Even in our autism daze we managed to get excited. Even as I pre-packaged endless snack ziploc bags with gfcf pretzels and cookies. Even as I packed the pull ups. Even as I wrote a zillion of post it -how to- notes for his new teachers. Finally, even as I typed a All About report on my son for his teacher including a section on gfcf diet and why he had to follow it. After all of that, I was still a little giddy that my baby was going to Kindergarten. Oh yes, that bubble burst really quick.
We woke up on time, got everyone ready, camera charged and we are ready to go.
Actually, wait let me rewind.
On the Friday before the first day of school was his orientation. Everyone was all smiles on our way to school to meet his new teacher, classroom and students. We arrive and even find parking right away. Imagine that! We go to the cafeteria as told and wait for the "orientation" to begin. I never did receive my letter stating where I had to go and when I called I was told to just go to the cafeteria where all would be explained. In a haze of pta bulletins, uniform tables and others we made our way through. It was now 5 to 10am and nothing. Finally someone walks up to the mic and announces that we should all be in our classrooms or we were about the miss our orientation. Hmmm, that's odd. I ask the woman on the mic where we were supposed to be. She replies that I was supposed to go to the front office for that.
This is where it becomes fun. My child is now upset that we have been in the cafeteria this long and he doesn't even understand what he is doing there to begin with. I walk him out and decide to stroll on campus while I send my husband to the front office to find out. While "strolling" we run into his pre-k teacher assistant from last year. My son got very excited and left me standing there and held her hand. Now I understood. He thought he was going to school like he did a couple of months ago. She insisted we went by to say hello to the pre-k teacher and rather than decline because then he would be convinced that yes, he was going to class, I did as she asked. He was very excited. Ran and gave the teacher a big hug and said "Bye bye mommy" like he use to last semester.
I began to worry that my husband was looking for me to make that joyous walk to the Kindergarten class so I excused us and attempted to leave. My son was not having it. He refused to leave and was choosing the large bean bag and book he now had found over leaving. Go figure! His teacher offered to walk out with us or else he would still be there. Sigh.
As I am walking my husband sticks out his head and announces " He is not even registered. They can't find him -in the system" . Oh dear. I take a deep breath and walk over to him. His pre-k teacher tells them the name of the teacher he is supposed to have for Kindergarten and they scramble some. "Oh, he has Mrs. Thompson?" No, I reply, that is his prek teacher. You know, the one standing next to me right now. " Oh, so he is getting mainstreamed". Are you kidding me? Are you really deciding my son's placement right now in 5 minutes because you can't find his paperwork and after months of red tape and IEP meetings? I am sure they saw the smoke coming out of my ears.
I decide to walk out and let my husband duke it out and take him to where I was told he should be at. The teacher seems clueless and has no idea who my son is and why we have invaded her class. My son, in all of this, is upset his prek teacher left and probably thinks we are insane in all of this. Perhaps he is right. I explain to her briefly what has happened and she listens as my son walks all over the room, turns the tv on (why is there even a tv with a Barney tape in here), touches all of the computer buttons available and scrambles all over the place. Deep breath. When she is done talking to another set of parents I re-introduce myself and hand her my All About report on my son and briefly tell her about him.
My husband walks in with the head of the ESE who apologizes and confirms we are in the right place. He joins me in what seems like a lost cause. The teacher says we don't need anything for Monday and to just show up. She is nice but not sure if that will get anything done or how much autism experience she has but I think not much.
We also find out that this is a combined Kindergarten and 1st grade class. Most of the kids in there are quite verbal unlike my son.
I leave and after the most stressful 30 minutes I have had in a while I burst into tears on the way to the car. Why is everything autism so hard?
It is now Monday morning and yes, after all of that, we are still excited. What is that saying? Gluton for punishment? yeah, that.
There are no parking spots available. We hop out of the car with all the bags in tow and walk to the meeting place;the cafeteria. Wouldn't you know it, the meeting place is literally next to his old pre-k class which causes a lot of excitement for my son at first and then a complete breakdown when they leave without him. My poor baby. I attempt to explain what is going on and he was not having it. He was very upset about not joining his old class. The new teacher announces "ok, let's go!" She holds 2 of the kids hands and walks. And walks, And walks without ONCE looking back to confirm the rest of the kids and parents are following. Had I followed instructions, I would have dropped him off and my son would have run off to find his old pre-k class and she would have probably had no idea! Must have been overwhelmed this being the first day and all but with these kids all it takes is a second!
I walk in to find a semicircular table and the teacher extremely overwhelmed attempting to get them all seated. She hands him a purple name tag and asks him to match it to the chair with the same name and color. Really? that's all it takes? I have to ask? Of course not. He took the tag and wandered around the room like I knew he good clueless as to what was being said. I fought the urge to go help him do it because part of me was testing them to see how they would handle it. She didn't. The assistant didn't. No one did.
I walked over and helped him find his seat. He stayed but not happily.
I said goodbye and peeked through the door as he sat there lost in his own world. What was he thinking, I thought?
Walked back to the car feeling scared. Do I sit in the parking lot in case he runs off and she doesn't notice? I was glad he wore a cherry red shirt. I was hopeful he would stand out and they would notice if he was not in sight. Was he going to learn anything today?
Where was this Kindergarten rollercoaster going to go next? up or down?