This post is an inside window into what it’s like sending my sensory-driven son Regan to first grade. He is blessed: with an amazing school, a small classroom, and a wonderful teacher who loves him–Miss Yvonne Yoder. Though I wrote the post as if to her, she knows every bit of it already. And more. It’s just for you, so you can see in… and for me, so I can see too.
When I enter your classroom my eyes are big and blue, tinted almost with fear though I am not afraid. Where you see a single image, I see a thousand—a host of colors and shapes shouting at me to attend. I feel a little dizzy, my pupils wide.
I walk slightly stiff-legged. Maybe I’m acting a little babyish because I’m so excited. Maybe I’m pretending I’m a robot. I love pretending. I especially like pretending to be a robot, because the jerky arms and legs help me feel calm and focused.
I like my robot lunchbox with the flashing eyes and I like show and tell and I really like how I feel when you get down on my level and smile at me. I can’t stand being last in line and I can’t stand raising my hand if you don’t call on me and I can’t stand chapel because it’s so boring to sit still. I respond better to hand signals than words and I will have an ear infection in the first month of school and I spell my name wrong on purpose.
I love recess. I love our alphabet rhymes with hand motions. I love art class. You will always be able to tell my art from the others’ because I will find a way to make it mine. Once when you told us to sign our work, I wrote Regan Regan Regan Regan Regan all around the edge of the paper. I was so happy with my painting and I wanted everyone to know who made it.
I always need to know about relationships. I need to know what game is rowdiest and which child is kindest and whose backpack is coolest. I always know who my first best friend is, and my second best friend, and my third best friend, and fourth best friend. This all changes multiple times a day, but I never lose track. When I am angry at someone, he is immediately demoted to my last best friend.
I want people to like me, though I don’t really know how to make them do it. I bet your substitute teacher doesn’t like me as much as T, because she gave him the best notebook and called on him twice and me once. I will stick out my tongue at that teacher when she is not looking, and when she catches me I will pretend I never heard of a tongue before, much less this “sticking it out” bit. I am very good at pretending.
I like to know what I can get away with. I had to find out if you’d really take away a joy stick if I was naughty, and sure enough you did; but I’m pretty sure that your teacher’s aide wouldn’t. See? I got away with it.
You will learn to watch me like a hawk because I am king of the wild cards. Happy to furious to crying to laughing—I can do it all in 10 seconds flat. I will beat up on somebody someday and run away from you a few times and try your patience to no end. I’ll be an angel one day and a devil the next. It’s good you’ve taught a lot of kids before me; you will need every bit of your wisdom.
I hate to put you through all this but I love you a lot and there’s no one else I’d rather do it to…
I will amaze you and baffle you, charm and repel you. You may love me or not, conquer me or not, but I’m pretty sure you will never forget me.