Friday was the Menininho’s first day of kindergarten. I’m not one of those moms who gets emotional about her kids going off to school. I mean, I started sending M alone to autism preschool when he was 20 months old. Going off to kindergarten doesn’t feel new, just longer (all-day instead of half-day).
But, it’s a big change for M. It means leaving the classroom and teachers he’s had for 3 school years. It means a full day. It means many more kids in his class, and the removal of some supports.
I’ve stressed over it. Like any parent, I want him to be successful. Like any special needs parent, I understand the road can be harder for my son than for others, and that there are many factors that can affect his opportunities to be successful.
So, I met with his school team, and his private therapists. We set up a plan. I used social stories and a classroom visit to get the Menininho ready. And then? We had to jump in with both feet.
M was late coming home from school. I knew the bus had gotten lost. M. hates this bus (seriously: one of the first things he told his new teacher was how much he hates this bus. He didn’t care that there would be a new driver this year.). I was a little worried how he’d handle his missed stop.
He bounded off the bus a few minutes later, telling me that he’d informed the bus driver that she’d missed his house, then gave her his address and how to get there.
Let’s analyze this for a moment. My son, on his first day of a new schedule, new class, new classmates, ad slightly new bus route, recognized that his home was missed, then felt comfortable enough telling his new driver that she’d made a mistake. Then, he remembered where he lived. AND, on top of all of this, when I asked if he was upset, he insisted “no, it was kind of fun to see where people lived!”
6 months ago, this wouldn’t have happened. Heck, 3 months ago this wouldn’t have happened.
But wait! There’s more!
When a classmate made fun of him for his My Little Ponies backpack (a scenario he’d been worried about), saying “That’s a girls’ show and a girls’ backpack!” M calmly replied, “Well, my brother and I like it!” and that was that! He also reported sitting alone at lunch, but what was awesome about this is that he was able to explain why he sat alone: he didn’t know how to talk to a group of kids, with multiple conversations going on at once. Finally, M was open to calling his grandmothers and aunt to tell them all about his day, something that can be challenging for him.
So, while the leaving for kindergarten didn’t get me emotional, the coming home brought a little tear to my eye. Some days it’s still hard to wrap my head around the progress the Menininho has made in the last 4 years since his diagnosis, when the doctor told us he wasn’t sure if M would talk. I think back to the strides he’s made just over the past year, and it’s a little overwhelming. I’m grateful, I’m so proud of him, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this school year holds for him.