I hide around the corner and creep back to his classroom to peer into the window to see how he is doing. It’s his first day of first grade. Well technically this is his second, ‘first day’ as he is repeating first grade. I turn my body against the wall hands in front of me, as if I’m about to be frisked. Ever so slowly, I slide in front of the window. Leigh looks up and smiles. I only allow myself a small peek and slide back…It’s like I’m on a stake out. I let out a huge, happy sigh of relief. I am almost being bathed in it.
Ryan is sitting calmly and getting out his books. Leigh, our new therapist, is sitting next to him. He looks calm and is taking out a book. Today is her first day of school with him. She’s seen him over the summer and is doing fine. He likes her and she likes him-no small feat since he has seen so many people come and go at public school. It’s almost made him more gun-shy to new faces.
I stand there for a few minutes waiting…waiting for an outburst or something. But after a few minutes I chuckle and know it is fruitless. She has this covered. She is a professional—as are all Dr. Hunter’s aides. They have never had problems with him and if they did, they know exactly how to handle it.
Standing there with the image of him being calm, I wonder why I was worried…well, duh, it’s because of how he acted at public school. The memories come back in big waves and my stomach flutters recalling it. Remembering in a word: frustration…
It seemed the whole experience was a battle. Kindergarten got better after a few months and he learned the routine. But his aide was very “hands off”. To the point she would leave him alone for long periods of time. One in particular being the thanksgiving feast; THE most fun of all days in kindergarten. They had spent weeks preparing, making t-shirts and hats and drums. Because I had taken part in it with Jenna, I knew how great it was. So, I was there to volunteer again. I was engrossed in my job helping make tortillas; and I spot Ryan wandering around. A few minutes later I still see him aimlessly wandering–alone. He disappears inside and I assume his aide is with him. But he wanders past me again and I watch him go back into the classroom. What is she doing? As his mother, I have to check. I remember the horror I felt walking into the completely empty classroom and seeing the opposite door was wide open—the door that led to the parking lot. My mind goes to high gear as I begin to think: he’s gone outside…how far would he go…would he cross the street? I lunge forward to run out the door and my eye catches movement in the far corner.
“Stop!” I yell as he is just about to grab a hot dog off the rolling hot burner. His aide is nowhere to be found.