I'm not going to tell you about our tantrum-filled weekend with new records set for screeching and duration or my impatience with the slow processing or, for that matter, that just after I posted last we got lice (yes, me too) but that I still managed, thanks to my amazing inlaws, to get away to a fantastic writer's retreat with Kate Hopper and then when I got back Ruby got a stomach bug and now my hands are cracked and bleeding from over-washing and sanitizing and I'm still not letting anyone use the bathroom Ruby is using. Nope, someday I'll tell you about all that, maybe, but for now I'm taking a class that is going to help me recognize and enjoy some of the small pleasures in my life rather than always fearing the next tragedy (today's back to back pre-dawn earthquakes did not help) or always focusing on what needs to get done or be fixed. And so I'm going to tell you this instead:
Last Friday, like every weekday at a minute or so past three, I punched in the five digit code on the school's keypad, yanked down on the handle and pulled open the heavy gate. Parents had already gathered loosely to chat and wait for their children to appear. The younger kids often stand at the top of the schoolyard with a teacher and then come bounding down the slightly inclined blacktop when their parent appears. The older kids walk a little more slowly, self-conscious pre-teens already, and slide up next to their parents rather than rushing into their arms. Ruby does neither -- she marches or skips confidently towards me and, as she nears, bellows out a request for a playdate with one friend or another. She balks when I say no, and pushes her flowered lunchbox, her purple fuzzy jacket and her backback into my arms before disappearing once again to climb on the bike rack or giggle with a friend.
Oscar always arrives several minutes later, slowly descending the steps one at a time from the upper classrooms with the other stragglers from the 4th and 5th grades. He peers down at the crowd from under the hood of his brown fleece jacket. It takes him a while to process the scene, to find me in the crowd, but his face lights up when he does. He always has something to report and starts talking without introducing the topic first so that I spend the first few seconds trying to guess what he's referring to. Or he'll forget to notice that I'm already speaking to someone, usually his teacher or aide, and start his story anyway.
On Friday though, Ruby stayed home sick so I was standing alone at the bottom of the steps when Oscar appeared. His backpack was slung over his right shoulder and in his left he clutched a red three-ring binder containing the script of the play his 5th grade class will perform in May. With a huge smile he reported that they had just had their first blocking rehearsal. He and his classmates moved around on a makeshift stage and delivered their lines for the first time. To my surprise he was beaming. He was excited.
It doesn't get old....this reveling in things Oscar can do, in things Oscar wants to do. Things that years ago I'd never imagined possible.
These past couple of days I've been listening to the recording of December's triennial IEP so that I can be sure to get all the nuggets of brilliance included in the IEP document notes. Yesterday I heard his private OT and his neuropsychologist sum it all up beautifully -- because the space-time demands are fewer at his school and because structure and calm are embedded into the environment and because he has excellent food security and because he has formed caring relationships with his peers and teachers, and because his teachers have the patience and training and flexibility to meet his needs, his progress in the five or so years that each has known him is nothing short of astounding. His OT said that he is one of the most earnest kids she has ever worked with, and that if Oscar is withdrawing from an activity then you immediately have to look at the sensory demands being placed on him. After all, said the neurospychologist, he is the kid who begged his math teacher to teach him to multiply big numbers. (She did.) After all, chimed in the OT, he is the kid that insisted on learning to touch type with proper finger placement, not just two fingers. (He does.*)
And now the kid who five years ago sat in the lap of his kindergarten teacher sobbing with his hands covering his ears whenever there was clapping, the kid who refused to join his class in singing a song at an all-school community meeting, the kid who hid under the table whenever a challenging task was presented, is excited to perform in a play in front of the entire school and their parents and grandparents and friends. He's excited to learn his lines and remember where to be on stage. He's bounce-all-the-way-to-the-car-and-talk-about-the-play-the-whole-way-home excited.
Nope, this reveling in all he can do, in all that his wonderful school has supported him in doing for nearly six years now, will never get old.
*(We just got his Certificate of Completion from the Mavis Beacon typing program. Accuracy -- 96%. Words per minute -- 4. I love it.)