Tomorrow is the the first day of school for Michael. Like every other year, he is nervous. It doesn’t matter that he knows his teacher’s name, the room number, knows some of the friends in the class, as well as the fact that he has been going to this school since he was little. The first day of school is like the first day of anything for Michael, hard and a little terrifying and it takes some getting used to it before he sails through it like the champion he is!
When he was little there was crying and anxiety type behaviors like hiding behind me the morning of school waiting for the bus. Now that he is older there is talk of not wanting to go to school, being nervous, and acting out with silly behaviors, outrageous and below age level. Way below. He seems to settle back into twelve year old status though when he gets it out of his system, but the anxiety response starts things off. It is easier now that we can talk things through and I can reason with him reminding him how he tackled last year’s stress and came out a winner. He believes me, but the nerves are there. Still, we are making progress.
We saw Michael’s Educator today and she had lots of great things to say about Michael’s progress. As usual, she also gave us tools to use as a family and for Michael to use. We talked about the ups and downs of summer, and it was great to see Michael doing most of the talking to her. He is learning how to express himself more and more, and I am taking a backseat. I hear how he is starting to understand himself, and the next step will be learning how to advocate for himself not using his challenges as an excuse, but as a way that he views life differently and needs to understand how others see things differently too. I was proud of him as I have been a lot lately, the young man he is becoming, the child struggling to learn new ways of coping, and the human being that wants to be understood, be loved and understand what is happening around him.
Advice I can give to all parents with exceptional kids starting back at school is this; Love them. Listen to them. Prepare for changes in advance. Be ready for last minute meltdowns which may look like silliness, aggression or unpredictable behavior. These are all signs of a child struggling to put together change and what that means. It is up to us, the adults, the caregivers, to offer calm, predictable advice, not overwhelm them, and make sure they are ready to face things one step at a time. They and you will survive. 😉 Until next time.