"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Friday, October 1, 2010

preschool diaries: The Note

Let me preface this by saying: The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. And that's why this is so hard.

The note in the communication folder on Tuesday read, "Today was a rough day...." The note was unneccessary. It was clear from the tear-stained cheeks that the day had been difficult. The follow-up phone call with Mrs. D shed some more light on the situation:

For the entirety of the school day on Tuesday....three whole hours....Evan cried. She said it wasn't tantrum/disruptive crying, just sad, quiet crying. The worse kind of crying, in my opinion, because tantrum crying is annoying and you can just ignore it. Sad crying demands attention and is, well, sad.

She said that Tuesday was the worst day of his three weeks of school, but no day had been easy for him. Evan does not do anything in school. Ever. He does not play at centers, he does not sing along, he does not even eat the snack. She says he follows directions; when it's time to clean up, he cleans up. When it's time to come to the carpet, he comes to the carpet. When it's time to listen to a story, he listens to the story. He'll play with one certain truck on the playground and he poured one scoop of rice at the rice table once, but that's the extent of his engagement in preschool. He just wanders around the perimeter of the classroom, keeping a careful eye and a safe distance from the activity the rest of the class is involved in. In addition, she said that she can see the anxiety all over his face all day. He'll watch the kids play at a particular center and she can tell that he wants to go....she'll bring him over and try to get him engaged and he refuses. She tries to bring him to where a quiet friend is playing nicely and he refuses to play. She has tried to let him be and he comes to her asking for help finding something to do.

She said, "He kind of baffles me." To which I replied, "Mrs. D, he has been a mystery to me for all three and a half of his years." And I quickly cleared my throat to choke back the tears. My baby. My sweet, thoughtful, complex, baby.

I know she cares about him and I know, because she's reaching out to me so early on in the school year, that she's a wonderful teacher who is going to help him. Thank goodness. I don't know if I'd be able to continue to send him to a place where this was going on and no one seemed to notice or care...

So what do we do?

What can I do to eliminate this anxiety? And I agree with Mrs. D that that is what this is....he's been prone to social anxiety before (in play group and soccer, in particular). And he's dealing with the repercussions of feeling anxious: his sleep habits, which we had finally gotten under control--not perfect, but not horrible--are back to being pretty rocky. And we're seeing an increase in the tantrums at home that we have been combatting all summer but had been making progress against. Not to mention that he's got the right, or wrong, genes for anxiety issues anyway: I was a mess. I learned to deal with my social and school anxiety over time, but it was hard and took a long time. And I'm still not finished dealing--I'm the one who stresses for months about hosting the neighborhood bunco game at my house. I'm the one who flushes crimson when I find myself addressing a group of people. I'm the one who blogs because the thought of saying all of this to a real live therapist makes me want to throw up.

And I know how it feels to deal with school anxiety and I know it doesn't feel good. So I want to shield my little boy from having to experience this endless stress and fear and uncertainty.

But how?

And of course there's the flip side: Mrs. D assures me that he is not yet, but what about if or when he becomes disruptive in class because of his unwillingness/inability to participate? What then? I know, I know: Don't worry about things you don't need to worry about yet....but that's the other piece of anxiety: Unnecessary, preemptive Worry. We can't help it.

I would say that I'll sleep on it and come up with a game plan once I've had a good night's rest, but between Mr. Up All Night and Mr. Hungry at All Hours, I'm pretty sure that won't happen any time in the near future.

Lesson Learned:
Every child faces difficulties, and some would say that this is a pretty minor difficulty, and in the grand scheme of things I know that I have to agree. But when your child's difficulties are the same as yours, you know how Minor can very quickly feel Major.

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