Leaves are lighting up in hues that remind me it's October: fiery oranges and crimsons, pops of yellow splashed between that seem to glow in the dark with a navy blue sky in the background. October also means snow, apparently, (a few inches for our friends in the snow belt today! Wowza!), and one of my favorite butterflies-in-the-belly inducing times--parent teacher conferences.
Yesterday I was able to squeeze in a half hour with Isaac's wonderful 1st grade teachers. Miss Edgehouse and Mr. Ratkovsky are energetic, patient, and "really awesome." (I couldn't have said it better, Isaac. :-)
As I sat in the cozy rocking chair, I calmed down a bit in the softly lit room with a fun table lamp on the book shelf next to me. "The harsh lights can get to the kids sometimes. The lamps help a lot," Miss Edgehouse shared at Open House. I remember this as I feel the effects and agree. Both teachers sit and gather their papers and notebooks and we begin...
And Isaac goes wild.
He skips around the classroom, opens cabinets and takes out small dinosaur and wildlife figures and hums loudly...he runs to the corner where a large swing hangs from the ceiling. He crawls in and we hear him making repetitive sounds of glee. I am trying to focus and trying not to call out his name, count to three, and tell him to sit and play quietly. The teachers are pretty unphased and we continue...
We discuss Isaac's progress from August to now in reading and comprehension. He is doing fantastic.
Reading at a 3rd grade level, Mr. Ratkovsky tells me they are working on comprehension and description. I smile, all the while listening to Isaac's noises and excitement. Things escalate as Miss Edgehouse tells me how well Isaac has been doing in Math, and in a few weeks will begin extra enrichment to keep his progress at a steady level and keep him challenged. His science and social studies skills are wonderful too: He knows symbols, concepts, and can talk about them. I see the teachers look behind me as Isaac climbs up and tries to move a clothespin from the behavior chart. "Look, Mom!" He yells, "See, this is where we get to make expected choices!" As he roughly leans over, the chart falls to one side and swings crookedly. Isaac's teachers laugh and shake their heads and talk with him about being careful and gently motivate him to something else. In a few minutes, he's running on all fours, pretending to be an animal...grabbing a ball and tossing it in the air. Bouncing, like the ball, off the walls.
For me, this is normal. Isaac has always been intensely active, usually in spurts, and it is usually out of control. As we continued to talk, I was amazed to hear that this was a side of Isaac his teachers weren't familiar with.
"We haven't seen him like this. Ever."
"Is he like this at home?"
"This gives us a whole different perspective of Isaac!"
"Does he play any sports?"
I am amazed. I ask, "He doesn't get active like this in class?"
Their answers leave me puzzled. "Isaac very rarely has days where he can't follow directions. He sits in his seat, does his work. He is good at telling us when he has completed a task and can quietly raise his hand and move on independently. When he is tempted to make an unexpected choice, he is aware and changes his behavior. He does like to do a lot of copy-cat behavior with his friends, but he knows when to stop."
Again, I am amazed. Happily amazed.
As we wrap up the meeting, I chat with Miss Edgehouse. She mentions to me that he can have chatty days, and I laugh and say, "Pretty amazing for a boy who was non-verbal and had his greatest delays in expressive language, huh?" She almost didn't believe me.
As Isaac and I walk (he skips) to the van, a ball of tightly wound energy that could barely hold my hand. I tell him how proud I am of him, how much I love his teachers and his school, and how he makes me so glad to be his mommy. He beams.
When Isaac is home, he cuts loose. He needs that outlet--he needs to be able to "let it all out" after a long day of focusing, working, listening. It helps me remember just a bit more that it's okay for him to get a little out of control. He is working on the control part in the places that matter, and I am working on the patience part with the knowledge of hearing it's working.
"Kick off your Sunday shoes", everyone. And keep learning.