First Grade, First Grade
August 27, 2012
On Friday I took Noah to his school's Open House. We met his new teachers, checked out his classrooms, and I was completely thrilled to see that the school assigned him to the teachers of his dreams, to exactly the kind of teachers Noah has historically responded best to and worked hardest to please.
(Young, babyfaced-types with gobs of enthusiasm and no fear of Bribery With Snacks.)
(I am about 99% sure his special ed teacher from last year hand-picked them for us.)
Before we left, Noah insisted on visiting every former teacher and classroom. There were big hugs and high fives and marveling over his missing front teeth from his kindergarten teachers (and yes, Hot Teacher Is Still Hot, Only Now More Tan And How Did I Not Notice The Tattoos Oh My God), and then we stopped in to visit his preschool teacher. He had the same teacher for two full years of the Preschool Education Program (PEP), though it already feels like forever ago.
Noah ran in and gave her a hug and they chatted about his summer (BEACH WATERSLIDES BEACH AND 14 MILLION HOURS OF LEGO), and I stood there and stupidly beamed at him, all big and huge and grown-up looking.
And then I saw the other parents. The other parents with the terrified, nervous faces, because it's not the same for them. A classroom visit is never just an informal, no-big-thing. For them, this visit is loaded with meaning, with promise, and with a million things that could go wrong. What if my child doesn't like it here? What if they have a fit, a tantrum, an "episode?" Are the other kids "the same" as my child? Better? Or worse? Autism? SPD? Downs? Non-verbal? Is that kid still in a diaper? Does anyone notice that my child is still in a diaper?
What if this teacher can't help? What if this wasn't the right decision?
I knew what they were thinking because I remember thinking all of those things, forever ago.
I tried to make eye contact and smile at a couple of them, perhaps so I could work in an encouraging comment about how wonderful this teacher is, or how happy we were with the program or something.
But they were all watching Noah. Handsome, bubbly, talkative Noah, proudly announcing his first grader status and talking about waterslides.
He was all the encouragement I could possibly offer to any parent in that room. Look at him. Listen to him. You'll get here too. It's scary and overwhelming right now but you can do this. Keep swimming. Keep fighting. You'll get here too.
He's a first grader now. Officially.
Bring it on.