I worry about Matthew.
Anyone who has been here for any amount of time knows this.
Last year, he was the smallest kid by far in his class…..in kindergarten for that matter, which basically made him the smallest kid in the entire school. Add his ridiculous cuteness and crocodile tears o’plenty to the mix and you can imagine how teachers and students babied him alike. Matthew will often rise to the occasion when people expect things from him, but last year, the bar was set low. And he cried throughout the year, and everyone fretted and babied. And he didn’t make much progress at all.
Which is why he is repeating kindergarten this year.
We started out the year right, with a more no-nonsense teacher who knows our family (she was Isaac’s teacher last year). We explained that many times his crying is a simple side effect of his neurological condition. Many times it comes and goes for no reason whatsoever, and drawing attention to it draws it out much longer. It is best to move forward, offering him help as needed. She has been awesome with this and on the rare occasions that he does cry, it is very short lived and (other than making sure he is okay initially) there is no fanfare drawn to it. This, in addition to the fact that he is much more confident (being a student who knows the ropes) has led to a much better year for him.
There are still issues, of course. One being his refusal to acknowledge his friends in situations outside of his classroom. If we see a friend at a store or even on school grounds, but with us there, he will absolutely pretend he doesn’t know them. If they persist, trying to get him to acknowledge them, the tears come. I try to tell him gently….this is hurtful. They are thinking that there is some reason you don’t like them. If you would like to be their friend, you should at least say hello.
But he struggles.
I chaperoned the first field trip his class took. Right when I walked in the classroom, I was smitten with a boy in his class: Joe. Joe is the smallest. And he is PRECIOUS. So cute and animated and you really want to squeeze him repeatedly. I immediately understood why everybody was so over the moon about Matthew last year, because here I was swooning over teeny, tiny Joe.
Anyway, what Matthew never told us (because he doesn’t really tell us anything about what goes on at school) is that he and Joe are big buddies. They spend all of their time together at recess (per Matthew’s teacher). Apparently one morning in the Good Morning Room, Joe even sat in Matthew’s lap because he was scared (per Isaac).
All of this background info brings us to this morning. Jason helped me with the boys this morning and we were ready much earlier than usual. So when we got to school, the safety patrol wasn’t even out yet. When the safety patrol are out, they say good morning and there are usually also some adults there making sure everything is running smoothly. But today, it was just an empty sidewalk with an open school door (when kids are early they go to the Good Morning room where there is usually a DVD on).
So while my kids are getting out of the van, I see little Joe. He is standing in the vicinity of the school door, looking concerned and confused. No one is there to tell him good morning or to guide him indoors towards the Good Morning room. My kids are already out of the van and the door has closed and all I can do is send intense psychic signals to Matthew.
Be a friend.
Take his hand.
Please, my mind pleads with the back of his head.
I sit there, frozen. I see Joe recognize Matthew. His face breaks into a smile, and I see him mouth “Matthew!”. I have no idea what Matthew’s face looks like or how he is reacting. I say a thousand prayers in one nanosecond.
Then I see Joe reach for Matthew, and I know that it all comes down to this.
Matthew reaches back.
We all win.