Kindergarten has been going great–for both boys, but surprisingly well for Matthew. We have only had one morning that he has woken up and cried about having to go. But a cupful of my coveted carbonated water helped turned his attitude around very quickly (it’s the closest thing he gets to a soda and he loves it!).
The one problem has been morning drop off. He cries every morning. And I’m not just talking about crying. He refuses to get out of the car and stays frozen in his seat. Parents aren’t allowed out of their cars at drop off and I finally had to contact the special education department about having an aide there specifically to
drag help him out of the car.
Even with the aide there, the shenanigans continued. But at least she was there to get him out, and help him with his backpack (which is another problem–the backpack is heavy and he is so tiny!! He only just now has grown out of his 24 month pants!).
I felt like the crying was simply becoming a habit. I could tell his heart wasn’t in it anymore, that he was doing it just to do it. And I knew we just needed to break the cycle. So at the advice of his preschool aide from last year, I decided to institute a sticker chart. Every day he doesn’t cry or whine at drop off, he earns a sticker, and after 5 stickers he gets a reward (which will probably be a piece of homemade chocolate).
Let me do a little sidebar here on why it has taken me so long to do this. It is very hard for me to “reward” behavior that I think should be expected. For instance, I never understood parents who paid their kids for good grades. I also didn’t feel that it was fair for Matthew to be earning chocolate when Isaac does this without thinking about it. But in the end, they are totally different kids, and I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t hold Matthew to the same standards that I hold Isaac. I want to. But I can’t.
So this morning, we talked about the stickers. And how he was going to be brave.
And we pulled up to the school, and the aide approached our van, and I told her, I think he is going to do it by himself today.
And for the first time in 39 days, he climbed out of the van on his own (with a slightly wobbly chin).
And everybody on the sidewalk cheered.
When you have a child with special needs, the milestones are very different. But usually a lot sweeter.