I had to take some time before I wrote this blog but here it is…….
As we walk on this journey with Samuel it can be very exciting, rewarding, confusing, and exhausting all wrapped into one. Many of you know, that he has been homeschooled up until this point. Samuel has come to the point where he is ready to enter into a school setting to be around a great group of peers and teachers. Looking at all of the options that are out there can be confusing and exhausting! Shifting through websites, recommendations from friends, etc…. is a bit overwhelming.
After researching schools, the perfect one was found. I visited the school with Samuel’s language therapist to get a really good feel for how it was being run. I wanted to make sure that it would be a great fit for him. When we arrived for the meeting, they were running late. I thought this is not a good sign. The Headmaster came out and apologized for being late. He said he was trying to help a student deal with some things that he was struggling with. I thought well this means he cares for the students first and that is KEY! As we sat in the Headmaster’s office listening to him talk about the school and how great the teachers and students were, I was pleasantly surprised. I thought that this would be a great place to look at for Samuel. We toured the school and the kids were very friendly. You could see them smiling as we were peaking in on some of the classes.
The decision was made to let Samuel come and visit the school for 4 days. For Samuel, the unknown can be very frightening. We told him about the new school he was going to visit and about the wonderful kids as well as teachers. We brought him on a Friday to see the school before he went the next week. As we walked around, he was touching the walls and talking about the planets whenever he saw one in the classrooms. I think he was processing this new place and looking to me to make sure I was okay with it. As we talked about the school on the way home, he said “H” was a nice school. I was being very positive about the school and trying not to let my hesitation enter into the picture. This world is a cruel place and I want to make sure that he is shielded from that as much as possible especially in the beginning as he enters a school setting. The school specializes in children with learning differences, so I thought that it would be a very welcoming place for Samuel.
The first day arrived and he was nervous about going. Samuel was having a rough start to the morning as we began to get ready. He kept saying he didn’t want to go to “H” and that his brain was broken. I knew that this was just the anxiety talking. We left the house and talked about it on the way to school. He seemed okay as we began approaching the street to the school. Samuel saw other children getting out of their cars and going inside. He started talking about the big kids and how he was going to go to school with them. As we entered into the school, the children were very welcoming to him. They asked his name and how old he was. They smiled and talked to him and tried to be his helper right off the back. As I stood back and watched him, my heart was beating so fast…… I told myself just breathe and take the chance. We have had to take so many chances with the unknowns that I am learning to start to trust a bit…..
I sat in the class but over to the side. He followed everyone else and sat down. He was talking to the children and teacher about the planets. He was rattling off all the facts that he know about them. It was a sweet moment because I thought this must be how mothers feel as they drop off their kindergarten to school. Yet, we are doing this at 2nd grade….. I was so proud of him! He wasn’t responding to every question but he was trying to, as he was processing everything and everyone around him. I stayed for a few hours to observe. When he was prompted by the teacher he read a paragraph. By the look on her face, I knew she was surprised he could read….. I thought to myself why is she surprised….
I left to go to the office to drop off some paperwork that I had filled out and Samuel stayed in class. I told him I would be back in a bit and he went back to his desk. When I dropped off the paperwork the secretary said why don’t you go to the coffee shop and come back in an hour after lunch is over for him. She was so sweet she gave me her cell phone number and said to call or text and she would update me on him. As I walked out of that school I thought, you need to trust sometime and this is a great place! I sat at the coffee shop trying to work on my laptop but my mind was wondering how he was doing. I texted the secretary and she called me and said he was doing GREAT and she just saw him walking to eat lunch with the other children with a smile on his face. You see the school has very small classes and the teachers are trained to help children with learning differences. My heart was relieved………
I went back to get Samuel and he was eating lunch with everyone else. He seemed to be doing fine and liking it. The teacher and I sat there talking and this is when well my heart was shattered into millions of pieces…..Everything she said was all the things he couldn’t do. As I sat there, my heart was crushed to think that all she sees is his “label”. She asked if he could even wipe himself if he went to the bathroom. I said yes he can and she said well I just want to make sure. Then she told me all about children with language disorders and what could be done for him. She wasn’t sure she could do it because he was really severe (in her opinion). I just sat there angry, disappointed, and crushed……
We ended up meeting with the Headmaster and he told the teacher that Samuel just needed to learn the social things. Also, it was his first day at school and he need to learn the routine. I felt better after we left the room and headed home. I asked Samuel what he thought of “H” and he said “The kids were nice and not rough!” He asked about going back the next day and I said sure. Well day two came and he was up and dressed without any problems. I was set to stay just for a few hours this day but when I arrived the teacher said “Samuel, tell your mother goodbye and you will see her later.” I thought she has got to be KIDDING ME! As I sat in the back and observed the second day, it was much harder. Ms “X” had a preconceived idea in her head about him. Samuel tried to engage in conversation with her about the planets he brought and she dismissed it for the most part. Then she assigned a student to “help” him since in her words “he needs someone to stand next to him until he gets it”……At that moment, you could see Samuel’s perception of things begin to change…. I ended up leaving and coming back at the end of the day for him. My heart was saying take him and run but I let him stay…..
When I picked him up from school he had a folder with his name on it like the other children. Inside was paperwork from Ms. “X” telling me everything he couldn’t do or didn’t do. Not one positive thing from her……After speaking with the other teacher ,who he would have for only a few hours, she said he did great and told me positive things about him. On the way home I asked him how he liked the children and teachers. He said he liked the kids. I asked about the teachers and he said, “I do not like Ms X, she does not talk to me.” My heart was was so broken for him. My sweet boy that Ms X thought “doesn’t get it” just got the fact that she doesn’t want to talk with him and doesn’t think he will get it….. I knew this wasn’t going to be a good fit! Everything was so great except the teacher he would spend most of his time with….All this to say, Ms “X” said she couldn’t teach him even though the other teacher thought he was a great fit…….
So I will end with this:
“I’m thankful to all of those who said “NO” because of them, I did it myself.” ~Albert Einstein
And I just watched the movie “Rudy” last night. Very inspirational and one day we will find a teacher that will be saying “Samuel, Samuel, Samuel” just like they chanted for Rudy on that football field……He will amaze people and prove that the underdog can win!