One of the most frustrating parts of having a child who is not really usefully verbal is never hearing about what she does when she isn't with me, firsthand anyway. I adore hearing about my kids' days, but with Janey, the time we aren't together is usually a mystery to me. I hold onto any tidbit I can get from teachers or paras or therapists, but the parts that are usually the best to hear about are the little incidental things, and it's also always telling what gets chosen to tell me by the boys. You can guess a lot from what names you hear a lot and what classes are never described. Janey, though, remains completely silent about her school days almost all the time.
This summer, though, she is saying a bit more on our rides home from summertime school. It's not telling me about the day, but it's echolalia that I am pretty sure comes from school. However, out of context, it creates puzzles that are near impossible to to solve, although it's fun to try. Today, she kept yelling out "Roll the dice! Okay, TWENTY FIVE CENTS!" and at one point, "Have you got any chips?" I'm assuming it was some kind of math game, and not that they were teaching the kids some low-level gambling. I've also heard a name over and over---Elliott. I was trying to figure out if he was a character on TV or a video, or a real live person. That got solved today when I saw a little boy as I went to get Janey, sitting with her class, with an "Elliott" name tag. That was pretty exciting to me---it was one of the first times I've heard from Janey about a child in her class that was a name I didn't already know. I've heard quite a few quotes with his name is it..."Elliott! Don't do that! That's not funny!" (followed by Janey laughing her head off, as I guess to her it certainly WAS funny) and "Elliott! Come back over here right now!" I couldn't resist, as we were walking out, saying to Janey in that tone that comes from who knows where "Is Elliott your BOYFRIEND?" If I were writing a book of parenting advice, I would certainly say not to tease kids that way, but hey, I'm human. Janey is the 3rd child out of three I've found myself teasing about the opposite sex.
One of the most wonderful things teachers can do is to tell parents of special needs kids about what their kids do during the day. I've been pretty lucky that way. One thing I'm very conscious of at school is not asking for special treatment. I know in the mornings and afternoons, teachers are getting lots of kids in and out of classrooms, and I try hard not to take up their time then asking questions. But I hope other parents, and teachers, do understand that what they tell me or what I tell them is often the ONLY way communication goes back and forth, unless it's something written down. Just a few times, I've gone to school different years and found every other kid wearing some special thing for some special day, or I've found out after the fact that a party date had been changed and Janey hadn't brought what she should have brought for it, or that an afterschool activity had been cancelled. This happens very rarely, but even the few times felt tough for me. Probably not for Janey, but when you have a child with special needs, you especially want them to be wearing silly clothes if that is what the day features, or to have a treat to give out if everyone else does, or so on. Sometimes, a child's special needs creates special needs for the parents, specifically, a special need for communication. Janey's teachers have used email more over the last few years, and I love that. It can be read when there is time on both sides, it's there to refer to again if you need to---it's great!
One of my biggest dreams for Janey---that one day she'll actually, directly, tell me something about her day. She'll say "We had music today" or "I played with my friend at recess". I would love that so much. Until then, I'll live for the little scraps she is starting to throw my way!