Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not the First Day I Was Hoping For

Yeah, I was worried about Jack's first day of school. I was worried that he'd be nervous. I'd was worried that he wouldn't listen to his teacher. I was even a little worried that he'd tell his class, "Shut up, you fucking monkeys."

But I still thought he'd make it through the day.

Originally I didn't want to send him to kindergarten this year. I was afraid he wouldn't be able to hack it. I wondered if he shouldn't be placed in a general education classroom, even with supports.

I tortured myself over whether to send him or keep him in preschool for an extra year. Virtually every single person in a position of authority told me he'd do great. Virtually every single person in a position of authority questioned me for questioning whether to send him. Virtually every single person in a position of authority didn't understand why I said he needed as many supports as he did. Virtually every single person in a position of authority has been telling me I'm wrong about how much help he needs.

But they convinced me—or I convinced myself—that he would be okay. That he was ready for kindergarten. That he would struggle, but that he wouldn't fail.

I expected to walk to the bus stop today at 3:15 and pick Jack and Sam up. I expected to not get much information about what their days were like. I expected to hear yes and no answers to my eager questions as they ate the chocolate chip cookies Quinn and I made for them.

I didn't expect to get a phone call from the principal forty-five minutes before school dismissed.

"Jack's had ups and downs today," he said, in the kindest of tones. "He's taking a little break with me in the office right now, but he's had some problems. He also tried to run a couple of times. We're a little worried about putting him on the bus."

He continued; he told me that everything was fine. He told me that there are always a couple of runners. He told me Jack was okay. He suggested that I come get Jack and that we could talk while I was there. He was beyond nice.

I was beyond upset. I was completely heartbroken.

Jack was fine when I picked him up. The principal suggested that we switch things around and leave him in his general ed class in the morning and put him in the special education learning center in the afternoon. He gave me tissues to wipe my tears.


I know this was only the first day and that all kids have trouble adjusting to kindergarten. I know that it will probably get easier for him. I know that it will probably get easier for me.

I know that even if it turns out that he can't do it, that we will find somewhere for him to be. We'll find a program that will work for Jack, be it the one he's in now or a different one.

I know the principal and the staff at his school are willing to work with us and are nicer than I could have hoped for.

I know it's a long road and that this is just one step.

But it's just that this is my Jack. And I'm protective of my Jack. And I'm a little raw today.

Cross your fingers (and toes) for him for tomorrow.


Thank you so much to all of you who extended your kindness to me this afternoon. Thank you to H & S, whom I abandoned at playgroup. Thank you to L, for your kind phone call and email. Thank you to my sister, for your thoughtful virtual flowers. Thank you to Alex, for not listening to me when I said you didn't have to come home early. Thank you to everyone who tweeted back to me. Thank you in advance to you, my community, for the support I know you will give me. All of you mean a lot.


  1. Big hugs for you and Jack but especially you as this whole thing may be harder for you -- it is so painful not to KNOW without question that the path we send our kids on is the right one for them at the time -- you are a strong and articulate advocate for Jack so whether this is the right choice (with the tweaks suggested by the principal) or something else turns out to be - you will find it.

    From one who is sending her daughter to a new school this year and doesn't know if it is the right choice or not

  2. Oh, Stimey, I'm so sorry it was not the first day you'd hoped for. I'll be crossing my fingers for a more smooth second day.

  3. Oh, dear. I'm so sorry. I have been thinking about you and Jack all day.

    Everything you know and say about first days is true, though. My mother taught kindergarten for years and boy, did she have tales to tell us every early September.

    I won't bother tell you any of her -- or my -- shitty first day stories. But rest assured that they all had happy endings.

    Hug your boy, and envision that happy getting-him-off-the-bus day. It's coming.

    Fingers, toes, and eyes crossed for for tomorrow!

  4. I am heartbroken for you and with you. I so completely understand what you are going through, having been down this road (in another vehicle) many times before.

    Hang in there. Hold on to what you know. Hold on to your dear boy and you will find the way. It may not be tomorrow or even this month, but it WILL be.

  5. Hang in there, it'll get better I promise!!!!!

  6. Hugs....
    All I can promise you is that you will learn every day. You will figure things out little by little. Most importantly, listen to your gut, fight for what Jack needs to be successful, and realize you will learn some by trial and error. Listen to the school's suggestions, ponder them, and then follow your gut. You've known Jack his whole life, they've known him for 1 day. I would be concerned that they are eager to change things (schedules and such) after the 1st day...transitions are HARD! My oldest is just figuring 3rd grade out and he's been in school since mid-July! Some unqualified advice since I don't know the whole story: If he doesn't have a paraprofessional (an aide), that is the easiest thing they should be doing to help him transition and for running)...and really, the entire IEP team should meet. I would also document this exchange and your concerns about his safety (with the running).

    Things do tend to get smoother when the routine gets established. ANd I am still alive, so I guess that's proof that this stuff doesn't kill you. Feel free to throw all of this in my face when my 2nd one starts kindergarten next year....

  7. Oh Stimey, I'm so so sorry. I hope tomorrow is a better day.

  8. Crossing everything I've got for tomorrow. Whoever said that having kids was like wearing your heart outside yourself barely scratched the surface. Hang in there. You WILL find the right place/schedule for him!

  9. I thought of you all day and wondered how things were going. I have too much to say for a comment and will send you an e-mail instead. Definitely keeping fingers, toes, etc crossed for tomorrow and the rest of the week. *virtual hugs*

  10. Came back to add something, and saw that Ange already said it, better than I could. One tough day (and a first day, at that) is NOT an indicator that the original plan won't work. Familiarity, routine, and time all work wonders. Have faith in your boy, and realize that setbacks will happen, will crush you, but will so often be temporary.

  11. My heart is breaking for you. I know you wanted a routine first day. But you're right, it IS the first day and there IS adjustments for him to go through. This doesn't mean it will be this way all year. Hang in there, it WILL get better as Jack (and you) figure out what will work best this year. Keep us updated.

  12. Wish I were there to offer a hug, or two, or, failing that, a drink, or two...

    With an advocate like you, Jack is always going to be fine. Better than fine, even. I know it.

    But that doesn't mean that today wasn't really, really tough for you. I'm so sorry.

  13. I totally understand this. My son had good days (mostly) but I have gotten calls from the school telling me I needed to (NOW) get Andy a new backpack because his broke and he was having a meltdown. Calls saying - just so you know - today Andy had to sit out class for a while because he left the classroom and went out into the hall and was rolling on the floor.

    It's hard. But remember - there will be many more good days than bad. It just hurts your heart because you want them to have an easier road. And you're a great Mom because you want so much for Jack. He is so lucky to have your love and your advocacy too.

  14. ***HUGS HUGS HUGS***

    Maybe a smaller-ratio setting, such as a self-contained environment, is a good idea. He may just need more attention to get his needs met. It really isn't as huge a deal as it is sometimes made out to be. Joey is self-contained. He joins an inclusion class (actually, the inclusion class joins his self-contained class) for social studies and science in the afternoons (we could have chosen to have him join the inclusion routines in the morning for language arts, but he really needed the increased attention for speaking skills). This year he'll be in reading group in a "regular" classroom, and at Christmas, we'll add a "regular" math lesson. It's not total seclusion.

    The school needs some time to get used to Jack, and Jack needs to get used to them, so that they have a good grasp of his real needs. It took Joey's first preschool teacher about three weeks to figure out the deal with him, and then we went gangbusters for the rest of the year.

    Hang in there. Push for what you think Jack needs. I'm sorry the school is having to learn the hard way. :P

    ***MORE HUGS***

  15. the best thing Jack's got going for him (besides his Jack-ness) is having a mommy who obviously cares so much.

    Crossing everything for a good second day tomorrow. Change is hard for everyone.

  16. Day by day. Will light a candle and think good thoughts for tomorrow. We've been there, we know.

  17. I've got nothing for you but a hug. I think back to the wonderfully kind woman I met in the checkin line at BlogHer and I want to be able to hug you in person. xoxoxo

  18. What a hard day. My three year old starts his preschool class next week (one funded by Fairfax County Child Find) and I'm dreading the first day.

    He was there last year and after a rocky start, loved it. But it's been a few months and I have NO idea what to expect when the bus comes to get him at daycare. I'm going to drive over from work so I can be there to help. He's now about 50 lbs. and if he "resists" I'm not confident that the sweet lady that runs daycare can physically get him onto the bus. Nothing is ever easy...

    My heart goes out to you and Jack. I understand what it's like to go through these transitions with special needs kids.

  19. Amen to all the wishes about tomorrow being better.

  20. I am really sorry to hear how rough it was (for both of you). Sending hugs to you all!

  21. I'm sorry to hear it was a frustrating first day. I hope things do get better as Jack acclimates to the new environment. Let me know if you want to talk in person (we can meet over cake, coffee, wine, or all of the above).

  22. Hugs to you and Jack.

    The good news is that it sounds like the school is handling this really well. At least there's that right?

    It will get better soon, I'm sure of it! Of course that doesn't make things better now and I totally understand how hard this is for you. My boy is starting a brand new school on Tuesday and I'm worried sick about it. There is nothing harder than sending your very special child off into the great big world.

  23. From one kindergarten first time mom to another, my heart goes right out to you, all the way out - I am so sorry he had a rough first day. Like others mentioned, what a wonderful principal, so patient & comforting. Still. You were worried as it was and then this happened. A thousand hugs and so so much support coming to you from this little part of Florida. Please tell us how he does, please post when he has a great day - because he will very soon I'm thinking! (The only positive thing I've heard back so far from my guy is that he's having fun chasing the girls. Whoo boy.)

  24. "Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to 'jump at de sun.' We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground." - Zora Neale Hurston

    Good luck, one day you will look back and remember this and be amazed at how far he's come.
    Without the downside in life, we can not have the upside.

    Suzanne B.

  25. Just keep remembering that there are people at Jack's school who care about his success. Your job is to keep them caring. Hopefully, today was much better.

  26. Big hugs, Stimey!

    You guys don't need luck to make things better, you'll do it on your own -- I have faith in that!

  27. UGH!!!!

    I'm so sorry. You'll figure it out. You are his mom and you'll know what to do. Trust yourself! Hoping today was better.

  28. I know I'm late replying and I've read that the next day was better, but I just KNOW he'll do well this year. I realize I know little about him or your school, but the fact that the principal called you personally both days is a big thing. It sounds like he's got a great support team at school.

    I've only had the pleasure of working in one school that was supportive of any differences in kiddos. Sounds like you've got a winner.

    First days, weeks, sometimes months are hard. For everyone. I hope he adjusts easily and quickly!

  29. Just getting to this post. I hope that the following days have been easier on Jack...and his mom! xoxo

  30. This will be me next Thursday. I'm glad it's been going better.

  31. I read the next post first, Stimey. The happier post. But still, I felt the raw emotion and I have the lump in my throat to prove it.

    I'm glad that the supports are supportive. And I'm glad that they're working with you at the school.

    And I gotta tell you, now that you're feeling a little better, that phrase, 'there's always a couple runners,' made me smile a little.

    I remember those little runners and I loved them ALL.

  32. A week late, but I'm thinking of you guys and hoping that it has continued to get a little better each day.


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