Saturday, September 6, 2008

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.


Sadia said...

Your description of the event itself was heart-warming, but the whole situation sounds a little scary. I don't know how I'd cope in your place. I know that when our girls were in the NICU, we stepped up to the challenge, but we haven't hit any real challenges since then.

Snickollet said...

Oh, Keen, so many things about this made me cry--the beauty of your writing, the connection you made with another parent, how wonderful the classroom sounds.

I'll be thinking of you tomorrow.

Miss you.