Nathan tried hard to swallow, but it was almost like his throat was just slowly closing. He knew he had to do it, he had to! But it was hard. Mom always said 'we can do hard things', so he was going to try to borrow her words and tell himself that over and over again, with every block that passed as they made the drive from home to school in Mom's van on Sept.2, the first day of school at Misty Hills School.
Who would his teacher be? Would he have any friends there? Would he at least be able to find any friends at recess? Would the teacher be nice? Would anyone talk to him? Would they laugh at his reply? Would they like his new shirt? That reminded him, his new shirt was itchy at the back of his neck, oh man, why did he have to wear a new one? Especially today. The fears and questions just bombarded him without ceasing.
He clutched his security, his freedom, in his arms. His binders and the Kleenex box from the school supply list could all go in his backpack. But not this. This was the only hope he had of making it through this day. The only way he could possibly connect with anyone he met, beyond facial expressions and smiles and sounds. This communication device was the key to his words, the only way he had to talk, the only way he could breathe really - if freedom is breathing. And it was the only way he had to make it through another long day with heart-questions that he couldn't voice and fears he couldn't describe. All he had to do was remember where to find the words and menus he wanted, and hope that the teacher or friend would wait long enough for him to get his message out...it would speak his words, his smiles, his heart.
He took a deep breath and even smiled a little. He could do hard things.
Thinking of all the kids as they head back to school in our area next week, but especially the ones I have to come to love so much with complex communication needs and extra challenges! They are the bravest. Ever.
My friend kindly described this week as 'the autumn rains are coming', which is better than complaining about it pouring rain for a few days and the temperature drastically dropping, don't you think? :) But I think we are feeling it here in our area of the world...my boys found some trees where the tips are turning yellow, the calendar is telling us the summer is coming to an end, and I think we're all kind of just sensing this shift as it happens.
What kind of fall person are you? Glad to send your kids back, or mourning the loss of the time together? Relieved to embrace routines again, or getting in all the lazy days you can while you still have a week? Ever since my kids started school, I have struggled a bit with sending them back to school and saying goodbye to summer easy living, but I have always been a big fan of fall with cooler weather and routines, so it is kind of a mixture for me these days!
This year is extra fun, with learning about my new rhythms at ConnectSLP. I am really looking forward to working with some little kids again, and curious about what my work will entail! Opportunities to advertise and connect and build relationships are opening up all the time, and I'm really thankful so far for the ways this allows me to reach out to others!
As you send your kids back to school, can I just encourage you for a moment to set aside that overwhelmed feeling (I know it well!) and take some time to really connect with your kids? Give them a few moments on their agenda (even if it means coming up with questions about Minecraft), and let them know you are proud of them and who they are as humans. Think of some specific character traits that you love about them and tell them they are great. They're heading off into a world that can be overwhelming at times, and their little hearts need to know that you are in their corner! That connection with you can set the tone for learning for them and give them the confidence they need to be the best they can be.
Good luck to us all as we transition to fall!
P.S. Notice anything different about my website? :) Bee happy!