One of the reasons I moved to little “Podunk” Washtucna was to get my son Jake into a smaller school system. Jake has special needs that are especially bad at school. Let’s just say I am used to getting called several times a week to address his behavior to “talk him down” out of whatever hysteria he finds himself in. He also has some learning disabilities that makes reading extremely difficult. He is in the 7th grade and reads at a 1st grade level. I figured that being in a smaller school would reduce the amount of stress – it wouldn’t be as noisy and chaotic – and he could get more one-on-one instruction. So now he attends a school in which there are maybe 70 kids – in the entire school – kindergarten through 12th grade.
I did get calls from the new school. They were unfamiliar with him. He was unfamiliar with them. The transition was difficult for him. It did not take long for the school to figure out that he needed his own Aid to help him throughout the day. And while I had to fight the previous school district to get him one, this little school district just went out and hired one for him. The teachers and staff learned how best to handle Jake – what his stressors were – how to react when he was being non-compliant, etc.
And at this little school, Jake was able to make friends. Because it is such a small town, kids all get to know one another. Jake comes home from school and he is out the door and only pops in once in awhile to get a snack or to go to the bathroom. It is so nice to see him having fun with other kids.
Once in awhile though, something will occur that sets him off. It could be that the lunch lady tells him something different than the lunch lady did at his old school – or that he has to not roll around on the wheeled chairs in the classroom. Whatever it is that ticks him off sets him into a tirade of “Mom, I hate it here! I don’t know why we had to move here! It’s not even a real town! Omak was so much better! Our house is too small! Everyone is so stupid! The school is stupid! I hate it all!”
It doesn’t matter that an hour before he was perfectly happy. It doesn’t matter that he can walk down to the store and get himself a latte before school. Or that he can stay out and ride his bike all over town. Or even that he gets to have sleepovers at his friend’s house. Whatever ticks him off wins out over all that. And it drives me crazy!! Of course I try to stay calm during his screaming and crying. I just listen and state calmly why we are there, that every place is different, that he does have friends and that other transitions in the past were hard too and he got through them okay. He keeps yelling and kicking doors, flashing the lights on and off. After awhile though, something else gets his attention and he calms down. I get him a snack and make sure he is comfortable whether it is to remind him to go to the bathroom, making sure he is warm enough, whatever to help him find his happy place again. After calming down, he is off to play with his friends, like nothing ever happened. Luckily these tirades are decreasing the longer we are here. He is starting to really enjoy school – goes off happy in the morning, comes home happy in the afternoon – AND he is getting his work done regularly. I rarely get a call from school anymore. Moving here has been a wonderful thing for him – hopefully one day he will be able to see it and appreciate it. Even if he doesn’t though, I sure do. And that is why we came to this little Podunk town to begin with.