Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Heat Wave, and Kind Words

 Buds on our neighbor's poplar tree.

Goodness, it felt like summer today.  It was around 80F, sunny and clear.  It's almost bedtime, and Safety Guy just went out back to look at the stars.  He likes to do that on warm nights - sit on the swing and get some space, look at the sky and enjoy the night sounds.  I think I might go out myself in a few minutes and enjoy the evening.  It's a good night to sleep with the windows cracked open, listening to the frogs and the breeze.  I haven't been sleeping well; I could use a solid night's rest.

Safety Guy has had a good week so far (all two school days of it).  I hope this trend continues for a while.  One of my least favorite aspects of raising a child with special needs is the anticipation of negative news from school.  Obviously that wasn't an issue when we home schooled - I was teacher, principal, nurse, cafeteria lady, and phys. ed. instructor all in one, and getting news (good or not so good) wasn't a problem.  Now, though, I find handing over my son's day to day education has come with the unwelcome side effect of feeling like I'm always waiting for bad news, always waiting for the other shoe to drop, always waiting for the "BUT" statement that will mitigate his progress.  That's very depressing and uncomfortable for me to deal with.

Safety Guy has had some rough episodes at school lately, times where he's lost his temper, made poor choices, fallen out with friends, been rude to his teachers and classmates, and struggled academically.  He has a good teacher, a VERY good teacher, but she's not one to praise him to me.   She's a very no-nonsense, cut to the chase kind of person, which she probably HAS to be with a class full of 7th graders with educational, social, and behavioral needs to work with.   I think the fact that I work in the school means that it's easy for her to catch me when there is an issue, which is both good and bad for both of us.  It's good for her to keep me on top of everything with him when he's having trouble; it's bad because I don't anticipate hearing good news from her (and I'm sure she doesn't like being the bearer of bad tidings any more than I like hearing them).  Instead, I'm hesitant to interact with her unless I need to ask her a question or give her information now.  We've had a number of quick conversations in the school hallways that have started with her saying something like, "Hi, about your son. . . ."  And I hate that.  It's never GOOD news when a conversation starts that way.  I would love to hear her say, "Safety Guy did the coolest thing today!"  Or, "Safety Guy had a great interaction with his friend so-and-so."  Or even, "Safety Guy worked really hard to get ready for that test, and he did really well."  Or just, "Hi, Safety Guy is having a great day, and I hope you are too." 

A tidbit of encouragement would go a long way for me.  It doesn't take much to make me happy.  I really, really appreciate it when an adult who interacts with our son takes the time to build him up and praise him, and then tell us about his successes.  One teacher I love at our son's school is his study hall teacher.  (She's also the Home and Careers teacher, and hopefully SG will have room for her class in his schedule next year - she's WONDERFUL.)  She went out of her way to get to know me when I subbed for her early in the school year, and she told me about how she has tried to help Safety Guy get along in the study hall.  We've talked several times since then, and she still has positive things to say about him even when he's having a rough time, and she obviously has his back.  She watches out for his interactions with kids who may pick on him, redirects him when he gets flustered or upset, encourages him to use his time well, and incidentally gives this often tired, sometimes discouraged Mom a ray of sunshine with her gracious words.  Thanks, Mrs. B.!!