I was looking forward to posting tonight. I envisioned myself writing this enthusiastic update on how well our meeting went, that Finn had a better day today, and that I felt everything was on the upswing. I won't be writing an update like that.
I used to be a very negative person. Or maybe a worried person is a better description. For a long time, my sisters called me Hana--short for Chanukah--because they said I spent more time worrying than a Jewish grandmother (truly, not meant to offend anyone from the Jewish faith). And I have to say, it was true. I might even have been known to kvetch, as well.
I still spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about things which may or may not happen. But you can't go around worrying like that in front of your kids, so I try to be positive, give people the benefit of the doubt, and think that the best possible outcome might be the very first thing that happens.
I don't feel like that right now. Kvetch. Kvetch. Kvetch.
I woke up this morning feeling positive. I was looking forward to our meeting with Finn's teacher, the OT and the principal. Things started out well. We went through Finn's medical history, his social development (or lack thereof), his education to date (one year of preschool) and his experiences with sensory processing issues to date. Finn's OT went through a lengthy report she had prepared which walked the teacher through what SPD is and strategies for best helping Finn.
All through the meeting the teacher was nodding, agreeing, listening, discussing examples with the OT, etc. I was feeling really good.
And then at the end of the meeting, we stood up, shook hands all around, and he said, "But if you wouldn't come to lunch it would really help his separation issues." WHAT? I wondered if I'd heard him correctly. You mean we just spent 90 minutes going through all of this, helping you understand why this kid is behaving this way and you still don't see how me coming to lunch with him for the time being will help everyone in this room?
Perhaps I was the only one who took this comment that way though.
Eamonn and I walked outside with the OT went to meet Finn for lunch and observe the lunchroom. Eamonn's first words were something to the effect of, "Well, apparently the teacher didn't quite get what we were talking about in there."
And when I met with the OT after lunch, she made the same comment.
I am not crazy. I am not crazy. I am not crazy. It helps to remind myself of that sometimes.
When I was wrapping up my comments to the teacher and principal, I think I ended with something like, "Bottom line, a good portion of this kid's life has been pretty crappy. I want him to stop having a crappy life right now and if that means I need to come to lunch, then I'm coming to lunch." Was I not succint enough? I thought using the word crappy in a kindergarten setting was pretty succint, but perhaps not.
Tonight I had a lengthy conversation with another of the kindergarten teachers. We met at Bible study last year and I adore her. She is everything a kindergarten teacher should be. She has experience and compassion. Not to say that Finn's teacher won't have these attributes one day--I still want to give him the benefit of the doubt--but Finn needs these things right now. Right. Frickin'. Now. And while Eamonn and I were discussing the fact that we want to support Finn's teacher and understand that he is new and needs to the opportunity to learn, at what point do you really make a stink and say, "It is not serving my child well to be the learning lab for this newbie."
Today the OT told Finn's teacher that while it might work fine for most kids to just be walked to the cafeteria and turned loose, that won't work for Finn. He needs to be escorted to a seat (preferably the same one each time) and helped to get settled. The teacher said that would be hard to do logistically with all of these kids (the school is bulging at the seams so there are 22 or 23 kids in each of the 5 kindergarten classes). He dismissed it out of hand.
I think the real answer here is that it COULD be done if the teacher WANTED to do it. Because Mrs. I Think She Walks On Water Kindergarten Teacher has stepped up and said she will be the one to go to Finn in the cafeteria and help him get settled. I have just elevated her to Angel status so from this sentence forward, she will be Mrs. Angel. When I spoke with her tonight on the phone, she said she heard someone crying in the bathroom today before lunch, and when she went in to see who it was, it was, of course, Finn, who was upset about the coming lunchtime. Angst.
So many of the specials staff and reading teachers have come up to me and said what a dear Finn is and have offered to be there for him while he works through all of this. For that, I am so grateful.
Tomorrow we have a plan in place with Mrs. Angel Kindergarten Teacher and the librarian, who is always on lunch duty (poor soul). Mrs. Angel will get Finn settled and then Mrs. Librarian will take over, letting Finn know she's there. We'll see how it goes.
And I have to admit there's a little bribery going on here. We have said that each day he can get through the day without crying, he will receive a special surprise. "Books?" he asked me, without much enthusiasm. Dang it. How did he know? So for Monday and Tuesday, that hasn't seemed to have worked. There was a crying scene at drop off this morning. But today he came home and said he really wanted to try again tomorrow. . .if he could try to earn some Pokemon cards. Pokemon. Trains. A litter of puppies. Gold boullion. Whatever, kid. I'm ready to pull out all the stops.
My goal is to NOT go to the school tomorrow so we can get a feel for where he's at with all of this. If it does not work, because I am at my core, Hana, the Jewish Grandmother (even though I'm actually Presbyterian), and I have to think about what MIGHT or MIGHT NOT happen, I'm implementing an emergency relief plan and everyone else's opinion be dammed. Mrs. Angel talked to me about this tonight--that ultimately, we are the parents and we have to do what we think is right and not worry about what anyone else thinks. Because I do have this underlying annoyance when I think people are judging me. Anyway, I have to stop that.
What I think will work for Finn is falling back on methods that got us through 3 1/2 years of chemo, which is stepping Finn through the process, laying it out in a pictorial pattern (like on a calendar), and moving gradually. Baby steps. Really, really tiny ones.
Week One: Me having lunch at school all five days.
Week Two: Me having lunch at school four days. Finn picks the days.
Week Three: Me having lunch at school three days. Finn picks the days.
Week Four: Me having lunch at school two days. Finn picks the days.
Week Five: Lunch at school one day a week. I intend to keep eating lunch at school one day a week for eternity--the day I work in the classrooms. I did this with Declan and it was a nice treat and gave him something to look forward to.
I fully anticipate getting resistance. I fully anticipate being labeled an hysterical parent. I am prepared. I have the courage of my convictions.
Plus Eamonn said he'd beat anyone up who gave me grief. And so did Amber in Mansfield, Ohio. So I feel like I'm covered.