Today was Will's first day of KINDERGARTEN!
The day began earlier than normal. Will is in a half day kindergarten. Thank goodness the half day begins at 9:30 & ends at 1.
He still naps 2 hours a day (at least) & I was not ready to give those up. Nor is he. I tried one day this summer to see how he did. Sweet love needs his naps!
And he is a late sleeper. As R and I went into his room at 8:15 this morning, we joked that we were waking him up for junior high.
He did not want to wake up.
He did not want to go to school.
I made a special breakfast. He ate a few bites but then insisted his tummy hurt. After major tummy issues last week, I didn't push it and figured he was just nervous.
He got dressed and even had some time to play.
Then we did our school pictures.
Finally. A happy face.
We prayed for extra courage. He felt like his bunny and gigi would help but he didn't want anyone to see him with them. He cuddled them all the way to school and then we stuffed them in his backpack. The little stowaways may be attending school for awhile.
Daddy left work to meet us at the drop off. By this point, Will & I had already battled at home. He was very nervous about school.
He was now in the hallway and refusing to go in his classroom.
Finally. Finally someone in the class recognized him and smiled at him and Will smiled back and ventured in holding my hand.
He sat down & got to work tracing.
Will & his teacher, Mrs. D.
After everyone arrived, the class & I headed downstairs to the other kindergarten class where the teacher immediately scooped Will up in her arms and rocked him in the rocking chair while she began talking to all of the little kids.
She reminded them of their verse this week (Psalm 139 - You are fearfully & wonderfully made! How perfect is that?!?!)
Then she shared with them a story from her own life about her brother with differences.
She used all of the same phrases we use. She clearly had a tender heart towards Will as she rocked him and described her brother and his abilities.
And I melted and cried. I couldn't help it.
Finally, I gathered myself and wiped my tears and I sat down & read the book Will & I wrote this summer. (I'll share about it soon.)
Basically, it introduces Will and describes his various adaptive equipment (prosthetics, scissors, pencil grip, etc.) Mostly, it compares him to other kids and shows them that they are a lot more like than they are different.
Then I take questions. I like to get the questions out of the way at the beginning. I don't want kids whispering or drawing their own inaccurate conclusions about Will's differences so I prefer to address it head on and help them move beyond the differences to recognizing that he is a kid just like them.
They were very engaged with the book - calling out answers and Will had fun showing off his tricks and his prosthetics.
He informed them that the designs are not tattoos since they don't come off in the water. (Clearly, he is a little sheltered and unsure of exactly what a real tattoo is.)
Several kids raised their hands with questions. The first question was, "I like his zancos." The second was, "I like the designs on his legs."
I informed those kids that those were excellent questions. My heart soared with hope.
And then one kid challenged me about Will's hands.
It was nothing we hadn't heard before so I answered him and moved on.
Will was smiling as he headed back upstairs. He was chatting and happy.
The school director stopped me in the hall and told me she had been specifically praying for Will.
And my heart soared. I felt such a peace about the school and this decision for this year.
(I still do feel the peace, for the record.)
I left school and Ellie & I ran some errands and ate a fast lunch with Daddy. I felt that surely things were going well.
And then I picked him up.
As I walked down the hallway, a teacher pulled me aside to tell me about a playground incident.
My heart hurt but I guess I naively felt like it would still be okay - that Will would have recovered well and moved on to other friends.
But as we left school, he told me about two incidents. One child called him weird & said his hands are weird. He told me about the little one who refused to play with him on the playground - even though she played with him last week.
And then he told me, "it was the worsest day. I was so lonely, mommy."
My heart broke.
It just broke.
He was so sweaty and I suggested he remove his prosthetics when playing outside and he said, "I can't mommy! I'll look like a baby! I'm shorter than everyone!"
Oh. He gets it. We've tried to shield him from the medical jargon and some of the facts but really, this just affirms some decisions we've made recently.
It just stunk to hear him - he would rather suffer through Texas heat outside with prosthetics than remove them and have the other kids treat him like a baby.
I'm hoping as he gets more comfortable, he may take them off.
As the afternoon wore on, I tried to get him to say at least one good thing about his day.
He told me the best part of the day was cuddling with me.
I know starting school is hard for a lot of kids. I know that kids name call. I know that one minute a kid is your best friend and the next they pretend they don't know you. I know that this happens to kids without differences. I know that I want my kid treated normally.
At least I used to say that.
Today, I don't want him treated "normally." Not if normal means coming home and telling your mommy that your feelings are hurt and you are lonely.
Not if normal means you are teased because you look so different.
Just once, I want him accepted just as he is. I want kids to see his fun personality and to want to be his friend.
Five year olds don't feel lonely. That's reserved for teenagers.
And when grandmothers call to hear all about the first day of kindergarten, little kids aren't supposed to hang their heads and honestly share about a sad day while their mama's heart breaks again. (And I'm pretty sure two grandmothers' hearts broke today too.)
I know we have to walk through this. I know that the first few days of every school year will be tough. I know that as soon as the new kids get to know him that they will be buddies. I know this, I know it, I know it.
But my heart is hurting. I feel sad and overwhelmed as I sit at the dinner table and we brainstorm ways Will can respond to kids when they call him "weird."
I've cried a lot today. I cried this morning as I got ready. I cried in my car when I left school. I cried throughout the morning. I cried in my car when I picked him up (behind my sunglasses.) I cried after I put him down for a nap. I cried while I cooked dinner and he happily played - safe in his own home.
I cried after bedtime tonight & now I'm headed to a hot bath at midnight where I'll probably cry again.
He doesn't want to go tomorrow. He's nervous no one will want to play with him or be his friend. We're praying for extra doses of courage for all of us - for a buddy for my little buddy.