Ryan is a little over one month into a school year that has included some big changes: a new school, new teachers, new aide, switching classes for every subject, lockers, and the bus. Time for an update on a few things in school, and in life.
Ryan has adjusted remarkably well. As we do every year, we set up a meeting with the entire child study team and his teachers, therapists, and aide a couple weeks into the school year. They all gave glowing reports. He is attentive. He participates. He works well with others. He is prepared. He does well on quizzes and assignments.
Socially is of course more of a struggle. Ryan had some concerns about other kids being mean to him, but they have been unfounded. He remains friends with one ore two boys from his elementary school, and has been willing to give other boys a chance — provided they like sports (his new friend-worthiness test).
The biggest issue, by far, of the school year has been the bus. It came late. It didn’t come at all. Veronica and I made many phone calls. So did other parents. The route was changed, but that didn’t solve the problem. On the day after I called the mayor’s office, a new driver was out on the route, and a supervisor was added to ride along. The bus has been on time every morning since. The other day, when Ryan had the option to get a ride to school with neighbors, he chose to take the bus. I asked him why.
“Because the bus is fun!”
I nearly fainted.
The bus still takes longer than it should to drop off in the afternoon, but even that is causing far less anxiety than it did at the beginning of the year. There have been incidents, sure. But even those have come with some uplifting news. The other day the bus was delayed departing school when one of the kids had a medical issue. Ryan described to us (progress!!!) how he began to get very agitated but that many of the kids helped calm him down. He singled out one boy from his elementary school who patted him on the back and told him not to worry and how it helped him. This boy has never been a close friend, but he is a familiar face, and he volunteered to help my child when he was on the verge of a meltdown rather than make fun of him. I’d like to find his parents and congratulate them on the job they’ve done raising him.
Ryan’s school has an online system where parents an log in to view their child’s grades in every subject. We logged in this past weekend and were floored to see As across the board. We congratulated Ryan profusely and told him how proud we were. And then we set about worrying if he is being challenged enough in resource room classes. We decided to take no action now, but to monitor the situation. I have to admit, having that as a worry feels pretty damn good.
This time of year also means the start of hockey season. Well, not the NHL, where the players and owners are in a labor dispute that has already seen the first two weeks of the season cancelled. We should be going to the Devils home-opener Saturday night and cheering as they raise the Eastern Conference Champions banner they earned in such thrilling fashion last spring. That all feels like ancient history as we wait and wonder when (or if) the season will begin. The lockout affects both my career and my family life, and I just want it resolved as soon as possible.
All is not lost on the hockey front. After his successful experience on a “real” team last season, Ryan is back for his second year of peewee house league. Evaluations were two weeks ago, and I managed to get through them without getting nauseous this time around. Ryan did fine. He has the same wonderful coach this year (I may or may not have spent the offseason posing various bribes to make sure Coach M would pick him for his team — but you can’t prove anything!) and I know the season will be a success.
Ryan is of the age when most kids are able to dress themselves completely in their hockey gear. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Cup, shin pads, hockey socks, hockey pants, shoulder pads, elbow pads, jersey, gloves, helmet and skates are all of full of straps that must be threaded through small openings. Skates must be tied very tight. The helmet has three very tight straps. Everything needs to be put on in a certain order. None of these are easy tasks for a child with underdeveloped fine motor skills and below-average manual dexterity. It’s also on-the-job occupational therapy and I was determined that Ryan would be ready for the first practice. So for three weeks I had him put on all the gear twice per weekend in the living room. He surprised me by how well he did. I want him to get to the point where he does everything himself, and I can stay out of the dressing room as most parents do at this age. I know I’ll still have to help him get his skates tight enough, but that’s the case for lots of his peers, too.
So we go to the first practice and I left him alone in the dressing room. I came back 10 minutes later to find he forgot to put on shin pads, had only one hockey sock on, and was fastening his shoulder pads on top of his jersey. He did much better the next day, but we’ll keep working at it.
I was able to watch the practices without a pit in my stomach. Ryan still brings up the rear in most drills, but the coaches and the other kids are so encouraging, and nobody has more fun out there than Ryan. Every time he scores in a drill, he celebrates like he just won the Stanley Cup. His joy at playing the game is irrepressible, and I am so glad we have this sport in our our lives.
Ryan’s computer remains on the shelf. Mostly because he got an iPad for his birthday this year and has quickly fallen in love with it. We still have issues with it. Getting him off of it after an appropriate amount of time is a daily struggle, as is getting him to stop far enough in advance of bed time. But whereas with the computer, he shuts himself in his room with the shades drawn and the door shut and often does things that make him angry, he plays his iPad on the living room couch where he can still interact with the family. And he has yet to have a meltdown over some repetitive activity on it. Plus, it has proved a blessing at helping him navigate places where he has to wait. All in all, a trade we’ll make.
If he asks for his computer back at this point, I would probably grant the request, but as long as he’s not asking, it will remain where it sits — serving as a coaster on my dresser.
There you have it — updates on a few things. Mostly good, some challenges, lots of progress. I hope the trend continues.