Now that it is officially back to school season and the freedom of summer has started to fade, parents all around are planning for the first day of school.  Families are trying on clothes to see what can be saved and what must be donated in order to make room for new school clothes. Moms are piling into SUVs, driving the neighborhood with a tight grip on the required supply list and frantically searching for that hard to find set of pastels!  This my friends, is the ultimate treasure hunt!

Last minute doctor’s appointments, school supplies, and afterschool snacks…all of these items start to wind up on the “to do” lists of parents with school age children!

Every parent I know has a strong opinion about school starting back up.  One camp is thrilled that the days of “I’m bored!” will finally be over!  They will have hours away from the house and will return tired and socially filled.  The other camp dreads the return of the alarm clock and yearns for a few more days of a slower paced life.

If you are a special needs parent, you have all of these thoughts…and more.

In my house, there is little excitement about new clothes or school supplies.  We do not have a special “back to school” shopping day as I had imagined, most of our shopping is done on-line and there is little enthusiasm as the boxes arrive on our front steps.  Trying on the selected clothes must be done when spirits are high or everything will be sent back.  There is usually some disappointment because of an itchy material or an unwanted detail that is impossible to ignore.

In an attempt to try to limit this pain, my son insists that his old backpack, coat, lunch pail and shoes are fine for this year.  I try to get past my preconceived ideas of “good mom duties” and let him win with the coat, backpack, and lunch box…but I can’t give on the new shoes.  These are a necessity since my son’s feet have grown to match almost my shoe size over the summer.

In addition to the physical preparation, our house is starting the mental preparation.  We have started enforcing our 8:30 bedtime and have began to remind him that the outside world does not know (or care) about Mine Craft in the same way that he does.  When I remind him of this, I must do it when I am at my best and not a tired, frustrated moment, otherwise my delivery comes off as sarcastic and he takes my suggestions as judgment.

He insists that I’m wrong! “You know people want to hear about Mine Craft at school!” I try and explain that there are probably some good times for the tutorial sessions but that science and math and other subjects will take precedent within the classroom walls.  He shrugs his shoulders and makes a face as though I don’t know what goes on in a classroom…um, yeah.

My stomach begins to twist and turn when I think about the new teacher.  I’m sure that I am more nervous about it then my son at this point.  A good teacher, a caring teacher, an understanding teacher can make the difference to my son…to my family.

We don’t need the focus to be on his struggles.  We know them!

We don’t need to be told the quirky things that he did.  We see them!

We don’t need the daily reminders of the ways that she goes out of her way to accommodate him.  We appreciate them!  But there is a part of me that has to jump to the defensive and say…

I know how hard your job is because I do it too!

Last year’s teacher was a gift.  She understood the small changes that could be made to make his day more comfortable, more enjoyable and therefore more valuable.  She realized that she was not there just to house him but to encourage and push him in ways that only a supportive teacher can do with my son.  She got him!

I have loved the summer days with my son, but I have to prepare him for school and to prepare myself for this transition.

How do you mentally prepare yourself and your family for the new school year?

5 thoughts on “Preparing

  1. Oh boy, did your post bring up lots of feelings from school years past. My special needs child is a bit older than yours so the issues are a little different. Still, though, there is definitely a different kind of emotional preparation that goes on here than what goes on in many other homes. Always, there is the wonder whether the teachers will be open to our son and appropriately accommodating and understanding. Now we try to teach our boy to advocate more for himself and accept that which he is unable to change. We still try to adjust the sleep schedule to get ready for the new school year, but more of it now is reminding both of our kids what they ought to do to get ready for their new schedule. And then we have to back off and let them decide to do it or not. It makes me very anxious watching how it will unfold; yet, I’m hopeful they will learn more and more how to do this for themselves. Wishing you a smooth transition!

    • Thank you so much for visiting and commenting!
      It is always interesting to hear from parents with older children and how much support is still required. I think it will be really hard for me to back off…even though I know that it is very expected and appropriate! Being that I am an elementary teacher, I am trying to educate my colleagues about the stress that spec needs families feel at the beginning of the school year 🙂
      Thanks again for visiting!

  2. I am definitely in the second camp. We have more summer around these parts and I am doing my best to enjoy every moment of it.
    Good luck with those school preparations. I hope it will be a good year for TBP.

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