It’s the start of a new school year for my son, year 3 of primary school.
The uniforms are spotless, the shoes are polished, the pencils all sharpened and the bags packed.
Everything is new, everything is shiny, there’s excitement in the air, expectations of what this new school year will bring.
The parents are all smiling at the school gates; we’ve all survived the summer. We’re all looking forward to the few hours of quiet where we won’t hear “Mum, Mum, MUM!!” We’re all so proud of our little people.
But as I watch my little guy wander through the jungle of the playground my heart is in turmoil.
You see, he’s spent all summer safe and sheltered from this world he finds hard to fit into.
At first he struggled to adapt to the holidays – he spent the first few weeks trying to emulate the school routine.
We watched number jacks on repeat, he solved pages of maths problems, and he gave himself break time.
While everyone else was sleeping in and enjoying lazy mornings my son was up at the “normal” school time and so we had hours and hours to try and fill with activities.
The change in routine caused mayhem in his world.
Finally, he accepted the holidays and spent the next few weeks lining up cars, learning the capital cities of the world and reciting facts he’d memorised about space.
We went lots of walks and bike rides where we counted our steps and tried to beat our records. We didn’t have any play dates – he preferred his own company and why would he see school friends when it wasn’t school time??
The summer days were tough for us both; we were both exhausted mentally and physically, there were meltdowns, there were tears from us both, there was screaming, there were more meltdowns and then more tears from us both. But there were also laughs and fun and happiness that we were at home together.
Then we had to prepare to come back to school.
We went over every detail, we done social stories; we spoke about the new class and the new things he might learn.
He was up during the night worrying and again mayhem was in his world.
There were some days, actually a lot of days where I couldn’t wait for the return to school but today my heart hurt when I had to say goodbye.
He’ll be with you, teacher, for 6 hours a day – will he be safe in the class? Will you know that he needs help with his jacket? Will you help him change at gym time? Will you help him eat in the busy dinner hall? Will you translate all the unseen bits of information that he will miss every day? I worry that his quirks won’t be accepted; I worry that others will find him weird. I worry that he won’t eat enough because he’s so anxious.
I worry that he won’t be able to communicate when he needs help. I worry that he will get lost in the classroom.
As difficult as the holidays were for us it still breaks me to leave my son at school.
So dear teacher, I hope you understand when I message you more than most or when I ask for a quick chat all I want for my son this year is for him to be happy, accepted and free to be the brilliant boy he is.