Today was a busy one that started with a kid’s doctor’s appointment at 8am, and finished with a first day of football practice for the middle child. I’m sure you don’t need to check my laundry list of grocery pickups, library vists, and cleaning ants out of my kitchen pantry- I had bought a box of graham crackers that were apparently filled with the little beasts… So I’ve been cleaning that up.
But anyways, in among all the running arounds that a Monday can bring, we also had our Back to School night. To be honest, my parents didn’t always do these and they didn’t seem all that important to me as a kid. But now as a parent to a child with autism, I can see the importance of them. Oddly enough, we haven’t had the opportunity to be to many. None the less, I figured if my kids are required to bring 3 backpacks full and 2 grocery bags full of school supplies… I might as well bring them tonight so they aren’t lugging them in over the first few days of school.
Once again, back to the point. My quest for this post today is: Why did I have to emotionally unpack after what was kind of a typical back to school night? Maybe because ours really isn’t typical?
Not every family brings in enough school supplies for 3 teachers when they only have two elementary aged school children. But my oldest being autistic is requested of to bring extra things for his home room classroom. And because I have advocated for him to spend most of his day in a typical classroom, he gets to bring a whole other bag full of things for his mainstream teacher as well. Then you add in post covid cleaning supplies requested, and a principal that pretends your family doesn’t exist because I had to call her boss last year… Yeah it can feel like a lot.
The good news is that we were able to bring in Mr. L’s catch up work he did over the summer because he tricked his teacher last year into not teaching him math, English or social studies… That was another post. But he did finish it up with only a few pages to spare. We worked hard over the summer, had fun, (and got a lot of swim time in ;).
Mr. L’s special education teacher was so excited to see that not only had Mr. L completed his work, but I had organized it by unit, subject and had notes on every page. It felt good to show off his hard work and my dedication to his academic success 😅
So why did I feel like crying on the way home? We made it didn’t we? I organized all the stink’n supplies, kept that summer work together, we found all the teachers, we found the new desks, we got the envelope for school lunch, I didn’t lose my crap on little Miss A who was trying to get into all the teacher’s things, we got to see Mr. C’s best friend and his family, and the principal wasn’t rude, she simply pretended we didn’t exist. So why did I feel a little deflated on the way home?
My sweet husband thinks it’s because I’m just so proud of Mr. L’s progress and to an extent I think he’s absolutely right. We have been fighting this fight for his education, his needs, his therapies, and his staff for years and dealing with all the politics and people and it sorta looks like it’s paying off. He has a teacher this year who is excited to see him, he has a regular classroom teacher who already has his name on a desk and I didn’t have to advocate for his seat this year… I mean, I am super proud of my kids and the things they have accomplished so far.
But I think a part of it too is reliving the stress of what a new school year has met so far and what it could potentially mean this year. Will Mr. L have the staff he needs to be safe? Will they naturally include him in the year book or will I have to fight for that? Will he hate lunch time and refuse to eat? Will they help figure out why? Will he know where to go on his first day of school or will he feel lost, overwhelmed and left behind?
People tease that first year parents cry when they drop off their kindergartner for the first time, but any grade after that parents are celebrating after sending their tot off to school. But I’m not sure that will ever apply to me when it comes to my autistic son. I will forever worry about him and fight the urge to park my car to follow him around for the first few days of school until I feel like a new routine has been accepted and implemented. I mean why can’t that be normal?? He doesn’t have the verbal skills to tell me how school is going yet! Hopefully some day soon he will, but today he isn’t there yet and in a few days I’m going to be a stress mess on my couch fighting the urge to sit outside my kid’s school watching for my oldest to slip past new staff who don’t know just how well he can sneak off to do his own thing.
Here’s to a new school year and hopefully special children will be included, wanted, and not left behind or lost 🌹