Thursday, August 28, 2014

Aaaand, They're Back school, that is.

Anna's adjusting to the joy of having math and trying to master opening the lock on her first-ever locker. She's playing with dolls one minute and talking to her friend on the phone about boys the next, so we've entered this strange netherworld of not quite a child/not yet an adult. I personally wouldn't care if she played with dolls until she's 15, but somehow I'm doubting that's going to happen.

And Ethan? Well, the jury's definitely still out on Ethan and how this school year will go. Kindergarten, I have to say, was a cake walk. First grade, we're asking more of him. More homework. A classroom without his good buddies he's known for years. A bus ride in the afternoon.

I'm trying not to worry and to give him time to adjust. This is easier said than done.

His teacher is fabulous. So far she's been attentive and sensitive to the fact that he might be more sensitive to certain things, like his bus being one of the few buses to show up late on the first day. She's done a little extra to make him feel comfortable and to pair him up with other kids. She gladly accepted my long rambling email giving her background on Ethan that might be useful. She's going to warn him about the fire drills (the prospect of one has him terrified once again this year).

She is his teacher, though. She can't make him make friends. That part's up to him.

Here's the thing about friends. In the past, aside from his few very close buddies, he didn't let on that he needed them. If everyone in the class was playing and he was on his own reading a book, no problem. If everyone on the playground was doing tag and he wanted to conquer the monkey bars yet again, that was fine by him. Interaction seemed to be an afterthought.

Now, this year, I wonder.

I asked him about the bus, if he sat with the girl from class the teacher had mentioned. "No, she sat with someone else," he said sadly. "I had no one to talk to." Yet on Day 2, he said they sat together, but didn't talk "because I was too busy looking out the window."

And in class? "I didn't make any friends," he told me, although his teacher clarified that everyone worked on making friends the first day.

He told me he played on the playground alone (at the monkey bars, once again). He didn't seem exactly upset about this; yet still came across as slightly troubled.

He got home from school the other day and walked straight into the neighbor's house (we need to work on this) to tell "Mr. John" he was home so that if he wanted to play whiffle ball, he would know. He got two cookies for a snack in the process.

We seem to be slowly making this shift between wanting to always be preferring to be with people more valuing the company of kids as well as adults more often than not. It's been very slow. And I know it may be painful. This is always the challenge: to rejoice at his wanting to connect with others, while simultaneously knowing that greater longing for connection could lead to misunderstanding when he doesn't connect in quite the typical way.

We're only on Day 3. Anything can happen. I'm just trying to keep my ears tuned, head clear, and heart steady, so I can help him the best way I possibly can, for the next 177 days, and well beyond.

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