Wednesday, August 22, 2012
It's hard growing up
So last week Ella attended K-Prep at her new elementary school. For those of you who don’t live in the City of Alexandria, K-Prep is basically practice kindergarten. It’s just the kindergarteners in the school and they are only there for a half day. This gives them the opportunity to get to know the school without all of the other students running around. It also gives kids who have never attended preschool, an idea of what school is really like.
Going into the week I knew things were going to be rough. Ella does not like new “adventures” and now she was going to be experiencing something completely new…new school, new teacher, new friends (only 1 little boy from her preschool is at the school and they are in different classes), and a new aide.
Monday morning was rough. Joe and I did go into Ella’s class and talk with the kids about Ella’s boo boos. They just listened and didn’t have any questions. Ella cried when we left, but I could tell she was really trying to be brave. I left for 30 minutes to drive Joe to work, and soon I got a call asking me to come back to the school. I spent the rest of my day sitting in the hallway…except for the 5 minutes that I ran to the office to ask a question. When I came back from the office Ella and her helper (not her permanent aide, but a nice teacher that was helping her for the day) were sitting in the hallway and Ella was hysterically crying. A little boy had accidentally stepped on her toe. Ella was a complete mess! I comforted her, looked at her foot, and encouraged her to go back into class. The rest of the time I sat in the hallway right outside her room. When the rest of the kids went to lunch I picked Ella up and we went out for a special lunch.
Tuesday was a complete disaster! In a nutshell, Ella started crying the second she woke up and cried all morning. This made me frustrated, so I started crying too. Poor Joe had to do all he could to keep us both together. Ultimately Joe spent the day working from his blackberry while sitting in the hallway of the school, I came home a complete mess, and Ella stayed in class and every 5 minutes her helper would come out to make sure Joe was still there.
Wednesday I was on my own. There was a new helper for Ella that day, so I dropped Ella off in the morning and sat in the hallway until recess (around 10:30). When the kids came in from recess I headed home. Ella still cried and was a mess, but I knew I couldn't spend another day sitting in the hallway and she needed to try and do this on her own.
Thursday and Friday I did the cut and run…take her to the cafeteria (where she gets dropped off), hug and kiss Ella, reassure her that I love her more than anything and am so proud of how brave she is, then walk out the door. I can’t spend my entire days in the hallway, and it’s not healthy for Ella if I do that. She still cried a lot and clung to me as hard as she could, but both days when I picked her up she had a huge smile on her face. She was so proud of herself for going to school and making it through the whole day without me. The two ladies that were her helpers were terrific! They were very understanding and helped Ella cope the best they could. According to the second helper (Wed-Fri), Ella stopped crying within minutes of me leaving, and she was fine all day. She didn’t ask where I was or say that she needed me. That’s good news.
I’d be lying if I didn’t question whether or not Ella is ready for this. I know academically she is more than ready, but I don’t want to do permanent emotional damage by forcing her to go to school when she’s not ready. On the flip side, I don’t want to do permanent damage by not having her try new things, even things that seem scary. It would be extremely easy for me to shelter her forever, but I don’t want Ella to be 35 and still living at home because she’s scared of moving out of the house.
I had to keep reminding myself that this was just the first week. Hopefully when she meets her permanent aide, and starts to feel more comfortable with her new surroundings, then she’ll start coping better. If things haven’t improved by December, we may have to reevaluate our situation.
The good news is that while I was sitting in the hallway I heard the teacher call on Ella to answer a question. Ella answered with confidence. She still refuses to raise her hand in class, but at least when she’s called on she’ll give an answer.
All of this to say, please pray for Ella (and her parents) during this transition. School starts September 4th and my plan is to not leave the house for the first few weeks. We only live 2 blocks from the school and Ella knows that it takes just 1 minute for me to get there if something were to happen. Please just pray for peace and that her anxiety will diminish. Thanks.