Readers of this blog know, that although this blog bears her name, Kate is not the only focus of our journey. Just as important is big sister Grace, who is the captain of Team Kate. Grace, at five years old, already understands that Kate needs a little more help day to day and she relishes her role as captain. She prefers to stay out of the limelight, so to speak, and will 'grace' this blog only when I consult her. The same will be true for Kate when she can make that decision. I asked Grace if I could write about her first day of school and she was eager to tell her story, so here it is.
Before I begin Grace's story I will back track a little and remind you that Grace has a lot of anxiety, in general. Starting school is bringing that out in her and the past few weeks have been challenging to say the least.
Now, if you will, imagine the quintessential Kindergarten teacher, with her gentle voice, and patient demeanor; the kind of teacher that students and parents adore; like Miss Honey from Roald Dahl's Matilda. Yes, her. Well, Grace has TWO of her. She has two perfect Kindergarten teachers that cannot wait to teach her. She is a lucky girl and we are thrilled for her.
The evening before Grace's first day of school we sent Kate to spend the night at her grandparent's house. This was a huge help in a couple of ways. Her grandmother could take her to her speech and occupational therapy appointments for us and we could focus all of our energy on Grace. We asked Grace where she would like to go for a special supper. She chose a Japanese restaurant (it could just as easily been McDonalds) and off we went to meet her aunt, uncle and cousin. She was especially thrilled with her dessert.
After dinner we went home for a quiet night and tried to keep things as low key as possible. We read, "The Night Before Kindergarten" and poems from Jack Prelutsky's, "A Pizza the Size of the Sun" and sent her off to bed with constant reminders that she will be fine and school will be a lot of fun.
She went to bed easily. Hmmmm?
She crawled into bed with us sometime after 4am. She never does that. She was nervous or excited or more likely both. When morning finally came she wanted her dress on immediately. She ate pancakes and starting worrying about missing the bus. She wanted to go the bus stop as soon as possible. It was thirty minutes before her bus was due but she wanted to go. I stalled her for a little longer and then eventually gave in and took her over. She didn't say much as she waited with her friends for the bus. Her cousin came down to ride the bus with her. I am sure this is the reason she got on the bus without tears. He is a big Grade 5 boy and he made her feel safe. Once she was off on the bus, we, along with the other parents, raced the bus to school so we could meet her getting off of the bus.
When she got off the bus she immediately told me that she would not be going back on the bus unless I was driving it. Pretty unlikely since my husband won't let me drive his work truck because he doesn't 'trust me with it', yet. We walked to her classroom and she clung to me. She didn't speak but she didn't cry either. She held my hand and looked down. Her teachers gently guided her to her chair and she allowed me to walk away. I'm not going to lie, before I left I whispered in her ear: "Grace, if you do this I will buy you the biggest stuffed animal I can find today."
What? It worked.
She did it. She went to school all day long and I don't thinks she shed a single tear.
She told me she loves her teachers, she loves her classroom AND she gets to play on the playground every single day. I could not be more relieved.
She fell asleep within minutes of arriving home and I let her. She is one tired little girl. The day could not have gone better. I worried a lot for nothing. Those that know Grace will appreciate how brave she was today. We are so proud of her.
Grace and Kate's mom. (Shanell)