“K-8 Learn, Excel and Create” -our school slogan
Well the countdown to the first day of school was here! Uniforms were ordered and had arrived. (OMG they were so tiny and cute..LOL) I’d been to Walmart with my school supply list and looked around with a dozen or so other parents as we picked out crayons, a nap mat, glue sticks, a new backpack and a Paw Patrol lunch bag…oh and a matching water thermos of course. If you know me you know I hate to shop so once the thrill of “first time school shopping” subsided I went home and ordered the rest from Target online. It was all happening and happening quickly.
SCHOOL was the word of the day every day around the house in an attempt to get Caleb prepared. “This is for when you start school.” or “You need a new backpack for big boy School.” He even wanted to wear his backpack in the house, which was a big deal, wearing anything other than the necessary clothing was a big deal. Remember we were a hat, scarf, coat, sunglasses, pants(in the house), book bag free zone!
Since our communication has improved it was important that I prepared him and gave him information so that he could process. Even if it seemed like he didn’t understand, I’ve learned that he does. However, because we’ve been calling ABA “school” I was afraid he’d be confused and angry the morning of when he realized we weren’t turning “that way!” to go to ABA and instead going someplace new. My biggest fear was that we’d have a first day of school meltdown before we even got there and possibly another when I left him with these strangers. UGH! #SuperMomFail #MomAnxiety #Jesusbeafence
Anyway, as I tried to remain cool, I made my way to new parent orientation two days before school started. Children weren’t allowed to come so I could manage my anxiety in peace and not worry about his. The principal and assistant principal spoke about the grounds, uniforms, schedules and the school STEM program which was all good to know if this would be Caleb’s school for years to come. I was feeling good, I was making peace with leaving my child with these people and then a slide came up on the presentation that said “SCHOOL SAFETY!” and just like that the tone changed.
The principal went on to talk about how the climate of our country has impacted the access that we would have to our children during the school day. Due to school shootings and the need to keep our babies safe after the first week parents wouldn’t be allowed to walk their child to their class without going through the office, signing in and getting a visitors badge. ALL parents would need to drop their kid off in the drop off-line around the back.
“I’m sorry? Say what now?? That’s fine for everybody else’s kid but my baby is 3!! Who is going to get him to class? He won’t go with strangers. There must be an exception for pre-k.” My mind was racing and in that instant I thought maybe Gemma was right! Maybe it’s too soon for him to start school. Maybe we should home school. Who needs school anyway!
Once the orientation was over we split up by class and got to go meet our teachers and see the actual classrooms. Miss M must’ve seen the terror on all of our faces because we couldn’t sit down fast enough before she told us that the drop off-line would NOT be for our little ones. Pre-k parents WOULD continue to walk our babies directly to their class and at the end of the day, the whole class would be waiting in the office for pick up. Door to door service as expected. “Thank God!” We all sighed with relief and I actually told her out load how she probably wouldn’t have been seeing Caleb if we had to drop him off like the rest of the school. LOL
Once that was clarified I went back to feeling great about Caleb’s Pre-k experience. The classroom was super cute, well-organized, colorful and Miss M was as bubbly as the people on Sesame Street. I had heard about her and everything was positive and accurate. Between another mom and myself we rattled off questions from our list in our phones. Some of the other parents had been through this before and by their reassuring smiles you could tell they’d asked these same questions the previous year. We asked about eating, napping, potty time, how many kids, how many students, would class be integrated. All of our questions were answered with ease and at the end of the tour I was ready to bring Caleb in the next morning to see his class and meet his teachers.
Once I left orientation I was confident Caleb would love it. I knew he’d be excited. I was affirming that and speaking it into existence. I couldn’t handle it otherwise. We would find out for sure the next morning…first impressions are EVERYTHING to my young cub.
*Side bar: The Pre-K program for kiddos with IEPs consists of children between the ages of 3 to 5. So depending on the disability or developmental delay they could be in this program for 2 years. However, the class is mixed with traditional pre-k students who are 4 years old*