King of the wild cards

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.


Dear Teacher,

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.



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Joanna Schlabach
10 years ago

Love to you my dear Shari- I hear your heart- I know a little of the emotion of sending one to school that does not stay “inside the box”…God bless you real good!

10 years ago

I feel teary thinking about how understood Regan will feel when he reads this years from now. (Or maybe he will be mad about it, or indifferent, or maybe he will read it tomorrow. 🙂 )

Jo Yoder
10 years ago

Teary-eyed here, too. I watched him the first day of school and wondered what kind of thoughts were whirling around in his brain. You are brave to let him go, to trust others to love him as much as you do, to risk misunderstandings and hurt. God be with Regan, his friends, his family, and his beautiful teacher.

Janelle Glick
10 years ago

This is beautiful, Shari, and an amazing gift for his teacher! I wish I’d have gotten letters like this in September from the parents of my students – it would have saved many misunderstandings..

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