Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The effect of Tera...

I’ve been trying to get back to this.  I need to get back to this to help me work through so many of the things that go through my head.  I’ve had so many times when I thought, “I need to just sit down and get this out, this would be a great post…” and then I don’t.  I don’t make the time.  But last night I experienced something that I didn’t want to just share as a Facebook post (which is my alternate go-to for sharing good/bad things).  I want to give this the attention that I think it deserves.

Last night we had the opportunity to go to Tera’s PE Night at her school.  It was a 25 minute long session where the kids were able to show their families what they’ve been doing in PE this year.  We didn’t know for sure it was going to work out because Tera already had swim and my car was finally ready so if we were going to do it, it was going to be a packed night.  But I’m so glad we did it.  

When we walked in the building, one of the first adults we encountered was a maintenance woman from the school who immediately greeted Tera by name.  Tera then of course introduced her to Zoey (usually the first words out of her mouth).  The woman commented on how nice it was that she was here for PE night and seemed genuinely happy to see her.  Immediately after Tera was greeted by yet another adult who knew her (she seemed to be another PE teacher).  She told Tera to show us her locker and that she and Zoey could hang their coats in there and then head to the gym.  There was at least one more adult that we met along the way who of course, greeted Tera.  I’m really starting to wonder if there’s an adult in that building that doesn’t know her.  A few weeks ago one of the secretaries recognized her at swim and told me that of course she knows Tera, Tera brings the mail down to the office every day...

Tera showed us down to the gym and the PE teachers introduced themselves and said that the kids should go to their stations and show us what they do there.  We would then rotate stations so that everyone would see all of them.  Two of the three teachers greeted Tera and gave her her instructions.  As we moved through the stations I was able to talk to the two teachers.  Individually, they both commented on how much they love having Tera in class.  They told me how much she loves going to PE (even so much as to say she goes potty super fast just so she can get back to the activity), she loves participating, and that “she is a bright spot” in their day.  They commented on how athletic she is and multiple times said how much of a joy she is to see everyday.  

I cannot even begin to express how much that meant to me.  Trust me when I say I know how much that sweet face can light up a room and also your day.  Her smile can melt your heart and her hugs can change your whole mindset.  And I think these teachers have experienced all of that.  

Then, during one of the rotations Tera’s principal came up to give her a high-five.  Tera responded with, “Hi K!” He then told me that he and Tera have a great time every day and that when she sees him, she always yells, “Hi K!” (his last name is a little tough for kids and one of the funniest parts of Tera’s speech is that she typically forgoes the “Mr” and “Mrs” part of her elders’ names).  Once again, there was another adult in the building who has developed a relationship with her and seems to truly enjoy seeing her (though I’m sure he was a little doubtful when he had to call me during the first week of school to discuss an incident on the bus).  

During one of the rotations her teacher let her use the microphone to announce the next shift and explained that Tera really likes using the microphone to help (shocking).  But as the event came to a close, as happens frequently with Tera, the transition of having to leave was upsetting.  She was also tired.  Tom and I both tried various things to get her going but she was on the verge of a meltdown.  Tom took over while I brought Zoey back to our coats and as she got closer she still struggled.  The one teacher that had greeted us at the door tried to help with the promise of a water bottle, which almost worked, but the she lost it again.  Finally her teachers came back in to clean up and they offered to let her use the microphone one last time to say goodbye.  They didn’t react to her crying or screaming, they simply made the offer and fortunately it was enough to bring her out of it.  She screamed “BYE!” into it, and we headed out.  

While the event only lasted 25 minutes, it left me feeling incredibly proud of Tera and incredibly happy to know that these are the people she gets to spend her day with.  She is in an ideal set up that really seems to be working for her.  She’s in a special education classroom with only four other students.  However, she gets to do circle time, library, PE, lunch, and recess with all the other kindergartners.  She gets the attention she needs in her small class, and the experiences she needs, and the other kids need, in the other areas.  And I can pretty safely say, she has already left her mark on the adults that get to work with her.  I know she can be a handful to work with, but the rewards that come from working with her are immense.