Just five months from now, Ethan will graduate from playgroup age when he officially begins full-day kindergarten (sniff! sniff!).
Our playgroup experience started out quite rough. That first day I brought him to Ms. B's playgroup, an ABA therapist in tow, it was really just to prep him for starting school in a few months. I had to drag him in the door. He hated it. I was drenched in sweat by the end, built up from the stress of attempting to prevent an all-out meltdown. Over the next several weeks Ms. B. was endlessly patient and kind, always doing just the right thing to include Ethan without overwhelming him.
When Ethan started school, he was no longer available to attend Ms. B.'s playgroup since he was in class, but her room was just down the hall from his classroom. We often walked by and peeked in to say a quick hello.
Last year, with Ethan switching to afternoon pre-K, we branched out and tested the waters at several other town playgroups. Some were fun and others not so much. Some had their "mom cliques" already formed and it was tough to break through. At each one, Ethan did not transform and become Mr. Extrovert, but he did learn to adjust, enjoy himself in his own way, and not hide out in the hallways or smush himself against the floor with stress the way he did those first few times.
This year they've restructured the town's schools and we no longer see Ms. B. I'd heard she ran the playgroup at a nearby school on Friday mornings, one we don't usually attend due to other commitments. We decided to drop in today.
It was probably the worst of all the days to "drop in." Ms. B. had planned an Easter egg hunt and most of the parents who are regulars to the group had forgotten to bring in plastic eggs to help out -- never mind me just showing up with Ethan. The room was chaotic as people kept going in and out -- apparently some dentists were setting up a "mobile dental lab" for kids in the school for later in the day. Ms. B. seem uncharacteristically distracted, and Ethan responded to all of this by sitting down at the bead "roller coaster" toy and getting a little lost in his own world.
Then circle time came. We all sat down on the rug, and then Ms. B. started singing her song, the one I'd forgotten she starts every playgroup with, the one that goes
Give a little clap, clap, clap
And suddenly as we were singing and doing the hand motions we were no longer here in this school in the almost spring-time, but back at the other school on a dreary fall day as I begged Ethan to inch closer to the circle of kids sitting on the floor. There in a rush were my fears and frustrations and stresses and the thought of the Great Big Unknown which was school, starting for him in just a few months, and how would he ever cope?