Transitions have always been difficult, but we learned early on to give advance warning whenever possible and that has helped.
It is exhausting having to explain to teachers every year, how best to communicate with my chold. I always got that “Oh! You are one of those parents” raised eyebrows, nods and pretend smiles.
Teachers always came around about mid year, when they would finally realize that I knew a little something about my child. Although by that time, they had pretty much missed the opportunity to connect with her. That was before middle school, when there was only one teacher to try and educate!
My daughter was a regular at the nurses station or the school counselors office. She would visit the nurse because she “couldn’t move her legs” (even though she miraculously got from her classroom to the nurses office). She always wanted to go home. It was always something. Her belly hurt, she couldn’t walk, she couldn’t use her arms. Mornings were fun, up until it was time to go to school.
My child has always been a bright child. In fact, she always asked questions. Most questions, I never even thought to ask and didn’t have an immediate answer to. Her vocabulary was eerily advanced for her age. She learned to read exceptionally quickly. I never expected there to be issues in school. But issues there were/are!
My child was that child who refused to follow the classroom rules. Not ALL the classroom rules. Just the ones that legitimately didn’t make sense to her. In kindergarten, I remember worrying that my kid would be the first kid in history to get kicked out of kindergarten! I started getting used to the warning notes home that would say “not following rules, last to line up, doesn’t pay attention in class, distracted, wanders off…”
I was mortified when I first volunteered in her kindergarten classroom. All the kids were circled around the teacher, repeating the lesson while my kid was sitting at her desk cutting her eraser into little itty bitty pieces inside her desk, seeming to not pay one bit of attention to the teacher! Now, to put this in context I feel that I must share with you that I was always that student who sat in the front row and raised my hand every time the teacher asked a question, I did my homework even before getting home, or in advance of the due date AND waited anxiously, scared I would fail when the fact was, I always made A’s. Me, Miss all A’s throughout school watching my five year old not have a care in the world, other than apparently making the worlds tiniest eraser. You can imagine my dismay!
She refused to write to a prompt EVER. She would argue, “why do I have to write about that! That (insert prompt) is dumb, or doesn’t have any meaning to me.” And, “because those are the rules and you have to follow them” wasn’t a valid enough response to exact a change. Much like it was at home, there seemed to be a battle of the wills between teacher and my child and you can guess who “won” EVERY SINGLE BATTLE. If you can call being called out and embarrassed in front of all your classmates EVERY SINGLE DAY winning, or failing classes winning. It’s never been about winning or losing for my child. It’s always been about understanding. If the teacher could have given her a reasonable response to “why do I have to write to a pre-determined prompt,” I have absolutely no doubt that she would have written to it. OR, God forbid they allow her to use her imagination and write something meaningful!
Halfway into kindergarten, I was being told by the teacher that I needed to have my child tested for ADHD! I was alarmed! She was FIVE! Yes, she had an active imagination – okay, a very active imagination. But she was FIVE!!! I wasn’t about to medicate my five year old!
We changed schools after I was notified that my kid wandered off during a field trip, only to be found by a bus driver in the parking lot! I was absolutely horrified! They put the blame on my five year old! Not on the parents who were supposed to be chaperoning! I knew at that moment that she would never go on a field trip without me again!
I was often envious of parents who could go to the store or to the zoo or even to the corner without having to supervise their child every step of the way. I was amazed – absolutely amazed by parents who walked together IN FRONT OF their little kids (younger than mine) and their kids followed them! What a concept! My child was, once again, different.
My child saw EVERYTHING and was mesmerized by everything. If left to her own devices, she would stop and examine every blade of grass, looking to find a bug (she loved bugs). We had those days when we didn’t have to be somewhere at some predetermined time and we could enjoy the grasshoppers, the butterflies, the flowers, the ants, spiders, caterpillars, the leaves and trees and those were beautiful times. I now wish we had more of those times!
Sports were out of the question, although we tried. She had absolutely no interest in competitive sports. When we signed her up for soccer, she was excited until she got on the field. She could care less about the Game! The ball would roll right by her, everybody screaming her name to get the ball, and she wouldn’t see it because she was too busy admiring the grasshopper she found!
There was such a beauty in her ability to appreciate every moment that I didn’t understand at the time. Instead, I was embarrassed that my kid wasn’t doing what she was supposed to be doing. I was too busy comparing my child to other children! If I only knew then what I know now, I would have spent more time in the park searching for butterflies and insects and less time pushing social agenda on her.
In first grade, she made her first real friend, Beth (not her real name). I signed her up for girl scouts, which she actually liked (but most likely because Beth was always there). This was the time she learned new things and didn’t have to be attached to my hip all the time. The first sleepover at the camp leaders home (which happened to be Beth’s mom) was absolutely nerve wrecking! I warned the leader that my child would probably have a really hard time and that she could call me at any time. After all, my kid never slept! Well, wasn’t I surprised when I didn’t get a phone call! The next morning, when I went to pick her up, the camp leader told me that my child actually helped other kids that were having a hard time to calm down by teaching them deep breathing exercises!
I was amazed because try as I might (and I’ve never given up trying) to teach her deep breathing or meditation techniques to relax, she never seemed to pay much attention. Well, she was paying attention! My child often uses the same calming techniques on me and others that I have tried to help her use and only received resistance from her. This was a glimpse into my child’s mind that gave me much comfort.
She had the tools. Whether or not she chose to use them when she needed them was another story.