Yesterday we got to go to the middle twice; first, for Chickadee’s 8th grade orientation, then later, for Monkey’s 6th grade one.
I took Chickie in the morning and marveled at how different it was, now, from her first foray into this building two years ago. She met up with friends easily, ran to greet and hug favorite teachers, and then parked herself at the brief assembly with her buds, leaving me happy to catch her glance now and then from the row behind them.
We picked up her schedule and discovered she hadn’t gotten a couple of teachers she’d wanted. Worse, it appeared many of her friends had the classes she didn’t. I braced for her disappointment.
And it didn’t come.
“It’s fine,” she said, waving her hand. “I got a couple of teachers I really wanted. Did you know the new Spanish teacher is a native speaker? I’m sure there will be people I know. And you know, when I’m in class with a friend, we talk too much. I’ll probably learn more this way.” We walked around to her various classrooms, or perhaps I should say that I walked around, while she glided ahead of me, introducing herself in a calm, clear voice, smiling and chatting as we went along.
“Anything you want to tell me?” one of her teachers asked. She shook her head, so I took that as my cue to make my daughter squirm.
“You’ll have to keep an eye on her,” I offered. “She’s trouble. BIG trouble.” I let a grin twitch my mouth before returning to a solemn nod designed to convey my condolences about my rotten child.
I was sure she would roll her eyes and/or protest, but she only glanced sideways and then mimicked my sorrowful expression and nodding. The teacher laughed. “Oh, sometimes I like trouble. Some kinds of trouble are good.” They smiled at each other and we all said our “see you next week”s and moved on to the next classroom.
Just when I began to wonder if my Chickadee—my goofy, giggly girl—was still in there, under all that poise, we passed a classmate of hers we’d spotted earlier. This girl had dyed her hair a shocking shade of auburn over the summer, and earlier I’d commented that it was… quite something. She strode past us and Chickadee slowed to meet my side, snaking an arm around my waist to pull me in close.
“I just figured it out,” she murmured into my ear, chin grazing my shoulder. “She looks like Strawberry Shortcake, now.” She pulled back slightly as I worked to stifle my giggles, then with a wicked grin moved back in and whispered, “I am tempted to run up to her and say, ‘It’s BERRY GOOD to see you again!'”
We collapsed against the wall, gasping for breath and composure. And then another friend appeared and she was off again, while I trailed a respectable distance behind.
“Are you ready?” I asked, as we headed home.
“Definitely,” she said.
In the afternoon, we headed back to school as a family. Monkey’s hastily-assigned parapro met us in the office, and while she was lovely and kind, Monkey refused to speak to her or even look in her direction. During the assembly he fidgeted and squirmed and sat so close to me on the edge of his chair, I feared he’d topple it over. By the time we’d fought our way through the crowd and located his homeroom, he darted inside and hid between a couple of bookshelves.
I picked up his schedule. He’d been assigned the one teacher I had specifically requested he not be placed with under any circumstances. That would have to be changed. But first I had to get Monkey… off the floor, as it turned out. He’d curled up with his back to the noise and asked if it was time to go home.
Otto and I looked at each other. The parapro offered helpful tidbits like, “He’ll get used to it!” and “It’s kind of loud in here for me, too.” When none of that got a reaction, she finally said, “Don’t you want to stay for ice cream? There’s ice cream later, after the schedule walk-through.”
“I have ice cream at home,” Monkey said, sounding tired and flat and utterly DONE.
We decided to head back towards the administrative offices, fix the teacher assignment, and leave.
His schedule was amended in record time, and we made plans to coordinate with the parapro on Monday morning. This was done while Monkey sat in a chair, insisting that he had a headache and he wanted to leave.
“Can we go to Sonic?” Chickadee asked, hopefully, as we headed out. “Because we didn’t stay for ice cream here? And it’s so hot out?”
“YES,” I said, too loud, surprising all of us. “Sonic. Yes. Good. Great idea!” Otto raised an eyebrow at me but played along.
One root beer float later, Monkey was insisting he felt much better. He headed upstairs, and Otto and I sat in my office.
“No,” I said.
“I know,” he said.
“He can’t. He just can’t.”
“I agree,” he said.
“What if the Hippie School can’t take him, though?” I said.
“We’ll figure it out,” he said.
Have I mentioned how fond I am of Otto? Very, very fond.
This morning I filled out the Intent to Homeschool form. Chickadee may be a little more confident than I am at the moment, but I guess we’re both ready. I keep reminding myself: different needs, different paths, different adventures, different challenges. Different kids. And I wouldn’t have them any other way.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m terrified. But I also slept great last night, for the first time in a while.