Friday, September 11, 2009

Jupiter in kindergarten

Jupiter has completed five days of kindergarten. She has yet to stay at school by herself, but yesterday and today was able to stay in the classroom by herself while Mimi "volunteered" in the hallway by stuffing the kids' notice folders (swine flu information, anyone?) and creating a beautiful bulletin board outside Mrs. VerdantLand's room. Transitioning to the specials still throws her for a loop, especially since the classroom teacher doesn't stay with the kids during art, music, phys ed, or library. So the specials continue to be a source of anxiety. On Tuesday Jupiter went home with Mimi for a "lunch break." When they returned to school, the office secretary asked Jupiter what she's been doing. Jupiter answered her that she had swam in the pool and had lunch. The secretary said, "You're not going to do that every day, are you?" I had to think about that for awhile before I realized the extent to which that was the wrong thing to say. Jupiter's teacher, fortunately, is quicker than I am, and when she heard about that she promptly informed the office that Jupiter does NOT need editorial comments from the office staff about leaving school for lunch or for the day. And since after her break, Jupiter came back into that building ready to learn, as opposed to just being present and struggling to keep herself regulated, it was totally the right decision to have her go home to Mimi's for a break.

Wednesday is a half day anyway, and on Thursday she stayed a half day. But on Thursday, with the exception of art, she let Mimi leave the classroom while she stayed, so that was great work for one day. Today she stayed at school almost all day; leaving just before the final recess and dismissal.

Great great work. The secretary comment made me have a long thinking time about how much effort it takes for Jupiter to function in the school environment. When she was a baby living with a group of other babies and one or two adults, her basic needs were not met. She wasn't safe. So why WOULDN'T it be difficult for her? Especially at the beginning of the year when she hasen't had a chance to build up a level of trust with all those new adults. It dawned on me how every single interaction she has with every single adult at that school can and will affect her fear in a positive or negative way. Including when the secretaries make comments about Jupiter going home for lunch. It never occurred to me to inform them that if they sign her in or out of the office, the correct thing to say is something along the lines of "Hi Jupiter! Hope you had a great lunch!" "It's great to see you today!" I learn something new every day.

Mrs. Verdantland is extremely supportive. Despite the odd/judgemental looks my mother sees on occasion from the few staff members at the school who don't know who she is. Those are the same ones who think we should just leave her and make her understand that we're going to come back to get her. Mrs. Verdantland reminds us that WE know her better than anybody else and are the ones who knows what she needs. And agrees with us that if Jupiter's anxiety gets to the tantrum/rage level, it will severly impact her ability to be successful because the kids will treat her differently. Which is exactly what happened her first year of preschool. And is worth avoiding at all costs.

Tomorrow Jupiter starts a session of therapeutic riding. She's wanted to ride forever and I can't wait to see her smile when she gets up on that pony for the first time.

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