Last week, Eddie started Kindergarten at a new school, in a new town, with new teachers, new hours, and new classmates. That is way too much “new” for Eddie. His Dad and I dropped him off in his room and we left him completely overstimulated sitting at a table. He was covering his ears and making a sound I can only describe as whimpering. It isn’t quite crying, and a little like whining, but basically he was letting us know he was upset.
This may cause a parent of a typical Kindergartner to linger and make sure their child is OK and that they aren’t going to be emotionally scarred from being abandoned at school. This was not the case for us. Eddie had visited the school previously and had been talked to at length about going to school so this wasn’t like we were dropping him off “cold turkey.”
We made sure he had all he needed, gave his teacher some last minute tips, and then got on out of there. Honestly, hovering would not have improved the situation. With everything being so new to Eddie, we expected this behavior to continue for days and we certainly couldn’t set up camp at school.
As expected, he had a couple rough days last week, but by the afternoon on Friday he was beginning to explore his surroundings. This is usually a good sign. It showed us he had realized that he wasn’t going anywhere and should make himself at home. This is the first year he is attending school full-time so the faster he gets used to the idea the better the year will be for him.
It is pretty hard to have a child like Eddie that you can’t ask, “How was school today?” “How was lunch?” “Did you have fun at recess?” His behavior is our only indicator of how things are going. Sadly, that can be so skewed that it is often unreliable. He could love his teacher and his new school, but if there is a toy that makes a sound he can’t stand he’ll cry all day long. If there is a student whose voice is hard for him to tolerate, there will be repeated tantrums. His own parents have trouble reading his signals, so it must be really hard for the staff at his new school.
There is a steep learning curve when it comes to Eddie and the only choice is to keep climbing up it. Every day Eddie will try to communicate multiple messages and every day his teachers will work on deciphering them. The best part about teaching Eddie is having those moments when you understand each other completely. I don’t get those constantly because I’ve learned his communication methods right along with him. However, his new teachers will get to experience those breakthroughs and triumphs daily. For that, I am totally jealous.