We are 2 months into school now - and I have managed a few trips into the school to see how things are going in my kids' classes. Zach is in a typical classroom, in fact he has the same teacher Sophia had. And he and Sophia get to go to the same school. I love that - it's obviously convenient for picking the kids up, knowing the staff and all, but what really tickles me is that Sophie loves to see Zach in the hall and give him a hug.
Zach is not able to tell me how is day was due to his limited communication. The teacher occasionally sends me an email or writes in his take home notebook about any concerns. These were frequent at the onset of the year, and have greatly diminished as time has gone on. When I originally was thinking - I can't ask Zach how his day went, I then thought back to Sophia and how I when I would ask her, she would answer "Good" I then would ask: "What did you do?" only to receive the inevitable: "I don't know."
I remember looking into this, and getting advice about asking more specific questions: "What was your favorite thing you did today?" Sophie: "All of it." Then I would ask: "What was your least favorite part?" Sophie: "I liked it all, Momma!" Me: "Who did you play with?" Sophia: "Everyone." Me: "Can you show me something you learned today?" Sophia: "Mom - I'm tired." Yup - so much for that expert internet advice.
In the fact that I was not able to get my uber-communicationaly-abled daughter to give me one ounce of information on command about her day, I let it go. What I did take note of was her behavior: she was happy and wanted to go to school. Was she learning? I suppose. Sophia had a good command of the information required for kindergarten prior to entrance. What she was always lacking was the fine motor skills - and we had been working on that for a l-o-n-g time as we continue to do so. But one other note: she came home with some phone numbers of girls who wanted playdates. I checked in with the teacher and her OT periodically, and let the rest go. She was healthy, happy, and progressing.
So here I am with Zach. I ask him how is day was and I sometimes get a "Goot." response, most likely rote from running "How are you?" in discrete trials in his home program. Having learned from Sophia, I paid attention to his behavior: he was happy and wanted to go to school. We went to the Family Night Bookfair at the school: Zach seemed happy to go and didn't show even a wince at entering the school - and in fact walked to his classroom with his Daddy and seemed frustrated when Steve would not let him enter the room. Did he want to show us where he spent his day??
The Jog-A-Thon is a fundraiser the school PTA does to raise funds for their activities at teh year. It involves the kids doing laps in the bus circle in front of the school and people paying donations per lap. Both my kids did it. Zach was silly and distracted and I ended up running the circle with him a bunch of times to give the Special Education teacher a break. But he did it - and a few of his classmates (particularly one precious little Julianne) cheered him on, even took his hand to encourage him to keep going.
Then on Columbus Day - Babcia Morphet and I decided to take Zach to the zoo while Sophia had a field trip with her Girl Scout troop. Did I happen to mention that I think Sophia got into the best troop with the greatest leader in the area? I had decided after our last trip to the zoo where Steve was chastised for having Zach in a stroller by a fellow patron - that with Babcia there to help - we would see how far Zach could walk on his own. And yes - some stranger did say something rude to Steve about having such an old child in a stroller. UUggghh.
So, off we went, it was a beautiful fall day. And we were managing pretty darn well. Babcia and I were so excited to come upon 3 baby Siberian tigers - they were so cute! We spent time at the Asian elephant exhibit - something the Syracuse is known for. As we were spending time in this area - I heard a little voice say: "Hi Zach!" I look over and a little boy was standing next to Zach. I asked him: "Honey, did you hear me call him Zach?" to which the little boy responded: "No - Zach is in my class with me!" What a thrill this was to experience. And that sort of was a clincher for me - a classmate thought enough of Zach to say hello to him. This outside incident made me feel good about the unknown of what was taking place in his classroom.
Zach's special education teacher and speech language pathologist also spent a few hours here at our house and met with one of Zach's private paraprofessionals. They got to tune into what sorts of things we work on here to help support what was going on in the classroom, and what strategies have the biggest pay off with motivating him.
Outside of school, Zach began to enjoy the monkey bars in our backyard these past few weeks. One day, the weather was cold, it was pouring rain out, and I heard the alarm for the door opening go off. There Zach was - running off into the rainy cold day right to the playset. I donned my jacket and rainboots and met him where we went on to do 10 iterations of going across the monkey bars in the 54 degree pouring rain. I cannot even imagine what the neighbors must think. But he was so happy.
We have had some really decent weather these past few weeks and Zach's interest in climbing and the monkey bars has continued. I feel so connected to him this way - I LOVED climbing when I was a kid - and still like to try and navigate my way up an old maple when given the chance. The joy of fitting your foot into a crook to gain leverage to raise yourself up another 12" from the ground can feel empowering and freeing. That's my boy.