Sunday, August 29, 2010

Here We Go Again: Back to School 2010

I don't know if I'm ready to dance a jig or throw up out of nervousness.

I might do both.

I have been waiting for this day for so long. Do you want to know what is on my calendar this coming week? Almost entirely big blank squares just waiting for me to fill them with the work I usually do at night after my kids go to bed. And naps. Honestly, it seems unreal.

My work load and list of things to do has been piling up faster than I can do them. I haven't had more than a couple of hours to myself during daylight time for close to nine years now. The thought of six uninterrupted hours five days in a row to do things is mind boggling to me. I almost can't wrap my mind around it.

Last spring I wrote about all the ways my life would change once my kids go to school, and I am so excited to start living that way, but first I'm going to have just a tiny little FREAK OUT because as the start of school gets closer and closer (and dear lord, it's TOMORROW by now), the more I start to worry.

You'd think I'd be worried about Quinn, the kindergartener, but I'm pretty sure he'll do fine. He knows a bunch of the kids going into kindergarten at his school and two of his good friends will be in his class. Plus he's really excited. He's watched his brothers go to elementary school for so long, I think he's really ready.

Quinn at Open House.

As for Sam, well, Sam will be fine. He has some anxiety about school, but for the most part he does great. I mean, he is going to school in a trailer (called a "portable" around these parts) instead of actually in the school building, but he'll do well.

Too cool for mom to take a photo.

Which leaves us with Jack. I'm worried about Jack. Sometimes school seems a little bit like a torture chamber for him. I've been trying to prepare him by teaching him to tell his teachers when he needs a break or if it's too noisy, but I'm not sure he'll be able to do that when he's in the middle of it.

I wrote up a Who is Jack? paper to give to his teachers and aides and maybe the lunch lady/crossing guard/random stranger in the hall if I happened to run across them, and Jack found a draft that I'd left sitting in the TV room. I found him Friday morning reading it.

Weirdly, I felt kind of caught red-handed.

"Jack, does that sound okay?" I asked, to which he responded with a thumbs up. He's never seen my little fact sheets about him before, but since one of the points on the sheet is that I am trying to teach him to advocate for himself, it seems reasonable that he read it.

Open House didn't really help with my nerves. We walked in the door and Jack started ping ponging around and humming. It was really overwhelming in a lot of ways and reminded me how hard school, with all of its stimuli, is for Jack.

His teacher was really nice and when the principal asked how I was doing and I said, "Nervous," his response was, "We'll take good care of him." And I know they will, but, oy. I'm worried.

I'll let you know tomorrow how things went. If you don't follow me on twitter yet, it might be a good time to start. I almost guarantee you that I will be swinging all over the place and spewing a lot of untethered emotions around there tomorrow.

Wish us luck. (Also, good luck to all of you. I know a bunch of you will be sending your kids in tomorrow—or already have, or will soon. My good wishes are with you as well.)


I wrote a piece for Laura Shumaker's SF Gate column about this very thing. Check it out: Back to School: Autism Style.

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