Pookie’s teacher was out sick yesterday and they had a substitute. When he got home from school he had a note from his Judy Blume, his aide….
“Did Pookie used to go to Other Elementary?! Our sub today was Mrs M and she thinks she used know him! Mrs M was an aide in Mrs L’s class back then. She says what a nice surprise to see Pookie again and how great he is doing!”
The answer is, yes. He did go to that school for Kindergarten and it was a good year. It was a Modified Learning Program, a self contained Special Ed Classroom. He had his ups and downs that year. He used to knock over everyone’s block towers. He used to dramatically rip his worksheets in half to protest the amount of “work” they had him do. But he also participated in art, gym and music for the first time. He went on field trips and enjoyed the Friday cooking sessions. I remember the teacher well, but I am a little fuzzy on the aide. I think its because she was not there all year. But I do think I remember that she was nice and friendly. So, I am glad that she has fond memories of Pookie.
After this note from Judy Blume, I started thinking about all Pookie’s old teachers and aides. I have good memories of most of them. I remember his preschool teachers and how they helped get us through potty training and some tough odd spots (like when he wouldn’t stay in his seat on the bus, or when he cried each day when he could not ride to school on Geetle’s bus). I will always have a soft-spot for Mr H, who was his first Regular Ed teacher, and the way he made us feel like Pookie was just a regular student.
And of course, on the flip side, I have really strong memories of his teacher/aide team from 2nd grade… That team is still on my crap-list because they almost made me believe they knew more about Pookie’s capabilities than I did.
As you know, I like to have conversations in my head with invisible people as a form of cheap therapy. So, after writing a note back to Judy Blume confirming that Mrs M was indeed Pookie’s classroom aide in Kindergarten, I imagined myself writing a note to his 2nd grade team.
Dear Unnamed Teachers (I’m sorry, but Pookie never gave you a nickname…and you know what that means)
2 years have passed since we said that we intended to put Pookie into Regular Ed. 2 years have passed since you said he could not handle it. 2 years have passed since we said that he deserved the right to try and that we believed he could succeed. 2 years have passed since you said you’d “like to be a fly on the wall in that classroom.”
Well, if you were a fly on the wall you would see a lot.
You would see a boy who still has echolalia, but is learning to control it.
You would see a boy who is keeping up with the class and doing great with his modified assignments.
You would see a boy who made a model of the Washington Monument, gave an oral report on Jupiter and wrote a book report about Laura Ingalls Wilder.
You would see classmates who bring in pictures of Wreck-it-Ralph, just to make this boy smile.
You would see a teacher who raves about this boy at conferences.
You would see a boy who is in the highest spelling group.
You would see a boy that has a best friend.
You would see classmates that worry and alert the teacher if Pookie doesn’t get off the bus.
You would see a boy who joined the Chorus, goes without an aide, catches a ride home with a friend and loves it.
You would see a boy who has NEVER hit anyone since coming to this school (you always thought he was a hitter…)
I don’t know if you want to see these things or not. Maybe I have turned you into a cartoon villain in my mind. Maybe you were not really that doubtful of Pookie’s chances. But I know that you did make us feel like the goals we wanted to set for Pookie were lofty at best and that you knew better than we did. Even if Pookie’s progress stalls or stops right here, at this very moment, I will still always be glad that we put him in Regular Ed.