Back to school: hang on and enjoy the ride.
At back to school time, you see parents joining ranks that vary from sweet Jesus the kids are back in school to *sniff, sniff* the kids are back in school and I’ll miss them so much. That is fine and well. Especially no judgement from me . . .maybe someday I’ll join those ranks before my kids are grown and graduated. You see, I have a whole different outlook on back to school.
I have been taking kids back to school for 12 years now. I am not a newbie at this, but yet I don’t feel quite like a seasoned veteran either. Every August, when other parents are giddy with sports practices beginning and school supplies hitting the store shelves. I am feeling panicked and anxious. Who will be my child’s safe person this year? Will he make one connection with a trusting adult? Will the teacher be patient and understanding his quirks? Will he find one true friend that accepts him for who he is? As we get closer to school starting again, meetings start to fill my August calendar. New case manager, new teachers, and new therapists all want to talk about expectations for the year. Meetings that should be stress free, but they are meetings nonetheless so the stress is present.
Typical kids don’t come with even so much as a instruction booklet, so there definitely isn’t anything for special needs kids. Yet, I see schools hoping for the best and waiting to see what happens. One size does not fit all. One size definitely definitely does not fit all special needs kids. I have advocated for every part of my son’s school day, so we don’t have to take the wait and see approach Morning routine, lunch time, academic time, therapy, and end of the day routine. Plus breaks throughout the day. Without a short break to regulate, he is like a shaken up soda can and then the next demand or request causes him to explode. If I had not talked to anyone and everyone who has a hand in my son’s day to day care, the request for scheduled breaks would not have been taken seriously.
And prior to school starting, our days were filled with short trips to school to get used to entering through the front door, saying hi to the faces we meet in the hallway, putting our supplies away, and finding out where the classes will be in each hallway. I have been called forward, loud, bitchy, emotional, knowledgeable, intense, serious, passionate. And all of that is correct, because when I am advocating for my child, I am all of these plus more.
My outlook on school is not always giddy with excitement, because it is a reminder of the work that we have ahead of us. It can be a wild ride for sure, but with a lot of prep work and coaching behind the scenes my outlook can be full of optimism and hope. Optimism and hope for the teachers and administrators tasked with leading and teaching our children. Optimism and hope that the prep work done prior to school pays off for both my son and his staff. Optimism and hope for both of my children that they will have great experiences on their paths throughout the school year.
All my best to you,