I have decided that I am really looking forward to summer and having the Wise Old Owl out of school for awhile. It has been completely exhausting and I reached the panic stage this weekend. While I would love for Herbie to be in school all year to give me a chance to rest for at least part of the day (just talked to his resource room teacher about ESY, thank goodness for that), I cannot say the same about the Owl. It feels like every other week there is some sort of food activity planned at preschool. Fruit loop necklaces, projects made out of pasta, gingerbread houses, rice krispy treat snowballs, etc. If the regular classroom teacher remembers to tell me about it, I can bring in an alternative food and my son will sit at a separate table and do his project.

My son's IEP clearly states his issues with social interactions. The SLP comes into the room to encourage him to talk to other kids and coach him to say one or two words. He does not talk for most of the day, and never says anything unless the SLP is right next to him. So here they are, encouraging him to interact with kids one minute, then clearing him away from all of the other kids to keep him safe during the activity. What kind of message is that sending him?????

I recently realized that the healthy snack initiative--the one that was preached to parents at the beginning of the year and stated unequivocally that nobody should bring cookies or cupcakes--was a joke. I overheard a parent explaining to the teacher about the two flavors of cupcakes she had brought for her son's birthday, and sadly realized that my son only had crackers and cereal in his safe snack box. I thought maybe she was an exception breaking the rule, but then a few days later, a mom asked me if there were any safe birthday treats that she could buy for her son's upcoming birthday. Apparently the teacher had told her she should bring in cookies or cupcakes. She ultimately decided on store-bought cupcakes, of which there are none that are safe, but at least I had a heads-up, so I could make cupcakes and send one to school for the Wise Old Owl. Now he has a box of his favorite cookies in the safe snack stash.

Late last week, the classroom teacher sent out an email asking parents to bring in empty food containers (milk jugs, butter containers, egg cartons, etc.) for their grocery store, which would be set up for the entire month of March. I asked our allergist what I should do and was told that he could not play with such containers. He either had to skip school, not participate in that activity, or all of the containers needed to be safe. Wow. I passed along the info by email to the teacher, and over the weekend I went into panic mode, trying to empty out all of the containers I could find thinking that I could single-handedly supply the entire grocery store. There have been worse things to prepare for at school (like making homemade gingerbread, frosting, and buying enough candy decorations), but I think it has just been building up so this latest alert put me over the edge. This morning, the teacher said that it would be easier to cancel the activity and do something else. I was so glad for that, but somehow, the tension that built up over the last few days has not gone away. (Too much caffeine maybe?!) She said it to me very kindly, but I still wonder how she felt. Is she irritated with me? Does that ever spill over into how she treats my son? Do the other parents know that he is the cause in the change of plans? And why do I need to worry about this so much???

This morning, when we were heading to school, the Wise Old Owl asked me which room he would be going to. I told him it was Tuesday, so the regular classroom today. (Wednesdays are spent in the special ed room with a smaller group.) He expressed some disappointment and said he wanted to go to the Wednesday room because he loves the play-dough. Every week, one of the paras makes fresh play-dough that is safe for him so he can participate with all of the kids. They make him feel safe and part of the group in that room, and he loves it. Isn't that how it should be everywhere?
 





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