So, I am finally getting around to posting something about Henry’s Halloween party at his school. There were so many wonderful little surprises for me; from the quietness of the classroom to all of the amazingly well-behaved students! I haven’t known really where to start! My first thought was that these couldn’t be Kindergarteners. Except if that were the case, my son and I were in the wrong room! No, this was definitely his class. And they were all so adorable in their costumes!
Side note: Of all the costume choices we have at home, it took Henry weeks to decide. Every day he would choose something else. Henry finally decided on The Human Torch, part of the Fantastic 4 superheroes. (So many superheroes to choose from, so little time.) Anyway…
To begin the party, Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher called each table, one at a time, to a carpeted area in the class to take their pictures. She encouraged them to stand close to each other, and even to put their arms around each other or hold hands with their friends. I immediately expected Henry to stand way apart from his group, not wanting to be too close to anyone. Henry definitely likes his space and he is certainly not a fan of group pictures! I was so pleased to see Henry participating that I didn’t even notice, until that evening when I looked at the pictures, was that Henry actually reached for and held the hand of the little princess that was next to him! What? Wow.
Next, I watched as the kids lined up to head to the gym for the traditional all-school Halloween parade. Henry in a gym packed with kids, teachers and parents and the thunderous droning of hundreds of voices and waiting…and waiting. This would be interesting to see… It was hot and crowded and I was feeling uncomfortable being in there myself. Finally, the parade began and the students made their way around the small gym lead by their teachers in a line of characters and crazy costumes too many to list! I watched, amazed, as Henry participated in all of this!
As the kids filed back in to the classroom, we parents had each of their places set with their Halloween party treats, Krispy Kreme donuts, rainbow Goldfish, and the cutest juice boxes decorated like mummies. Henry was the first one back in the room as apparently he was line leader that day. He surprised me by telling me he had to go wash his hands before having snack. When each student had finished washing they took their places in their seats. The kids were talking and laughing with each other at the tables but no one was eating. These are Kindergarteners? Did I mention there was a donut on each plate in front of them? I was almost feeling awkward about it until as the last couple of kids headed to their respective seats, Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher said, ” Class, if your hands are washed and your snacks are ready, you may go ahead and eat .” And then they did. What? Wow. (again)
When Henry had a hard time opening the straw to his juice box he turned to me and asked me for help. Knowing that Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher really encourages her kids to think of ways they can do it themselves I encouraged him to keep trying and think of another way he could get it open. One kid from another table offered a suggestion of getting a scissors to open it. Henry thought for a moment, turned to the princess next to him and asked, “Can you help me open this.” Okay, Tom Sawyer, I’m pretty sure that’s not what your teacher had in mind, but, well, I couldn’t say I blamed him. When the princess had a hard time as well, the Transformer stepped in to help!
At some point in the party, Henry turned to the that pretty princess sitting next to him and was talking to her about something. The little girl was just smiling at him and giggling. Henry slung his arm over the back of the chair to turn and look at me with a grin and said in the most matter-of-fact voice, “She never knows what I’m talking about, Mom. She doesn’t understand me.”
I was cracking up and I tried to explain to him that maybe it was because he often spoke so fast and that sometimes even I had a hard time understanding what he was talking about. We were laughing together and he said to me, “Mom, you know I have a super-speedy brain! I can’t help it!” Can’t argue that fact, dude!
Throughout the party, all of these Kindergarteners remained so well-behaved. Even though they were laughing and talking with each other, they did not ever get too loud and they all continued to participate in the little craft a dad had volunteered to do with them and continued when we moved them to the different game stations we had set up. These kids genuinely seemed to have a good time! It was one of the most enjoyable class party I have ever attended!
I think it would probably be difficult for many of the parents of Henry’s classmates to understand just how HARD it is for Henry to hold it together as he navigates his way every day through these types of situations. The seemingly simplest thing as standing in line or right next to a classmate and then even thought of that someone possibly touching him, well, this is probably one of Henry’s most difficult obstacles. Yet he is able to tolerate it more and more every day. I credit his teacher for providing him (and all of her students) with such an amazing environment that is calm, quiet, orderly and CONSISTENT so Henry isn’t always so distracted with sensory issues. Then he can focus more on LEARNING and GROWING along with his peers!
I have always given credit to his wonderful team at the pre-school level for doing just this same thing and I was sure it was why he has come such a long way since he first entered school. Now I am convinced that it is just this type of environment that Henry can learn to thrive in and I feel so fortunate that Henry has another AMAZING teacher for his first mainstream school experience!
Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher may have been dressed as Sam-I-Am for Halloween but I know she that in real life, she is even more special and magical, creative and kind, caring and compassionate, so very, very wise. She truly gets it!