It was a beautiful winter day, temperatures just below freezing, a couple of inches of new snow making everything look very white again, just a few lazy flakes floating down.
I got Joy all dressed up in coat, snowpants, boots, L-Bow mittens... and backpack! Joy and I showed up at 1pm at the back door of the school where the kindergarteners enter. Her occupational therapist was waiting for us, to take us just a few feet into the hall to Joy's new locker. It was all prepped with a laminated name-plate just for her, decorated with a dragonfly that matches the one on her new purple backpack.
Have I mentioned yet that I love Joy's itinerant school-district team?
Getting all those wraps off and into the locker is quite a task, but since there's no crush of kiddos in the hall at 1pm, Joy has plenty of time to work on it.
Next step was a hand-in-hand trek through the halls, up and down stairs (deliberately the long way around for practice' sake) to the OT/PT room. Which has a swing hanging from a sturdy hook in the ceiling, oh bliss, oh Joy! First she went swinging in a stretchy-sling-swing that enveloped her entire body -- something she hasn't had access to for several years. It felt so good, she kept signing for more. Eventually we lured her out with a "first-then" statement and the opportunity to play with a little mirror while the OT changed the swing to a platform.
I had intended to head home after I got Joy settled, but it was such fun seeing how this all worked that I ended up staying the whole time.
After a whole lot of swinging and a little bit of table work, it was time to switch to the next staffer, Joy's special-educator, who took her to meet the gym teacher and then into the gym. Which was totally empty, so we could shut all the doors and run and play at will. Much delight!
The gym time ended with the need for a diaper change, so I got to see the facilities for that too. Fortunately there's another girl in a class on the kindergarten end of the building who already has a changing room set up in the accessible stall of the girls' room, so no new arrangements need be made for Joy.
During the diaper change I got to go talk to Rose's teacher while their class was out to recess, lining up for next Tuesday when Rose is person-of-the-week and I'll come to visit. I don't quite know what we'll do but now we know when and how long we'll do it... and that the time will finish off with a visit from Joy at the end of her "school day." It will be a splendid opportunity to make introductions, have more kids recognize Joy and be able to look out for her and greet her.
After the conversation, I joined Joy and her teacher in a nice windowed room at the back of one of the kindergarten classrooms. I was expecting it would be a place for one-on-one, but was delighted to see that the kindergarteners were having a free-choice time and that three other little girls had chosen to play back there with the new girl and her staffer! They were so sweet and matter-of-fact and pleased to take turns with Joy stacking pegs, and bring her play-food to pretend-eat, and pop bubbles with her, and sing "Wheels on the Bus." It was pretty obvious that these were kids who were used to differences, and were eager to tout their own diversity as well... one of the three made sure to let us know that "I'm Korean -- I mean, I'm half Korean." The whole encounter was just so sweet and accepting!
Then we got wraps back on, and went out to play on the playground for the remaining half hour before the end of the school day. During that time, two gym classes on snowshoes came and went (don't you wish YOUR school taught snow-shoeing for winter gym?) The gym teacher called out to Joy as they went past, and so did a couple of Rose's friends.
Joy was pretty tired out, and a little out of sorts at dinner, but managed to turn on at least some energy for her barista-dude in the evening.
What a spectacular first day of school. We are so blessed.