29 July, 2009

Only Want to Say It Once.

I think the visit to the WunderSkool for Jake went very very badly. He was agitated and uncooperative and hesitant and untrusting for half of the time we were there.

He seemed really excited as we drove there, used lots of happy sounds as we entered the office... then poof, basically non-compliant, "very busy" and unable to even go into the classroom or walk. I left to go to the staff room so he could be observed without me around. The director came to me not too many minutes later, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we really don't seem to be able to get him grounded." and suggested that maybe we see him another time. I got tears in my eyes. Then I pulled it together, and asked if perhaps I could go to help him transition. She was very kind and said that she is always surprised when children go willingly and comply with all of the demands of strangers, and that perhaps Jake's response was actually more "typical". As I gathered my things to walk back to his test classroom, the director said she wanted to see more of the child that I wrote about in my notes to her, and perhaps that would give them a better idea about Jake.

I sort of let it slip out that I have very reasonable expectations that nothing good is ever going to happen for our family.

By the time I began to walk towards the class Jake was actually calming down, walking in the hall with a teacher/aide. I took his hand and we walked nicely to the classroom where I asked if we could work on the computer. The computer is something he loves, and they have spent very little time on them in his current class. I was hoping he would not be reminded of anything negative, after his rotten summer school experience. He sat attentively in the chair next to me. He signed for more when I asked him if he wanted more music. He touched the mouse when I asked him to touch it if he wanted a new music piece. When the Nutcracker Ballet started playing he started to get up... his sister has a little device that plays this if she picks it up, so recently he's heard that one A LOT. I chose another song for him and he watched the animation on the screen while the music played.

Then we "read" a book. Chika Chika Boom Boom (they couldn't find Jake's favorite book I hate Brown Bear, Brown Bear, but it was close enough). I read aloud, and at the end of each page I chose a letter and asked him which side of the page the letter was on (remember the letters are all jumbled up on each page?). He got every one right! On the last page I asked Jake where the letters were and he touched his palm down spanning both pages and laughed.

Another child near us started to cry. I asked for "happy" and "sad" icons, and asked him how the other boy was feeling. He chose sad, then looked sideways at the child.

I asked for "book" and "music" icons, and asked him which one he wanted to do next. He chose music, then picked up a tambourine and shook it when the music came on. One of the aides asked if he would like to look around the classroom (Jake said "Yauh") Then he walked over to one of the tall cubicles and I asked him if he wanted to do some work like the other kids. I sat him down in the child's chair, and sat in the teacher's chair. In front of us were little pretend pieces of watermelon with numbers written on them (laminate cards). I placed two "slices" in front of him at a time, and went through all of the numbers 1-10,asking him to choose "Which one is number __?" He got them all correct. What was nice is that for one of his responses he sort of flicked the number three card towards me, and one of the aides laughed and said "Duh mom. I'm done with this project." They actually understood Jake's subtle communication is actually real communication with intent.

We moved next to puzzles, and I gave up my seat to one of the aides. They worked on three- piece, large-knob puzzles which Jake has done a million times. I told him, even if he couldn't get the piece into the space, if he picked up a piece and showed us where it went that would count too. He did this twice, but otherwise he actually, eventually, placed all of the pieces into their actual spaces without much help at all. The aide was so patient, and when he got the last one in she asked for a high five, and Jake complied...with two/five.

Our visit came to a close, a full 40 minutes late (perhaps that's how long they had tried to calm him down?) I told him we were going to go home, then walked into the office. Of course he had heard "home", but had not been told "Sit in crowded office while my mom chats with the director", so he was flailing and stretched himself out across the office floor. He did however lean in to hug the director and both of the classroom teachers with whom he had worked. When I stood to leave he ran to the door of the office and waited, then walked calmly out to the car.

I came home, wrote the thank you email, and then as I hit send, got a call from Jake's school district, who assured me that she was certain that Jake's visit had gone well, despite my story of our visit.

I don't know when we'll hear back. The pit of my stomach is awash in acid, and life goes on: Jake goes to Camp Awesomeness for a week, then our local district begins on Monday the 10th. I am still trying to decide where to throw thousands of dollars towards Lucy's preschool education, and one of the schools on our short list starts July 31st, and the other has a wait list? Perhaps January (our original plan) may be a better plan.

I just asked Jake if he liked "that school". He said, "Yuh."

It will all be okay or it won't.

*******************
after talking with Sage and Squid, maybe it's possible that the visit didn't go as badly as I think it did, and Jake was able to show them all of who he is, good and bad.
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