School is Back in Session

 
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A lot can change in a year. A year ago my daughter couldn't write her name, or tell you what she did at school that day. I had concerns of her wandering off (more like nightmares), and literally couldn't imagine her walking to class every morning- alone. How was she going to navigate through out the school day without her personal buffer from all things meltdown worthy? My anxiety was at an all time high and I frequently questioned if it would be too much. By the end of the year, the amount of knowledge and personal growth she displayed completely restored my faith in the public school system. The first year wasn't easy, despite seeing my child excited about learning, it was hard watching her struggle to keep up. And even more so, because she began to take notice. At the end of the year during her last IEP meeting, we all agreed that it was best interest she repeat kindergarten this year. It's a weird feeling. It was apparent all through out the year that she would benefit most from having the same teachers and doing the school year over again. Yet, I couldn't help but still feel my throat begin to swell with sadness, while my eyes remain stoic, trying to appear fine. I had no idea how I was going to begin to explain this to her. Especially because at the end of the year she couldn't stop asking, "After kindergarten is first grade right? So I'm going to first grade.", and then would start repeating how she was going to the 1st grade. I knew this was going to be a challenge and potentially heart breaking.

Over the summer I would casually try to correct her and explain that when she learned everything there is to learn, then she would go to the first grade. She would just then attempt to correct me by reminding me, after kindergarten is the first grade. She wasn't budging. After reiterating myself in every way possible, by the end of the summer she seemed to understand and accept it. The only issue was the fact she wouldn't have the same classmates as the previous year, which is totally understandable. The first thing she said this year at the 'teachers meet and greet' was, "Why isn't her name on here?". Clearly having just looked over the name chart. "..I don't see p-i-p-e-r, piper. There's no Piper?" I was both proud and impressed. 

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It's only been a few days into the new school year, so we're still trying to establish a routine that works for us. This year will be different for many reasons, mainly being we know what to expect this time around. And just as Olive has grown and changed, so has her needs. There is still other aspects in school, like interacting with her peers 'appropriately' that seem some what foreign to her. I hadn't realized this until visiting the classroom through out the year, and watching her interact with her with other children. She's always friendly and has so much to say, but it's what she says. And also how she says it. Their reactions and facial expressions when she'd do or say something unexpected would range from confused and uninterested to engaged and excited. I couldn't tell if she was aware or unable to gauge their responses accurately. It's so different watching her interact with other children from afar, especially one she doesn't know. Most recently at soccer practice. She gets very loud, unable to contain herself from movement, and reverts back to noises rather than speech. I can't tell if she's nervous or gets too excited. Normally, around her friends and family she sees regularly, she'll for the most part interact in a 'normal' fashion. She'll respond to questions, share information, and form sentences when speaking, but her hyperactive behavior always remains.

Over the summer we had a really hard time once school ended. The structured routine we had laid before her had diminished, and so did a lot of her ability to cope. For most of the day she would be on edge or troubled with anxiety. She wasn't sleeping, and she became more fearful of the unexpected. Her stomach issues started popping up more and more frequently. She was clearly having a hard time. Yesterday the girls started soccer. I'm interested to see how Olive does with juggling a sport and school. Usually she requires more time to decompress in between activities, which worries me. But what worries me more is her continuing on as she is right now. Overall, they both did great and had a lot of fun. We're pretty much starting from scratch in regards to Olive's routine this year. We've made changes to her eating habits, sleeping habits (no more screen time during bedtime.), and now adding soccer into the mix. I can already tell, this is going to be her year.