Your story gave me goosebumps!

4 09 2008
Joy

Hooray! What a wonderful story – especially about parents as “spies”. I recall doing the same thing when my son was in high school driving thirtydozen friends to lunch in his car! Way to go Peter! Lovely Emma has special stars in heaven for her good heart.

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