Three More Days (#347)

Charlie has been anxious, especially at school: Lots of vocalizations in a high-pitched voice and repeating of whatever is said to him, plus a lot of running back and forth.
I can hardly blame him—-as of tomorrow, Charlie has three more days at his current school and then it is good-bye, forever. I have seen his new classroom, have been in communication with his new teacher and case manager, have taken a photo of the new school for Charlie’s schedule, and everything looks good. Logically, I am glad that he is able to start in his new school before the start of summer, while the regular school staff is present and the schoolday is its full length.

Less logically, I am sad. Charlie’s soon-to-be-former school opened its doors to him at a time when he was struggling so much—behaviorally, academically—that Jim and I could only wonder. Only sigh.

“He’s not the same as he was in November,” my mother noted as we went on a late afternoon walk. I knew she was remembering back to the month she spent with us when we had taken Charlie out of a former classroom and he was at home. My mom is a charter member of the Charlie Fan Club but, during that long November, my mother saw Charlie at his all-out lowest, saw Charlie’s face in a constant state of alarm and fear, saw how Charlie needed–wanted–to be in school.

Charlie is indeed not the same. He has been going to school since he was 4 years old and, after 4 1/2 years, to suddenly find himself at home full-time in November 2005 shook up his system. I remember the day of Charlie’s intake/interview at his soon-to-be-former school back in early December. Charlie started to cry the moment he entered the school’s reception area. One of his home ABA therapists had come to work with him, after which Charlie’s (then-)new teacher sat down with him, and the crying stopped as he found himself doing his familiar routines with flashcards in a chair at a desk.

Charlie will have only been at his school for something like half a year, but I know that the sum-total to his overall learning, development, and life far exceeds the time he has spent there. He is learning to read. He is much more in control of himself. He likes his fellow students. He talks about his teachers. He looks for the red schoolbus. He likes school.

Charlie—despite a morass of big changes—has been and is happy. (If nervous.) After school and a walk to the playground, he wanted to head straight into the car and off (to where, he could not say). But it was not even 4.30pm and, fingering my mom’s watch, Charlie listened to her read him Tar Beach and The Runaway Bunny (my still-favorite). “Let’s sing some songs,” said my mom and picked up a songbook from the piano. “Songzzz,” said Charlie.

She sang the first verse of “If You’re Happy and You Know It”; Charlie sang the next by memory.

She sang the first verse of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”; Charlie sang the next on his own.

She sang the first verse of “Pop Goes the Weasel”: Charlie sang the next by heart.

In no hurry to go anywhere, Charlie hunkered down on the couch, hands pressed beneath his body, laughing, open-faced, and, still, a bit anxious.

Because he knows A Good Thing is ending. Because he knows he will soon be in a new school, with a new teacher, new classmates.

Because Charlie has heart, and his heart will go on singing.


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