We've been easing Bud into the transition to first grade slowly. As his Kindergarten year ended, his teacher found opportunities for him to visit his first-grade classroom. His new teacher, Mrs. Parker, created opportunities to interact with him. Over the summer we've started name-dropping the children who will be in his class (which took on even greater significance when we saw Sophie in the grocery store and she gave us the insider scoop on the make-up of first grade classrooms.)
Bud seems to be ready to make the move. He talks about going to first grade, about Mrs. Parker, and about his new classmates, which thankfully include Sophie and Clay, who is returning to our district. He's chosen a new backpack, a new pencil case, and a new water bottle. He knows it's coming and seems happy enough about it.
It seems that the gods of pupil placement have once again smiled upon us, and we are quickly learning that Mrs. Parker is another dream-come-true teacher. She called me last week because she thought it might be a good idea for her to get together briefly with Bud once a week this month to build his comfort and familiarity with her before the school year starts. She'd be leaving soon for a long weekend, she said, but perhaps we could drop by the classroom for a visit? Or she could stop by our house if I thought that might be easier for him. Oh, and while she had me on the phone, she was hoping to get my ideas about how she might be able to create a comfortable corner in the room where Bud could go when he needed a break or needed to be alone for a while. And did I think it would be a good idea to leave some space at the back of the classroom where he could get up and walk around during the activities that had the children seated for long periods of time?
Dream. Come. True.
My hunch was that visiting the classroom would be easier than having Mrs. Parker come to our house, since seeing people out of context can be dysregulating for Bud. So we set up a time, and Bud talked eagerly about the visit. We decided to bring dancing bear with us to show Mrs. Parker our fabulous creation. We were prepared.
But as we drove to the school Bud's anxiety began to build; by the time we got to classroom he had firmly decided that he would not be visiting Mrs. Parker today. I got him into the classroom, but he refused to engage with Mrs. Parker, refused to look at the books on the shelf, refused to look at the calendar she was hanging. He cried real tears, shouted loud shouts, and said he had to go home. We visited for a stress-filled ten minutes. By the end of it, Bud was puffy and blotchy and tear-soaked; I was knotted and tense and sweat-stained. But Mrs. Parker was cool and breezy and upbeat, and acted as though we'd just brought her cupcakes. She cheerfully kept her distance and even seemed sincere when she told us how wonderful it had been to have us visit. She sent us on our way with some pictures of the classroom and her home address, just in case Bud would like to send her a letter in the mail. She even reminded us to come back again next week.
Bud's usual calm demeanor had returned by the time we got home and I transferred him to Nana so that I could return to work for the rest of the day. I kissed him before I left and as he headed up the stairs to play he said, "Thanks, Mom. That was fun."
"It was fun, Bud?" I asked, following him. We sat together on a step halfway up.
"Yes," he said.
"What do you think of Mrs. Parker?"
"I thought she was nice, too. She wants you to visit again next week."
"Do you want to visit again next week?"
I remain in awe of that child.
Today Bud mailed a letter to Mrs. Parker. He composed it on the computer by himself. It says:
Der mis prker
I liek horn moeosik
Iliek read er rabbit
Horn music and Reader Rabbit: I guess now they have something to talk about during the next visit.
But just to be safe... maybe I ought to bring along some actual cupcakes this time.