Thursday, September 18, 2008

My (New) Hometown

I've been feeling a bit disconnected from the kids since they started school. Hubby has been doing more of the drop-offs and pick-ups since we moved, and as a result I have to interrogate the children if I want to get a sense of what they've done that day. Bub's report is always the same: he played with a new boy who had a red shirt. I'm not sure whether this is a default response, or whether he really does select his playmates based on their shirt colour. Pie's reports are more mysterious. There was a TV at day-care yesterday, she claims, but they weren't allowed to watch it. "Somebody's mom stayed at my preschool," she insisted. "But I don't know her name. The mom wouldn't let us watch TV."

Huh?

Fortunately, this is a small town, so I know where to go when I need the inside scoop on how my kids are doing: the grocery store.

My initiation into small-town life occurred last week when I pulled into the parking lot and saw the teacher from Bub's Best Start program. Bub had a good morning, she reported, aside from a small altercation when it was time to go inside. "I have to be the boss," he growled at her. Her eyebrows flew up, so he drove home his advantage: "I am the boss."

So it was no real surprise the other day when I heard my name (mispronounced) as I pushed my cart down the dairy aisle. It was Mrs. Rowe, Bub's kindergarten teacher. I am usually too intimidated to approach the teacher directly for an after-school report: she has that awe-inspiring aura of calm authority that I associate with the best primary-school teachers. As soon as I see her benevolent, smiling face I feel irresistibly compelled to be on my best behaviour.

"I'm glad I ran into you!" she said. "I put a note in Bub's backpack but I'd rather explain what happened today in person." It had been school picture day; the schedule was thrown off and the afternoon was very rushed. Bub was having trouble transitioning and - to make a long story short - he bit his E.A. (a wonderful woman with a wealth of experience working with autism).

I left the grocery store in tears, but not because of the biting incident. "Bub is fitting in so well," Mrs. Rowe assured me. She and Josie (the biting victim) love him - he's so full of personality. Bub has even formed a fledgling friendship: he and a little boy named Jake play together a lot - she's even seen them reaching out to touch each other's faces. When she's had autistic children in her class before, it has always been necessary to explain their differences to the rest of the class, but she and Josie have decided to say nothing - Bub is finding his place in the class and there's no need to call attention to his differences.

It's not a bad perk of small-town life when I can pick up a dose of reassurance at the grocery store along with my loaf of bread, container of milk, and stick of butter.

24 comments:

Hairline Fracture said...

Oh, how wonderful that you can find out how he's doing and feel reassured. It sounds like he has wonderful teachers who really GET Bub.

Magpie said...

That is a nice thing about a small town.

Mayberry said...

It is extraordinary how many people I see at the grocery store. I don't think I have EVER gone there without running into at least one person I know!

Karen said...

oh, Bub, how wonderful.

planetnomad said...

What a wonderful reassurance! Sounds like Bub has great teachers.

And yes, even in this large new city, I ran into someone I knew at the grocery store the other day! It was really bizarre, as I don't know anyone yet, it seems.

Niksmom said...

Delurking to tell you how much this touched my heart. Such a wonderful report from his teacher; even better that Bub is finding his own way. :-)

Mouse said...

We're always managing to run into the mother of one of the kids who drives me crazy, of course. But we do sometimes see his OT out jogging--she lives a few streets over. She also called me to make sure I knew about possible school supports after I told her we'll be getting Scooter evaluated soon.

I figure that a big plus of being in a small town for early elementary years is that the kids won't see Scooter as weird, but just as Scooter.

Janet said...

There are benefits to small town living. I haven't lived in a small town for many years, but the familiarity and lack of formality was lovely.

Oh, and props to you for the Sesame Street reference at the end. I say that in my head all the time. Classic.

Janet said...

PPS How wonderful that Bub is adjusting so well!

wheelsonthebus said...

How lovely that she shared that with you today.

And my non-autistic child is doing plenty of pushing and poking, so I totally get your worry over that.

kia (good enough mama) said...

That's wonderful news! It's amazing how great it feels to know that our kids are fitting in and making friends, isn't it?

MamaDrama said...

Way to go Bub!! And to Mrs. Rowe for setting him up for success! I know that's what you were hoping for kindergarten, but it's so wonderful to see it happening.

Omaha Mama said...

Awwwww.
Now I might cry.

Stimey said...

That is really cool. For so many reasons. I can't tell you how happy it makes me.

And the red shirt thing makes me laugh. As does Pie's apparent anger at the mom.

Chaotic Joy said...

Wonderful. I'm all misty. How wonderful for Bub and for you.

wordmama said...

Isn't it amazing how under the supervision and guidance of one knowing and understanding teacher, kids can bloom?!

I still remember my teacher that changed my life. She did nothing more than listen to us. Really listen to us - the way adults rarely do when dealing with 10 year old kids. She gave me confidence in myself which led to self worth and, I believe, helped me to become the confident person I am today.

Here's hoping that Bub's new small town teachers are that key for him too. The one that helps him unlock the wonderful treasures he holds inside!

Andrea said...

That is lovely. I'm happy that he's doing so well and that you have such a convenient conduit to finding out.

Beck said...

Very, very nice.
When The Baby goes to the store with her dad, she always gives me a running list of all of the people she knows who they encountered on their Big Trip.

Karen Sugarpants said...

I think you and I used to live in the same town (starts with an L). We just moved to a small town too and I'm dying to know where you are and if we're close to each other?
Email me!

Bon said...

smiling, Bea. both at the sesame street flashback and at the hope that this experience will continue to go this well for Bub.

The Small Scribbler said...

Oh, the dose of reassurance. It does a body good.

Kate

sandbetweenmytoes said...

That's so good

Susanne said...

That's so touching. When I read "that Bub bit" I thought, "Oh no!" I would never have thought that this would be followed by "he is fitting in so well". How great that he has such a teacher and that you are meeting people in the grocery store.

That said, I'm a bit ambivalent about meeting students or their parents in the grocery store. I often don't recognize the parents (most of my students are teenagers and so I don't see their parents very often) and so those encounters are mostly a bit awkward. But then it was the teacher approaching you. That makes a world of difference.

bren j. said...

How encouraging!

Small towns can be so tough to break in to. I'm glad you're feeling at home already.