School starts tomorrow and I’ve been a nervous wreck all day.
It doesn’t help that Finn just cried himself to sleep saying, “I hate school!” Of course, Charlie swooped in and tried to tell him all the great things about school. Most of which, Finn couldn’t care less.
School is an entirely different place for Finn than it is for Charlie. Social situations come much easier to Charlie. In fact, we made an impromptu visit to Charlie’s school this afternoon (to settle my nerves, not Charlie’s) and I asked him if he knew the principal and he said, “Yea, she’s really nice”– Charlie thinks everyone is his friend. And he’s usually right.
Finn thinks the exact opposite.
School is a big, confusing place to Finn. People are loud and unpredictable.
We went in to meet Finn’s teachers today. He will be spending about 80% of his day in the general education classroom with his aide. His teachers and his aide are awesome! They fawned over him. He, of course, ran off and tried to pick up his brother. Every time they tried to talk to him, he made rude remarks (Finn’s defense mechanism).
Last year, I spent a lot of time making sure Finn would feel as included as possible. He wanted to be in Mrs. M’s room more last year, so I wanted to make sure he felt like he was included right from the start. I put a lot of time into making sure this happened, so I’m hoping it goes well.
He did so amazing in Mrs. M’s room last year. He was well-behaved. He earned student of the month TWICE! He even had some boys that he liked. But starting a new school year feels like starting all over again at ground zero. There’s always the chance for Finn to get back into old habits. When he’s in this negative place, it’s easy for his anxiety to bring on problem behavior.
And then there’s the added stress of THE BUS!
At the end of last year, Finn proclaimed that he wanted to ride the bus with Charlie. For two years, Finn has ridden the special needs bus. There were a few aides on the bus and only a few other passengers. And it came right to the front door (which was awesome!) The only problem was that Charlie wasn’t on that bus. Charlie rode the regular ed bus. You know, the loud, obnoxious, raucous regular ed bus. The bus that even Charlie (“friend to all”) had trouble with bullies on. And now Finn wanted to ride it.
I labored over it and labored over it. I talked to him about it a million different ways. But he insisted he wanted to be with his brother. Charlie is moving to a different school this year, so the bus ride would be the only chance for them to see each other. Finn was very anxious about not having Charlie in his building anymore. This seemed an adequate remedy. (Except that he had to ride the regular ed bus.)
I had separate conversations with Charlie about it. He knew Finn riding the bus would mean that he could no longer sit with his best friend. He wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but he was willing to make the sacrifice for Finn. His number one concern was Finn’s behavior. He wanted to make SURE there was going to be an aide on the bus. He couldn’t “handle Finn by himself.” I assured him there would be.
Now here we are. The night before the first day of school and I am second guessing every decision I fought tooth and nail for. Charlie is upset that he can’t sit with his best friend. Finn doesn’t want to go to school at all. And my stomach hurts.
I was lying with Finn at bedtime trying to quell his fears. I think he could tell I was all smoke and mirrors. I tried walking him through his day, but he had a complaint about everything I brought up. I asked him where he wanted to eat lunch. (I had arranged that he would eat lunch in the self contained classroom, since the cafeteria is a major cause of stress for him). He asked, “where are all the other kids eating?” I said, “In the cafeteria.” He said, “Oh.” I told him he could go to the cafeteria if he wanted. He said, “No.” I said, “You can eat in Ms. B’s room.” He said, “No. I just won’t eat lunch.” My heart sank. I said, “Well, you think about it.” He said, “No, you think about it.”
I think his brain is on shut down. He is so worked up about everything that he can’t make a decision about anything. That’s kind of how I feel, too.
I’m hoping tomorrow goes better than I anticipate. Because it seems the only one who is excited is Charlie!
Maybe it will all feel better in the morning.
Let’s hope so!