Finn is going on the Kindergarten field trip tomorrow and I’m a nervous wreck! It’s really not that big of a deal in “normal kid” land. They get on a bus. They drive to Storybook Land (the world’s creepiest amusement park, in my opinion). They ride rides. They drive home.
Except in Finn-land, things are never that cut and dry. We had to prep him vigorously for this event. I explained every minute detail to the best of my ability. I have had several back and forth emails with his inclusion teacher regarding his participation. I explained to her how important it is to me that Finn ride the bus with all the other kids and get to be in a chaperoned group with all the other kids. I didn’t want him feeling like he could just walk around the park with me the whole day. To other kids, this is just another day at school. For Finn, this is a whole learning experience. Thankfully, Mrs. M gets it (and gets me!) She was kind enough to tell me ahead of time who would be in his group. I’m so thrilled he has a group!
I had to prepare him to ride a bus that is not “his” bus. He asked, “Is it Mrs. M’s bus?” I said, “No, it’s just a school bus.” He said, “What’s a school bus?” (I guess, in his head, it’s either “my bus” or it’s not.) I have to be sure and pack his noise cancelling headphones in case the bus is too loud or overwhelming. I asked Mrs. M to see if he can sit in the front of the bus, away from a potentially crowded, noisy and altogether overstimulating situation.
I explained that once he gets there he will be with the three other boys (all boys he knows and loves, thanks to Mrs. M) and I will meet them there and walk around with his group.
We then Googled Storybook Land images, so he could see exactly what to expect. He loves to scroll through pictures on the IPad, so we did this for a while before bed. He was especially happy when he saw they had a Lighthouse there because he is very interested in lighthouses right now. He and Joe have been on a “Lighthouses of New Jersey tour” for the past two summers. The Lighthouse and the train got him pretty excited.
He seemed pretty prepared for the day and I was feeling good.
As I lay with him before bed, I said, “Finn, if you start to feel nervous or upset tomorrow, just ask me for a break and we can walk away.” He said, “Or can I ask you for a squeeze?” (he likes deep pressure massage and big bear hugs.) I said, “Of course.” Then he said, “But I’m really nervous about all the people.” I said, “What people?” He said, “All the people at Storybook Land.” I tried my best to assure him that we would only be walking with our group of kids and he wouldn’t have to be with “all the people,” but I’m not sure I convinced him.
I’m not sure I convinced myself.
How do you reassure a kid who doesn’t like to be around crowds that there wouldn’t be any crowds at an amusement park? Obviously, I can’t. I have to just hope that he can verbalize when he is feeling scared or overwhelmed.
My biggest fear (for tomorrow, not in my life) is that he won’t be able to even walk in the park, which has happened to us twice at Sesame Place. Or that he will have a meltdown for some unforeseen thing and his group will go on without us. I’m afraid, as I have been ever since Finn started special ed, that they will see him as “different” and not want to play with him anymore.
I’m hoping that Kindergarteners aren’t that cruel.
I just have to hope for the best. I can’t worry about the what ifs. (That’s what I blog for!) Things are going well for him right now, so I have to stay positive (right?) Keep your fingers crossed for me! We’ll see how it goes!