I could have thought: well, Joy has been having some pretty rough therapy sessions lately, especially in the mornings -- and these are with familiar people, in familiar territory. How about we make that the bar for first-week expectations. If it's better than those sessions, we'll be doing fine. Just get her acquainted with the new staff, probably mostly in pull-out situations because the classroom is also new and the number of classmates will likely be overwhelming. If she gets through the days without us being called in for a rescue, that'll be a victory.
If I had gone in with that mindset? Today was a victory. Joy was dry-eyed and in reasonably good spirits when I picked her up, and has been pretty happy this evening too. She was dressed in the same clothes she went in with, and had no bruises on her forehead (though she did have some teeth-bruises on her knees, some of which I saw her make.)
I did not go in with that mindset.
This was the first day of kindergarten, after all! My last baby's first day, and we'd prepared soooo much.
- Delaying kindergarten a year.
- Kindergarten practice this past winter and spring.
- Visits this month from Joy's new staffers both at home and at daycare.
- Taking Joy to the school to meet her new classroom-teacher and spend time in the classroom, and again with her early-ed teacher from last year, just to get into the halls once more.
- Creating an extra document on top of the IEP, sort of an update to the present-level but all full of tips and tricks on what goes into Joy's day -- and then meeting with pretty much her whole team on Monday for over an hour to go over it.
- Sending extra goodies -- nap tent, a bag full of stimmies, special bag lunch of favorite treats
I'd set the bar way too high.
We had parking problems. The playground was noisy and overwhelming, and Joy got upset. Began to build a reputation right away for kicking other kids. The classes got lined up late, and we escaped into the building ahead of them with her special ed teacher. But we couldn't stay in the classroom, because the morning snacks were all laid out on plates with a nametag for each kid's place. The teacher and I had talked about whether this would be a problem, I over-optimistically had said to go ahead and try his usual way, and he'd kindly set out the animal crackers we'd contributed so Joy would be sure to like the first day's snack. She liked it all right -- wanted to eat immediately. Ramped up the upset when she couldn't. We had to exit the classroom and go to the special ed teacher's office/playspace to start the day.
As we were trying to get Joy calmed down, she whacked me in the nose. And I started bawling. Could not stop. Haven't been in this bad a shape since one wretched incident not long after she was diagnosed (will have to tell you all about that one sometime). Just as I'd start to get a handle on myself, I'd hear the other kids in the class singing happily together, or Joy would pull a self-injury attempt, and I'd start up again.
I probably should have left sooner than I did, but I was there long enough that Joy actually did get calmed down and was sharing some nice moments with the spec. ed teacher. I guess I still hadn't ditched the expectations, because I then ventured to say that it might be nice if Joy could at least share snack with the class. So we went out to check things out.
Alas, they were not yet ready to eat snack. And the classroom teacher -- not having seen Joy come in -- had marked her absent and had to go change the designation. And we couldn't deny Joy the snack at that point, so she inhaled her crackers, demanded more (because since nobody else was eating, there were the rest of those full plates), and got all wound up again when she couldn't have more. Back to the pull-out room she went. And I lit out of the building with a swollen face and the ugly-cry just welling up all over, and called in sick to work.
That's our victory, there. If I'd gone in with the right set of expectations and all.