Monday, December 6, 2010

Potato Chips


Today when I went to get Ethan from school, I could tell his teacher, Mrs. Mullin, was stressed. There in the hustle and bustle of the hallway, as I tried to hug Ethan hello and hold onto him so he wouldn't go outside, while other kids and parents rushed by, she proceeded in about 2 minutes to tell me 1) She wants to get Ethan evaluated for physical therapy because of the way he's tripping a lot in class and one foot turns out (which we knew about) and 2) She has to have surgery and will be out of school for most of January.

Sigh. Just when I thought things were calming down and getting on track.

There are positives, I suppose, about the therapy. I've noticed since Ethan was very little that one foot turned out. His doctor basically said wait it out but that there isn't that much that can be done for it. It actually has more to do with the way one of his leg bones turns out rather than his foot. Ethan doesn't fall that much at home, I didn't think. I suppose the fact that the school is making note of this and wants to get him therapy is a good thing. They're paying attention to the little details. But...I can't help but think, "More therapy for my little guy? Will it be just a temporary thing or go on and on and on? How long will he need speech and OT? And is it a good thing if he continues to have it because at least it means he's not just slipping through the cracks?

These are things I might have had long drawn out conversations about with Birth to 3, had they still been here. But instead I'm having rushed conversations in a hallway with a teacher I wish I knew better, except -- eek! -- Christmas vacation is coming, and then she's out for a month.

About her being gone: first of all, I hope she's okay and it's something relatively benign. And I DO feel bad for her. I can see how much she loves the kids and of course knows that out of all of the kids out there, the ones who are going to have the hardest time with their teacher being away for a month are kids on the autism spectrum. Kids used to routine and familiarity, who take time to warm up to new people, kids who she knows intimately. Besides Ethan she has two new kids coming in this week alone. These things just happen, and it's unfortunate.

If I can stop being so sentimental and become more rational (this is when talking to Dan is extremely helpful, he who has been jokingly called "Mr. Spock) I can tell myself that Ethan is actually a fairly adaptable kid. He doesn't get thrown off by changes in routine or new people nearly as much as some kids on the spectrum. He will be okay. His therapists haven't been here for almost two weeks now and his world isn't crashing down on him.

But...still. This is preschool. This is a big transition, and this is Mrs. Mullin, who he already looks for every morning when we walk up to the front door. And what's a little frustrating is that I don't know how much to explain to him sometimes, or how much he understands. I'm thinking of telling him after Christmas that Mrs. Mullin went on a long trip, but she'll be back. He doesn't seem to have much of a concept of time. We're still working on holidays/seasons, and helping him to realize that different things happen each year and each month. Telling him Mrs. Mullin's going to be out sick for a month is going to mean nothing.

Again though, he's a happy-go-lucky kid, for the most part. Several times last week when he would have had therapy appointments he's stood on the stairs and announced, "Jessica gone! Go to school now." He wasn't crying. He wasn't upset. He was just kind of repeating what I had told him and trying to work it all out. I was the one who started gushing, "Yes she's gone, but she's love you very much, and maybe you can visit with her sometime," blah, blah, blah, while he moved onto something else.

I have this sentimentality gene that at times I'd like to lend to someone else. I believe I inherited it from my grandmother, who my mom said once cried secretly for a few days because she thought my mom hadn't invited her to her tupperware party. Once when I was about six my dad left me a little baggie of chips for my lunch before I woke up, with a note that said, "Have a good day at school today! Love, Dad." When I found out school was canceled due to a snow day and I wouldn't be able to eat the chips my dad had left for my lunch, I cried. Yes. Cried. He'd wanted me to have them for school. And school was canceled but he hadn't known that. I just felt bad his intentions had been thwarted. To this day Dan and I joke about the story. If either of us feel bad about, say, someone throwing a party and no one showing up, we'll say "Oh no -- potato chips!"

Having the potato chips mentality is not going to serve me well, these days. I can't afford sentimentality right now, as I learn how to be confident in myself and my boy without people constantly around to reassure me. I need to put a little more armor around my emotions, or what am I going to do when Ethan's older, if someone makes fun of him or if he's having a hard time? If he really does struggle with saying goodbye to different teachers or people in his life? Someone's got to be the strong one, and it shouldn't be him.

But for now, I don't even need to go that far. He will be okay. Some physical therapy isn't going to ruin him and may very well help him. And he'll learn to deal with a change of staff for awhile in his classroom. It won't be the last time. It most certainly will not.

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