Sunday, August 23, 2009

School is a beautiful thing.

Henry: Why did the M & M go to school?

Me: I don't know.

Henry: Because he wanted to be a Smartie.

Henry has smooth delivery and joke-telling skills, even at the age of 7. You do not want me to tell you a joke. I'm beyond horrible at telling jokes. It goes something like, "There were these two guys. No, actually it was a guy and a girl. And they were in a bar. Kind of a restaurant-like bar, but with food there. And this dude walks in. He was kind of a big dude with muscles. Wait, did I say this took place in Texas? Because it did. Anyway, so this dude walks in and he says..."

See? I don't have mad skills with jokes. Remind me never to tell you one.

Anyway, back to my original topic. M & M's going to school and what this has to do with my life.

School started today!

Do you hear that chorus of angels singing? What a bee-a-u-ti-ful word!

Of course it's not going to be fun getting back into the routine of leaving the house with all four children dressed and ready to go by 7:20 every morning, (Oh how do I love you Catholic school uniform? Let me count the ways you help me avoid clothing battles in the morning...) and I don't relish cajoling children to bathe and go to bed by 8:30 p.m. Boo. But it's so good for them! And I'll gladly do all of the above if it means an end to the fighting, tattle-taling and cries of boredom that has been very prevalent in our house as of late.

Have I mentioned that I like school yet?

'Cause I do.

Last Friday was Meet the Teacher/School Supply Drop-Off Day at school, which was a great warm-up for today, but as you can imagine, anxiety disorders and school don't always mix so well. Henry has been nervous about this day for quite some time.

Charlie was all, "I'm so excited for 3rd grade! I can't wait to see my friends!"

But my little Henry is like his mom in more ways than one. I could practically see the over-analyzing in his brain. He had a great talk with Bill last night, and he was recalling every first day of school he's ever had, which is a whopping total of four now, because he went to two years of Pre-K. But who remembers that stuff? Especially if you're a little kid? Well, I'll tell you who remembers that stuff in vivid detail: Henry.

Last year when he started 1st grade, it was a new school for Henry and Charlie because we had just moved here from another state. On the first day of school last year Henry didn't talk to anyone. At lunch time, his teacher said that he just sat in the cafeteria and wouldn't even crack open his lunch box. Later he told me that he was afraid that everyone would make fun of the way he eats. His fears are so irrational sometimes that it makes Bill and I just want to say, "How ridiculous! No one would ever make fun of the way you chew your sandwich! No one would ever make fun of the way you write your name on your paper! No one would ever make fun of the way you tuck in your shirt!" But to Henry, the fears he has are very real, and it is his struggle, and eventually, in his own time, he conquers most of these fears on his own.

That new school is now old school. He has many friends and is well acclimated to the building and the teachers. You would think it's a piece of cake for him to return this year, right?

As if it were that easy.

The fears all came flooding back to him, and he told Bill last night, "Dad, when I started kindergarten, I didn't talk to anyone at school for 5 days. When I started 1st grade, I didn't talk to anyone at school for 1 day." He recognized that it was getting a little better for him, and Bill pointed that out to him as well to remind him that it does get easier.

I sent his teacher an email last night asking her if she received the diagnoses paperwork from his psychologist. There's so much I want to tell her, and this Mama Bear wants to fill her in entirely. I want to say, "Hey Mrs. So-and-so, Henry has Anxiety, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He's very intelligent but has a hard time focusing. He might exhibit impulsive behaviors like hitting or acting out. He might tell you unequivocally "no," if you ask him to do an assignment and he is feeling overwhelmed with anxiety. He's a really great kid, but sometimes he's very intense. So, hey, good luck with that."

Instead, I gave her the basic information and then let it go. I want to give her the chance to get to know him before I over-explain him. He's in great hands with her and I trust her judgment.

When we got to school this morning, all the kids assembled in the cafeteria before they could go to their classrooms. Charlie walked in and high-fived all his friends. He was in his element. Henry walked in and sat by himself at the very end of the table designated for 2nd graders. His head was down, and he was talking to no one.

And I just wanted to run over and hug him.

But if Bill and I jumped in there, that wasn't going to help him. We know that he has to learn to cope when we aren't there. So we went a little closer, but hung back in the fringes so we could watch what would happen and let him handle this one on his own. Suddenly one of his buds came up to him, jabbed him with a little playful punch, and his frown was replaced with a big smile.

It's going to be okay for him.

Oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention something.

I really like school.

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