Friday, September 26, 2008

A Note to Ms. C


Ms. C,

An update on Secondo’s appointment—we met with Dr. [Big Fancy Psychiatrist] at [Big Fancy Hospital] today. No official diagnosis, because she wants to see him a few more times in the upcoming weeks, but in her words, he’s most likely on the autism spectrum.

I know Secondo isn’t so big on the fruit I send to school with him, but I keep trying anyway!


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Open House, Part Two

The thing is, I used to be against preschool.

I just didn’t think it was necessary for my kids. The boys have a nanny, who I’ve known since I was in high school, and I’ve loved and trusted her from day one. The fact that she is from El Salvador and speaks no English was a huge bonus to me. It meant the boys would be exposed mostly to Spanish, and I wanted to keep that going for as long as possible. Plus, preschool for two children would be expensive, and who needs that? I watched several of my friends research schools last spring, tour them all, get on waiting lists and then agonize over the decision. Oh, hell, no, I thought.

But then Secondo qualified for the preschool class at our public school, and P and I started feeling a little bad for Primo. He would be lonely without Secondo, probably. We don’t have too many playdates, so he doesn’t see other kids all that often. And he’s such a cheerful, outgoing child that he would probably love being with other kids at preschool.

So I contacted a preschool. It’s a short walk from the house. That was seriously my only criterion. Primo and I went on a tour, and he walked into the classroom like he owned the place. My guide talked the school up. That’s okay, lady, I thought. As long as you aren’t torturing small children in the basement, really, I’m good. But I just nodded. Since this was just last month, there was a waiting list, so I put Primo on it and crossed my fingers.

I got the call fifteen minutes after Secondo’s open house was over. It was last minute, the director said. There was a parents’ meeting that night, and an open house the next day. I got the wrong information about the class would be in, so we went to the wrong open house. I was bummed—again--when I found out there were three Spanish-speaking parents there, too. Primo will be in the other class, the one for younger children, starting tomorrow. In the end, it doesn’t matter. He loved it. It will be good.

Today was Secondo’s first day. We were going to take the bus, Primo, Secondo, their nanny and I, so I could show her how to get there if she ever needs to pick him up. But the bus was late, so we had to pile into the car and rush over. P was waiting there. We all walked in, and Secondo headed for the toy school bus again. I kissed him goodbye and told him I was leaving. It didn’t seem to register. Then we closed the door behind us and I looked through the window for just a few seconds. When he looked up and seemed to realize I’d left, I quickly moved away so he wouldn't see me. Didn’t you cry? my friends asked me later. I would have. No, I said. I just wanted to get away from there to make life easier for him and his teacher.

P told me his was just fine, if clingy, when he picked him up. Ms. C told him Secondo named several foods and ate a rice cake. That was the summary of the day. I looked through his daily log as soon as I got home from work. Great first day! it read in neat script. Secondo used lots of words! Underneath was a little list: cracker, raisin, more.

That is a good first day.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

One Day Only

I'm mostly shy when it comes to my blog. I haven't even put up a blogroll yet. And I definitely haven't posted any pictures of my kids. So I don't know what came over me when I sent a picture of the boys to The Dad of Looky, Daddy! for his Month of Mastheads.

It's perfect, really. Anyone want to see a picture of the boys? It'll be posted there today, and then it will be gone. Maybe someday I'll decide to post pictures, but not for now.

But I will get my blogroll up. Really.

Open House

“You’d better get a three-ring binder,” the teacher told me a month ago, as we left the IEP meeting. “You’re going to need it—you’ll have that much paperwork.”

The events regarding Secondo the past few months have been a blur. Not because there’s been that much going on, or because things have happened at lightning speed. But it’s all kind of fuzzy in my mind. He was evaluated at home, several months ago. It took an hour. And after that, we got a report in the mail. Even though I read it many, many times, I can only remember a few phrases. Developmental delay. Special education. And the only one that actually scares me a little: Social communicative disorder cannot be ruled out.

Which is how P, Secondo and I finally find ourselves at the open house for the special education preschool class he will be in starting on Monday. It is so bright and welcoming. The children’s names and birthdays are written on construction paper balloons and stapled on the bulletin board. When I see Secondo’s name up there, I am happy and excited and wistful and think I might cry.

Secondo, unfazed, makes a beeline for the toy school buses. His little yellow school bus is his favorite toy at home, and he immediately starts rolling this one back and forth. We parents and the two teachers alternate between making small talk and refereeing squabbles over toys, of which there are many.

“Secondo,” I chide, when he instigates such a squabble. “Tiene que compartir.

The other little boy’s mother stares at me. “¿Hablas español?” she asks me, and then we are chatting away at a speed that English speakers find unnatural.

“Does your boy speak Spanish?” I ask.

She lowers her eyes. “Well, I speak to him in Spanish,” she says. “But he doesn’t talk too much.”

I could kick myself. “I know,” I tell her. “Secondo’s the same way.”

Her little boy is Ramón* and I am deeply bummed to find out that he and Secondo won’t be in the same class. But his mother tells me she’ll be going to the support group meetings for parents. I remember the flier, which is buried deep in a stack of papers and will be until I get that three-ring binder. I hadn’t really given it much thought, but now I decide I’ll go whenever I can.

We get ready to leave. I gather up Secondo so that he’s at eye level with his teacher, who he’s ignored for the past hour. “Secondo,” I say in English, for her benefit. “This is your teacher, Miss C.” Nothing. “Secondo.” I gently turn his face with the palm of my hand. And then he looks at her, really looks at her. And I can tell he doesn’t quite know what to make of this. So I tickle him and get a huge smile.

“He’s a beautiful child,” Miss C. murmurs.

And I’ll bet she says that to all the parents. But he is a beautiful child. I take him by the hand, and we walk to the car. And I’ve come away with such a great feeling.

I can’t wait until Monday.

*Names changed, of course.