It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… tales from Kindergarten

Mr. Sensitive and his rag-tag band of pirates / superheroes / ninjas

A while ago one of my co-workers asked my five year old, Mr. Sensitive how his summer was.  Mr. Sensitive sighed, hung his head and replied, “It’s complicated.”

Shocked, my co-worked laughed and said, “Well tell me about it!”

Of course Mr. Sensitive couldn’t/ wouldn’t, and zoomed his race car around her office instead.

And that seems to be our Kindergarten experiences as well.  Complicated.  Just like the opening line from A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

I haven’t really told you how Mr. Sensitive has been doing returning to school.  Last year lead us to seriously consider homeschooling after exhausting alternatives in both local boards.  This year confirmed our decision to leave this city and pursue alternates (i.e. semi-homeschooling) in Smalltown, Ontario.

Let’s just say it hasn’t been a great start.  Luckily most of the staff (teacher, teaching assistant and bus driver) are the same as last year.  But its heart wrenching when your child comes home mortified and crying because ‘they laughed at my bum,’ or you can’t get your kid to talk about the other kids in the class – is anyone playing with him?

We’ve struggled with Mr. Sensitive experiencing high levels of fatigue, and need for rest and watching other kids from the sidelines.

No one at school seems to realise how smart he is, or can really help him learn his letters.  What do you do with a kid who enjoys basic chemistry, can make molecular structures to represent various states of matter, and cannot recognise any letters in the alphabet?

It breaks my heart.  It is so complicated.

As a school teacher myself I know what it’s like on the other side of the blackboard – when I teach I’m so busy keeping the whole group going and engaged, I literally do not sit down all day.  I give each day my absolute best.  I can’t imagine having 28 Kindergarteners to deal with.

As a teacher I know I only see one side of a student – the school side.  And things that happen at school may not happen at home (and vice versa) and students do not always communicate well.

According to his teacher, Mr. Sensitive is happy, outgoing and active at school.

According to us, Mr. Sensitive is angst-laden, anxiety-riddled and depressed.

See, it’s complicated.

My son’s school recently held a Meet the Teacher Night.  Of course I was going, and bringing Mr. Sensitive, Little Miss Adorable and Baby Dunk to check out the classroom.

In the couple hours before we departed for this event Mr. Sensitive mentioned this event once, “I’m going to show you my classroom.”

Then, for the next two hours, he whined, cried, refused to eat or get dressed and threw stuff everywhere.  I literally had to drag him whining and crying into the car.  It made loading a baby and toddler into the car a dream by comparison.

Once strapped into his car seat Mr. Sensitive cried and sobbed, “I don’t want to go to school!  I don’t want to ever go!”  I asked if he was worried.

YES!! He sobbed.

He did some deep breathing and we listened to calming music.  It really didn’t help, but at least made him feel a little more in control.

I suggested we stop and get him a treat before we go to school.  Yes, this is some form of coercion, but I needed a coffee too.  And Mr. Sensitive ate next to nothing for dinner, so I knew he was probably hungry.  In a situation like this Canada’s Food Guide for Healthy Eating goes out the window.

In the drive-thru Mr. Sensitive upgraded his cookie treat to a cookie AND donut.  The drive-thru lady was amused.  Thinking that a sugar high could carry Mr. Sensitive through Meet the Teacher Night, I agreed to the treat upgrade.

He stopped crying and ate his cookie AND donut.  I drank my coffee, cherishing the few minutes of silence.  The whole evening was like trying to drag a small, anxious tornado some place it clearly does not want to go.  I was exhausted and we hadn’t even started at school.

Once we arrived at the school and loaded the baby and toddler into a stroller, Mr. Sensitive promptly buried his head under it.  I pushed the stroller through the crowd of parents milling about and Mr. Sensitive refused to come out from under the stroller.

Other kindergarten kids walked by and said hi to him.

He refused to come out from under the stroller.

One of his best friends came up to him.

He refused to come out from under the stroller.

He couldn’t tell me where his classroom was so I walked into the wrong classroom and started looking for his pictures and art work.  (How’s that for looking like an involved parent?)

Once I found the right classroom and teacher we walked in.  Little Miss Adorable and Baby Dunk raced around.  Eventually Mr. Sensitive pulled his head out from under the stroller and walked up to his teacher.

He stood with his back to her, and asked, “Do you know Baby Dunk?”

The teacher started talking to Mr. Sensitive.  After a couple minutes he ran off to play with another child in the class.

I approached his teacher, and asked how he’s been.

Fantastic, he’s always so happy.  He’s friendly and outgoing, he plays with the other kids.

I tried to describe what he’s been like at home – crying, socially rejected, paralysed with anxiety and nearly depressed.

I could tell from her expression she did not believe me.  “Well, I don’t see any of that here.”

See, it’s complicated.

 ***

If you want to see how complicated Kindergarten has become for us, check out my Kindergarten Chronicles page.  It really is complicated.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
English novelist (1812 – 1870)

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About Angela

Super-powered, Special Ed teacher and special needs mama to FOUR (!) children with an assortment of special needs; including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and Prader Willi Syndrome. Our family features a heavy dose of good ol' ADHD). I blog about our halfpastnormal life.
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3 Responses to It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… tales from Kindergarten

  1. it really is complicated isn’t it

  2. funnygurl2 says:

    God, a lot of that sounds like me not wanting to go to middle school every morning. But that was because I was bullied. And not for any special-ed type reason. Just because I was a weaker specimen in the species and the other kids knew that they could.

    Maybe you need to work from the angle that “school is terrible for everyone”, and minimize what you can from there???

    I see there is only “9 months to go” on your counter. Maybe you could cling to that…

    • Angela says:

      You are absolutely right. Now we do a semi-homeschooling thing. My son goes to school 3-4 days a week and is home on at least one. We do ‘big’ family outings (i.e. to the zoo, consevation areas) on those days off and he loves it.

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