Friday, October 10, 2014

Open House

Last night was Jacob's open house at school.  It's usually a bit chaotic, but it's a nice chance to see how things are going after a month.  Last year it was a little more interesting since it was our first one and we really hadn't seen much of the school.  This year we already knew all of that, so it was mostly just a chance to go see what Jacob's been up to in the past few weeks.  And this year, I wasn't bracing myself for the worst!  Many prayers were answered when Jacob got matched with this teacher.

Jacob LOVES his teacher.  Maybe too much.  He told me the other night that he wants to live with her, to which I replied that that would be illegal.  He's been making her drawings and wanting to buy her stuff.  On one hand it's cute and on the other it's a little awkward.  He's always loved so many of his teachers that I should have known that his dislike of last year's teacher was a red flag that things were really bad.  I still don't know what to chalk that one up to--a bad match, something she did, the worst period of his behavior issues, boredom--but all I know is that this year feels downright miraculous in comparison.  I'm sure his teacher has a lot to do with it, but I also think that he's simply more comfortable this year.  He's used to the school, he's used to the schedule, and he's used to the process of getting to know the other kids.  Whether or not he makes "friends", it's still hard to tell, but at least he's not completely out of his element when meeting new kids.  I also think that last year's work was hard on him...not because it was hard, but because it went between terribly repetitive and boring to a bit above his ability level.  I remember being confused last year at our parent-teacher conference when the teacher was talking about writing in journals.  Jacob could barely read, let alone spell words and put them into a sentence.  I can only imagine that he totally disconnected from the project because he couldn't do it up to his standards.  As the year went on and he learned more, it did get better, but it just struck me funny initially.  Then, at the beginning of this school year, as I was sorting through all of last year's stuff, I realized how many of these weird little photocopied books they did.  I know they were for reading and identifying sight words, but they were supposed to color them, too.  There were SO many of them.  They must have done a couple a week, and I can see how that would get repetitive.  Don't get me wrong, I know learning takes repetition, but it just seemed like a cop-out or something when there are so many other ways to learn that stuff.

Anyway...this year has been blissful.  He loves his teacher, seems content with his friends, and is managing the work.  He still complains about homework, but at least we can do it at his pace.  He usually whizzes through the math worksheet, does his flashcards without an issue, and then begrudgingly does his 10-15 minutes of reading five nights each week.  The books are pretty basic and he does well with most of them, but Craig and I have noticed that he guesses very randomly at words he doesn't know and skips over easy stuff, almost like he's assuming what it should say.  It's little stuff, like changing a pronoun or switching out "the" for "a".  Part of me wonders if he's just tired, being lazy, or needs his eyes checked.  But all things considered, this has been much better.

Last night we had a list of things to check out--little books he's written, a miniature paper creation of himself (with lacrosse stick in hand), and some of the books he's been reading.  We chatted a bit with his teacher (who's running the Chicago Marathon this weekend, believe it or not!), and while she didn't gush over his skills or anything, she did talk about his love of sports without sounding like he drives her nuts.  There were no mentions of trouble with his attention span or any other frustrating behaviors that we heard on repeat last year.  Maybe we'll get some of that in December at the parent-teacher conference, but as of now, everything has been peachy.  And trust me, if she had an issue, I think she'd be fine to open up that dialogue, so I really think that's okay right now.  I was happy to see that Jacob's reading books were a higher level than any other kids at his table that I could see.  Knowing that at least one other kid I know who's his age is reading chapter books, I took some comfort in that. 

He said hi to a few friends, though he's shy about it when we're around.  He gleefully showed us the art and music rooms and was bummed that the gym wasn't open.  The only other significant thing was that we had to sign up for party supplies.  I braced myself, signed up for doable items, then started taking notes on all of the gluten-free replacements I need to work on between now and February.  Pumpkin cookies for Halloween, Oreos for a Thanksgiving craft, gluten free graham crackers for Christmas (for a gingerbread house, and some gluten free candies, just in case), and a crapload of items for the 100 Day celebration (again, after our last minute scramble last year).  I'm actually not even going to worry about the 100 Day thing yet because it's a long way away, but ugh...I'm starting to hate that made up school celebration.  We celebrated at the end of the year when we'd actually accomplished something, darn it.  But I digress...

I can't even describe the amazingness of not having to worry about Jacob at school.  He's even doing a great job behaving at the afterschool program, which if you recall, was not the case last year.  It may not last as the newness of the new year wears off, but it just seems like he's found himself a good spot and I can only pray it continues.  He's a super goofy, super unique kid, and I know that he's always going to be a little different than everyone else.  He just sees the world differently, to the extent that sometimes it's hard to see it with him.  But I know there's something special in there and if we can just get past some of the hard stuff I know we'll get to see what's really there.  There's so much running through his head at any given moment, and if he ever learns how to filter it a bit and direct all of that energy into the most important stuff....man, he could really do amazing things.

Oh, and the other night he was actually trying to teach Carter how to play sports.  He was trying to teach him hockey while I was making dinner, and then at one point when I tried to take Carter out of his room (because he usually hates having him in there), he told me to leave him because he was teaching him how to play soccer.  Who knew he had it in him?  That's not to say that they don't still beat each other up and drive each other nuts, but at least there are flashes of what could be.  For now, I'll take it.  It's funny what a year in the depths will do to your perception of things.

I feel like I jinx myself when I blog about the good stuff here, but I do think it's important to celebrate those moments when we have them.  So there you go...

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