"Despite having spit on his face and glasses, he still gave his first week of big school a 10 out of 10."
Follow these simple steps to help your child prepare for their first day of school.
My five-year-old started school this year. It’s been a mammoth effort as my son has low vision and requires a little extra help in and out of the classroom. He stands out a little because he is physically different to others his age. He wears glasses and is super tall.
I know there will be times in his life when he will be picked on for his differences, we all have been. But as a parent I want to celebrate his differences because it is these unique parts of Mr 5, the apple of my eye, that will be loved and cherished by his friends and loved ones as he grows up.
"I can’t fault anything to date"
The school where my son started “big school” has been amazing. I can’t fault anything during our journey to date.
I started conversations mid-last year to ensure all of our ducks were in a row. The disability support staff, counsellor, principal, classroom teacher and every staff member I have met has been on board from day one. I feel blessed! If we didn’t have that support, there was no way I would have sent Mr 5 to school this year.
Things were going well. Image: iStock.
Separate your needs from those of your children. They can’t live your dreams.
"We had the choice to keep him back"
He only turned five the day before he started - we had the choice to keep him back. Despite having low vision, and in some ways because of his low vision and the early intervention of specialist help, he was more than ready.
His brain is like a sponge. He is likeable and funny and beyond his years with his inquiring mind. His occupational therapist, physio, vision support and numerous specialist doctors love his energy too. He’s a bit of a jokester. He has a great sense of humour, engages with people from all walks of life, is inclusive and kind and his perspective is one that makes me think differently about the world.
Yet five people talking about one particular school can sound as if they’re talking about five different schools because the idea of ‘school’ is so personal, evoking for each one of us an experience of childhood, of parenting, of hope and disappointment, of what we’ve come to believe about ourselves and other people. When young people talk about ‘school’, they’re usually referring (unconsciously) to those things.
He is keen to learn and is forever asking questions about topics and concepts even adults don’t consider. He wants to be a doctor when he gets older. And a fireman. And a paramedic. And a garbage truck driver. I truly feel so lucky to be his mum. I don’t care what his profession so long as he is still smiling. I don’t ever take for granted any moments we share together, even the occasional tantrum in the shops because he didn’t get a toy.
"A kid pushed him in the back and he fell"
Mamma bear mode was activated this week when he came home to tell me a kid pushed him in the back and he fell to the ground. I wasn’t too phased. No big deal, get yourself up, dust yourself off and keep on moving. He did just that. Good job, son!
Memorize the acronym H.A.L.T. Tantrums often happen because the thrower is Hungry, Agitated, Lonely, or Tired.
I asked a few more questions about his last few days at big school and the plot thickened.
He looked at me a little shyly, his eyes looked away from me and he nudged in close to my chest. I knew he was going to tell me something I didn’t want to hear. Something a little sensitive. He went on to tell me the same kid who pushed him over had also spat in his face ... twice ... on different days. Yuck, just yuck.
He was spat at twice and shoved once. Image: iStock.
Knowing that out of the five days Mr 5 has been to school the same child in his class has gone out of their way to make my son’s day a little less sparkly on three occasions is not OK.
I kept asking questions that required Mr 5 to share more about his classmate’s actions. It seems my child isn’t the only one to cop a spray of spit in the first week of school - he is “sharing the love”. Weirdly, knowing Mr 5 wasn’t the only one being targeted was comforting.
I don’t blame the school and in some ways, I feel sorry for the child, that he is unable to express himself through words or positive actions.
And, to the parents of the spitter, please teach your child to be kind and keep his bodily fluids to himself. Please. Maybe even give him a hug and talk to him about his day and how he is feeling. Knowing there is someone in your corner, backing you and ready to listen is something every human being needs.
Turn the TV off when you can and turn the conversation on where possible. And remember; loving them is easy, it’s rearing them that’s hard but it does get easier with practise.
I’m a realist. I know s**t happens and kids are mean and all that but I just want Mr 5 to get through school as unscathed as possible. Is that wishful thinking?
Why am I sharing this experience?
It’s not to shame the child or parent. I’m sharing because this type of occurrence is like a baptism of fire for every parent when their little one gets a little closer to independence. We have to stand by and hope we have equipped our child with all the skills and resilience to deal with these types of challenging situations.
I’m super proud of how Mr 5 handled himself. We have had many conversations about how people might point out his differences, like his glasses, and poke fun at them. Without even thinking he quickly replies with “why would they pick on me for my glasses? I need them to see just like they need their legs to walk or run”. Boom! This kid is ready for the world.
Despite having spit on his face and glasses, he still gave his first week of big school a 10 out of 10.