Like many families, we are still adjusting to the back-to-school routine and procedures. In our house, we do not have a steady climb of comfort and acceptance about school. Instead, we experience a forward four steps, backwards three steps type of transition.
As part of this September reality, my son was asking a lot of “why” questions. He has been struggling with many of the restrictions that students face at school.
“Why do I have to wear ‘real’ shoes instead of my flip-flops? I’m really the most comfortable when I am wearing those instead of my stiff, tight shoes that give me blisters on both toes?!”
“Why can’t I eat when I’m hungry? I don’t always eat enough at lunch because I am distracted by the crowd in the lunchroom and then I’m hungry later.”
“Why can’t I go to the bathroom when my body tells me that I have to go? I don’t always have to go when it’s time?”
The hard part about that last question is that we have always told him to listen to his body and to go when necessary. The funny part was when he correctly used air quotes as he said “it’s time.”
While I heard my son talk, I felt for him. It is hard to be one of many and follow a set schedule that may or may not fit you. Because I am a teacher, I could explain the reasons for these unpopular rules.
The flip-flops ban is due to safety.
The bathroom and hunger ones both have to do with the logistics of trying to have 24 students all ready to receive instruction at the same time. I gave a recent example where I was trying to teach a lesson and many students wanted drinks. Good or bad…that is a reality of a brick and mortar school.
There was a long pause after I shared the reasons why he had to follow a set schedule. I predicted that he was coming up with arguments against my explanations. If I waited longer, I knew that I would begin to hear other things that make him uncomfortable at school.
Before he had the chance to take this conversation down an unhappy road, I shared my own frustration with my schedule. I told him that I have certain times of the day that I can use the bathroom and I shared the long list of times where I could not. “I am often forced to ignore my body. If I feel like I need to go to the bathroom at 10:15, I have to wait because the kids do not leave the room for first recess until 10:30.”
I went on to explain that I have to eat lunch when the kids eat…even when I’m not super hungry because we eat at 11:00 am which feels SO early. I also shared that I have subjects that I have to teach at certain times of the days and for specific lengths of time.
As I spoke, he listened. I could see his brain working overtime.
“We have to do what others have learned to do, my son. We have to adapt.” I held his hand as I spoke and he listened. “We will adapt, but it might take us a bit longer.”
He thought for a few seconds before he added, “It’s kinda frustrating, isn’t it?” He got up and went into the kitchen to find the iPad.
I watched him walk through the dining room and thought to myself…Yes it is!