I’ve just watched Geordie ride off down the path on his way to High School. Last week he walked but his friend rides, so Geordie wanted to ride too. He was a bit wobbly — his bag was a tad lopsided and made him keep veering to the left. A few false starts and he disappeared around the corner — leaving me standing there, hoping he’ll make it to school in one piece.
The life of a parent of a child with special needs. Or any parent really.
We are in our second week of High School.
Last week was pretty much a non-event. Geordie went to school, attended classes, participated in a lot of getting to know you activities and came home each day very tired but happy.
He memorised his timetable (which I am still grappling with to decipher) and knows where all his classes are.
He likes all his teachers.
He’s made a few new ‘friends’ (i.e. people he feels comfortable to work with in class).
He loves agriculture — even though, or maybe because, the teacher made them clean out the stinky, stuffy chook pen in their first lesson.
He really, really likes the Year 7 Coordinator, who he has been lucky enough to score for Mathematics and Digital Media.
He has a few classes with his best mate, and a few without — and he’s okay with that!
I could not have hoped for a better start.
We did everything we could to make this transition smooth and we can pat ourselves on the back as much as we like, but the truth is — Geordie was ready. He’s done the hard yards, he has the determination and the resilience. He made this happen.
Knowing how well he’s managed this first week (and the lead-up to it), if I could go back and do it again, I still wouldn’t do anything different. Except — I may not worry quite as much about it.
Transitions are hard. Change is hard.
Nothing is impossible.
My advice to my past-self (and my future self for the next time we have a transition of any sort):
♦ provide lots of opportunities to familiarise with the new setting/schedule/procedures
♦ talk about expectations
♦ listen to and acknowledge concerns (including your own)
♦ give associated parties a ‘heads up’ about what they could expect and an opportunity to show what they can offer
♦ when you’ve done everything you can, sit back and try to relax —it will be okay (and if it’s not, you’ll know what to do).