School Daze

I wanted to post an update on the school saga, because many of you have been following our arduous pre-school journey and I don’t want to deprive you of the big payoff…

Two years, three schools and many tears later, Tariku is ROCKING pre-school, at long last. I’m speculating that a couple of factors are coming into play to make this attempt successful when the others have been disastrous. First, I think he wasn’t ready to be separated from us quite as early as most of his friends. He’s been a bit late developmentally with a lot of things and in spite of all the parenting methodologies we try, he’s just ready when he’s ready. For example, we stood on our heads with the potty training until I was convinced he was going to wind up wearing Depends, until one day he decided he was going in the potty because his friend Dashiell did. That was it. We’ve had maybe three accidents since.

Tariku is enormously social and is now able to understand that certain behaviors of his were making it hard for him to be around other kids for very long. His desire to have friends has been the best motivation for him to work on the hard stuff- impulse control and emotional regulation.

The other big factor is that we found the right school. In our case, finding the best fit for him meant me being willing to be wrong about my initial instincts. I generally gravitate toward the most unorthodox and progressive institutions, but it turns out that in T’s case, he functions much better in a more structured and traditional environment. He feels safer when he knows who is in charge and exactly what is going to happen. Too much self-direction makes him spin out. We found a structured school that is aware of his issues and is committed to working with him rather than jumping to kick him out for the slightest transgression.

It’s not like we’ve seen miracles, but we’ve seen great progress and healing. The smile on his face when we’re climbing the stairs to his classroom makes my whole day. I could cry when we walk in the door and the other kids shout his name and run up to him. My kid had friends! Friends he doesn’t bite! Lots of them!

Best of all, I’m no longer spending my whole morning sure that I’m about to receive a call to come pick him up. He’s settling in to this school thing and so am I. I’m not sure who’s more thrilled about it.