Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The First Day

There was a time, not all that long ago, where I peeled myself away from Jake and made for my car on the first day of school. I had left a child huddled in a chair, coat over his head, crying because he didn't want to be there. A child who was so anxious about school that I could hear his screams in the middle of the night from the nightmares.

I sat in my car, and I cried. What mother wants to leave her child in a place where they feel so inadequate, so unloved, so stupid?

I hated school. I hated first days. I hated everything about it. The teachers, some of whom would tell me "Oh, I have a friend with learning disabilities, I understand", but who obviously didn't. The kids, some of whom would leave rotten fruit in his backpack, bully him, and call him names. The classes, which seemed to only frustrate him to the point of tears. The IEP meetings, where I'd felt that everything I said fell on completely deaf ears.

This was coming from a parent who, as a child, adored school. Who worked in schools. And who bit by bit, year by year, slowly had every bit of love about school chipped away. I even considered changing my profession.

As I sat in my car with tears streaming down my face, I wished all at once that we could just have a normal school year. A year where I could just drop him off and he'd take off with friends. A year where he'd have a good IEP and that people would see how capable he is, if you allow some minor adaptations. A year where he would actually WANT to be there.

That day seems so long ago. That year, despite the anxious start, had turned out to be the best year Jake ever had. It was as if someone had heard my desperate plea and answered in the form of not one, but a team of angels that just swooped in and turned things around for us in the nick of time.

I cried at the first IEP meeting. I couldn't believe that they were listening to us.

I cried at the first parent teacher meeting. I was in awe of Jake's teachers-they seemed too amazing to be true.

We cried the next school year, when two of those people actually became angels for real.

Today was Jake's first day of grade seven. There was no behavior, no anxiety, no yelling that he didn't want to go to school and hiding under a coat. He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and sauntered away confidently towards the school.

"Don't worry about me, Mom, I'm good," he called, "This year is going to be AWESOME!"

Yep. I cried today too.

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