Face of hope

Face of hope
Courtesy: TIffany Kay Photography

Monday, November 10, 2014

First Day!

Today was Meagan's first day of school! It was actually the first day for all the girls (except Maura who will finish out her pre-k 5's where she is currently).  Everyone was excited but a little nervous this morning naturally.  I decided it would be best to drop Meagan off first since she gets so upset when each of her sisters leaves during the morning for school.  That way she could get settled while I walked the other girls to their new classrooms.

The principal walked us to each classroom starting with Meagan's.  Meagan's teacher came and greeted us at the door and welcomed us inside.  She showed us the hook where Meagan could hang her bag with her name on it.  We had packed her some diapers, a bottle, pacifiers and a few dry snacks if she would eat with the other kids.  (I give her a full tube feed before and after school so they don't have to access her gtube there just yet).  Meagan didn't cry.  She looked around, seemed curious at all the little people her same age, and started to ask "what's this? ... what's this?"   I made a point to not stand around forever because I knew she would be a little upset when I left - afterall she's been literally at my hip for over 3 years, even through hospital stays..etc.. I never leave her.  So I gave her a big hug and kiss and told her to have so much fun with her teacher and new friends.  She started to fuss a little bit as we left, but nothing unexpected and nothing her older sisters hadn't done on their first days.

Next the principal walked us to Reilly's classroom - her teacher is the grandmother of 20 and comes from a big family and loves history.  Nice but very strict and structured - perfect match for Reilly.  Then we went to the opposite hall where Kaitlin walked into her classroom - her teacher is very sweet and soft spoken just like Kaitlin and she seemed fine to just go on in and get settled.  Anna was the last to be dropped off - she was probably most nervous because she is a "mommy's girl" but as soon as we walked in her new teacher gave her a big hug and told her all the fun things they were going to do.  I knew she would be just fine especially with that extra love and hugs as she made the adjustment.

Maura and I left the school and went about our day.  She headed off to her normal preschool schedule and I was (very oddly I may add..) "kid-less" for a few hours! I intended to get a lot done, but instead ended up at the doctor to address a lingering cold I have been fighting over the last few weeks.  The doctor was very nice and fit me in - within a half hour I was walking out with a bronchitis and early pneumonia diagnosis and some medication to help everything turn around and start healing.  By the time I left, it was the perfect time to go pick up Meagan.  I was nervous but excited to see her.  I knew she had probably done great, but it's still always nervewracking wondering how they did on their first day.

As I arrived at the school, I walked in to the front and the teacher was wheeling Meagan down the hallway in her chair.  Along side her was another little boy who also leaves early in the day.  When Meagan saw me, of course, her eyes lit up and her little legs and arms got very stiff with excitement.  She said "Mommy!" and I made my way to her and gave her a great big hug.  The teacher was so nice and stayed for several minutes to chat with me about Meagan's day - the things she did well with and the things she struggled with.  Basically, she had done very well and had an amazing day! Towards the end of the few hours there, the teacher told me she started to get a little fussy for me, but again, that was expected.  Even the music class Meagan attends (and LOVES) required a good three weeks for her to become acclimated - and I am there with her for that.  So this will take a few weeks of good routine, getting to know her sweet teachers more, and also realizing that everyday, I will pick her up and take her with me.

Meagan gives a thumbs up for first day of school

Meagan's first report - it will be so helpful to get these everyday to see where she's
 growing and where we need to have reinforcements.

The teacher was very sweet and said they had so enjoyed having Meagan in the class.  She pointed to the little boy and said "Isaac."  The teacher said that Meagan had been calling some of the children by name already and loved to talk.  (No kidding! :) )  She explained that Isaac was a speech student and usually didn't say much when he would leave school.  His dad came in to get him and Meagan put her hand up and said "Bye Isaac.."... in a very muffled voice, the sweet little boy said "Bye".. Meagan's teacher lit up with joy and told us that typically, he doesn't say goodbye all the time or on demand and how wonderful that he had answered Meagan.  It was awesome to see how even in just a few short hours, these kids had really impacted each other and helped each other with their own weaknesses while at the same time bringing out their strengths.  I'm very excited for what this program will mean for Meagan - how it will help her expand her horizons and get her through some of her sensory and transitional struggles we have to deal with as a family - but also how she will impact other kids.  Not to mention her OT, PT, Speech and other helpful therapies that will positively impact her development. We all know Meagan isn't shy about telling you what she thinks!

As for the other girls, they all had a great day.  I waited at the bus stop and off came 3 smiling girls bubbling with excitement to tell me about their first day.  Anna told me she loved her class, the teacher and everything about it - but that she still had to do work.  I laughed - I told her "It's not a vacation Anna, it's school!" She told me all about having fun at PE, making new friends, and riding the bus.  Kaitlin was just as excited - telling me about all the fun she had chatting at lunch and reading at school.  I was happy to hear this because previously, she had been told she probably had a reading issue and had been very down about her reading.  I wasn't convinced as I saw her read and comprehend well at home, but could not find a way to light that fire again.  Apparently, this transition worked.  Kaitlin had reading homework and not only did what was assigned, but did it 3 and 4 times over. She then called daddy and read to him over the phone and continued to read 3-4 more books throughout the evening.  I was so happy to see this as she had really been lacking confidence in her reading prior to today.  When Reilly got off the bus, she was happy but she looked awfully grey to me.  As we settled in at home, I could tell she wasn't feeling well and asked her about her day.  I was concerned she had a bad day but soon after she started talking, I realized the poor kid was sick.  I took her temperature and she had a fever.  I called the local pediatrician where you can easily walk in and they said they would see her. As soon as we walked in she was very tired, still feverish, and ended up getting sick all over the floor.  As soon as that happened my first thought was strep (because classically, Reilly always gets headache, fever and vomiting).... The doctor came in and agreed and ran the test -  Sure enough - strep! Ugh, poor kid! As the meds kicked in later tonight and she rested more and the fever started to drop, she started to light up more about school.  She actually enjoyed her new math book and had started to understand a lot of the problems she wasn't previously understanding.  She explained that she liked her teacher and that her teacher loved history - which is a huge interest of Reilly so she was very happy to learn they would be doing projects on explorers soon.  She said she hadn't made any friends just yet, but I told her not to worry - that it would come with time - especially not feeling herself the first day with getting sick! She is also excited about a big reading project where they can complete reading several books for prizes and other awards and has already asked me to sign her up for Drama Club - something she desperately missed when it left our other school.  I'm excited for her to go back on Wednesday - this time feeling 100% better - and able to really enjoy her day!

Transitions can be tough but we are seeing all the signs that things are going well.  We even got phone calls from the girls' new teachers today asking how their days went and thanking us for letting our girls be in their classes this year.  I was really blown away by that gesture.  I'm so proud of all the girls today!  Each of them did a great job at staying positive, trying their best at their schoolwork, and opening themselves up to new friends.  I know how hard that is - I was a military kid who moved a lot and often found myself in those "new kid" shoes.  The good thing is I'm much stronger for it, and met some amazing people along the way.  I see the same happening for my girls and it makes me happy that we are finally settling in to our "new normal."  As I was cleaning up tonight, I found a note from Anna that really brought it all together:

"Dear Mommy, I had a great day at school.  Mrs. R is super nice.  She doesn't give a lot of work.  I made two friends today.  We were going to play monkey in the middle but it was time to line up.  It was fun riding the bus. I love school."

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