Friday, May 18, 2007

My Day At School

I love going to visit Theo at school. Every time I go they are doing something so marvelously fun I wish I could be 3 again.
This morning, I took Theo to his school bus and then met him at school a little while later. It was my first "have to go back home for toy" experience. While waiting for the bus, Theo said, "bus is home." He was referring to the little toy bus he takes with him every morning, and he suddenly got very sad when he realized he didn't have it. Not wanting to miss the real bus, I tried to distract him and get him to sing the alphabet song. It was the most depressing rendition I've ever heard. He sang it, but with a sour face and a sad voice. So of course, we went back upstairs and he found his bus. He was the happiest kid in the universe after that.

I got to school and met for about a half hour with Christa, a social worker with whom I keep in contact on a regular basis. We discussed Theo's progress, and both had good things to report. Little to no hitting, more speech, etc.

After, Christa took me down to Grace's classroom, where they were singing their daily songs. I know these songs pretty well because Theo comes home and sings them to me. I walked in, and he looked up with a big smile and said, "Hi Mommy!" I sat on the other side of the room from him, and every few minutes he looked over at me and gave me a "what are you doing here?" glance.

I was happy to see Theo participating in the songs much more than the last time I was there. He was also participating in their discussion of caterpillars. May is bug month (every month has a theme). They have caterpillars in the classroom, and they're going to watch them spin cocoons and turn into butterflies over the next weeks. I used to collect caterpillars as a kid and do the same thing in my room! The kids loved looking at them with a magnifying glass.

Overall, Theo was much more verbal throughout the day than I expected. Certainly more than last time, which was a couple of weeks ago. He still was pretty behind the other kids. They were more comprehensive and interested in the discussions and songs. Theo kind of just followed along. After they sang a song about ants, they did a project where they make ants by dipping their thumb in black paint, making three circles on green paper, and then drawing in legs with a marker. Theo actually did a pretty good job once he got the hang of it, I was proud of him. But he didn't get that he was making ants. I'm pretty sure he would have if it had been a one on one lesson; for him, it's just a lot of information to take in with so many people around at once.

After the art project, it was time for free play. There are stations set up around the room - blocks, kitchen, table toys, etc.. Each station has room for three kids. Theo wanted to play blocks, but it was already full with three kids. He then did something unusal for him - he started to cry. He cried and kept saying, "I want blocks, I want play blocks," with tears streaming down his face. Grace and the TAs were shocked. They'd never seen this before. Normally if something is full he just goes to something else. We figured it was because I was there. I was actually glad it happened, I was glad they got to see that side of him. After all, tantrums are "normal" kid behavior. Although, at home he doesn't cry when he doesn't get what he wants. He gets mad and whines or yells, but today at school he grew really upset. I guess he was overwhelmed. Luckily, at that point Lee, the physical therapist, came in to take him upstairs for their session. He was still crying, and said "mommy, come" and pulled me out with him. Again, this was surprising to Grace, Lee, and the TAs. You see, he never asserts himself at school. He doesn't tell them what he wants. And with me there, suddenly he was making demands all over the place. Later, during lunch, he asked me for a drink. He never asks them for a drink. He waits for them to initiate. So I'm really glad they got to see him be a bit more like he is at home, so they know I'm not crazy. I was touched to see Grace watching him, I could tell from the look on her face that she was genuinely happy with what she was seeing.

I always enjoy watching Theo's physical therapy sessions with Lee. He is really doing well with her. He's mastered his trike, he knows how to do alll the different he did the monkey swing, where he goes up a ramp, catches a swing, and then swings to knock down a block of his choosing. He also set up a balance trail made out of velcro blocks, where he'd walk across and pick up a turtle or a frog. He did great, not just in the physical part, but in his understanding of the activities. I was very proud of him today.

I came on a good day - a boy in his class had a birthday party. Paul turned 5. When I asked Theo whose birthday it was, he said "Paul." And he knew how old he was. He was so excited, along with the other kids, to have cake ( a little too excited -- he tried to blow out Paul's candle.)

Another thing that struck me was Theo's interest in the two children who were not in school today. Every day, Grace goes over who is in school and who isn't. The kids are so cute, they're all very concerned if someone is sick. And Theo, throughout the day, told me, "Kaseem not here" or "Tayang not here" with that serious, scrunched up face he makes. I love the awareness he has of his classmates.

I discussed mostly the good things I observed today. There were certainly some negative things, but overall I'm pleased with the progress he is making in school. I can see why he loves it there so much, they have a total blast. They end the day putting on music and dancing, and then each kid gets a special goodbye song sung to him by the class while he spins around a pole and runs out to get his jacket from his cubby.

All I know is, the last time I left his school I was very depressed. I didn't blog about it, I couldn't bring myself to. But my spirits were lifted after today. When I went a few weeks ago it was just after spring break. I guess he had to get back into his groove.

Ooh, ooh! For the first time I saw Theo use a urinal. My big man!

I'll end by mentioning something cute. Grace had the class sing a song about the days of the week, and told them that first they would sing it in a whisper and then they would sing it loud. Well, as they sang it in a whisper, Theo wore a silly smile, full of anticipation. Then, when they started singing loud, he CRACKED UP. He thought it was the most hysterical thing!

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