Yesterday was MidWinter Field Day at school- a field trip to the Field House to play field games inside on fake grass- complete with fake dirt. Yes, fake dirt. Apparently it is good for cushioning. The kids get just as dirty, by the way the "fake dirt" rubs into little hands and smudges across little faces and clothes. But they don't get wet or cold, so there's a plus.
The whole kindergarden went. I got to go as a chaperone. I had to meet them there, because there was no room on the bus (I noticed I was the only parent waiting for the buses in the parking lot. I was also the only special ed parent. Go figure.) We had five adults for six kids. Other classrooms had four to five adults for twenty to thirty, except the inclusion room- they only had 18 kids.
Our kids had a great time. We modified the games a little, so the instructions were easier to follow and expectations more in line with success. For example, we had a relay race that required our kids to jump, gallop, and skip. We all looked at one another in dismay- none of our kids can skip. So we kept the jumping, had them try the galloping, and then had them run. Also, our group was eerily quiet. The other groups were running around, screaming, squealing, laughing, yelling to each other. Quite a din. But ours? Well, we had laughing and some squealing, one kid with several (expected) meltdowns, but really, quiet. Most of them don;t speak well.
In some ways, the day was startling. Seeing Joey next to his non-disabled peers always highlights his disabilities. I just don't think of Joey as disabled most of the time. He's Joey, he has special needs, I have to pay attention to the supports he needs- but I just don't think about him as disabled. He's Joey. Next to the general uproar, it is always a bit of a shock to see what other kids can do, and Joey clearly cannot. He's so close... so close... yet so far, so separated. It was also a little disturbing to see kids that clearly needed to be in special ed who were not. Like Joey, you could see the isolation. Left in the swarm, they were left out, ridiculed, pestered, nagged. Adults were too taken up with supervising so many kids that there was no possibility of supporting those kids properly. One kid toe-walked and flapped all the way from the bus into the building, and every time I saw him, he was sitting against a wall, instead of participating. That was sad.
But in some ways, it was great. Joey does so much more than he used to. He can follow instructions, he can catch a bean bag, he can run and jump. He even did some crab walking, though he got frustrated with it and finally gave up and just crawled. He did the limbo with his friends. They did a whole game of pretending- pretend to paint pictures, pretend to catch balloons, pretend to ice skate- and he could do these things. And he was so happy, playing among friends. He was happy his mom was there. He was happy to eat a peanut butter sandwich. He was happy to play games. Everybody wanted to be with him, sit next to him, play with him. He was having a fabulous time. He enjoys life.
He was, of course, a mess the rest of the day. That's OK. I just had to hug him more, and smooch on him more, after a morning of lots of extra hugs and kisses.
Life is good.