Good-bye Fourth Grade

by Rachel Nemhauser

school children running and happy to leave schoolGood-bye school year. Good-bye consistent routine and respite care. Good-bye structured learning, dedicated professionals who love my child, and peers who demonstrate appropriate behavior. Goodbye weekly updates, steady reading improvement, and connecting to the neighborhood kids at the bus stop every morning.

Good-bye 4th grade.

School ended a few weeks ago and I’m not happy about it. This school year was hard – of course it was. Nate struggled with his behavior, we battled over homework, and getting him out of bed most mornings was almost impossible. Starting every day packing lunches had lost its charm and waking up at 6 every morning was no fun. I know the school year isn’t really the lush Shangri-La I’m remembering it to be just because it slipped away, but I still wasn’t happy to say goodbye.

This summer I will miss the teachers who worked tirelessly to help Nate learn to read and do math and behave in his classroom. They tried new curriculum and behavioral approaches when something wasn’t working, and they have the endless patience I strive to emulate.

I’ll miss the speech therapist student-intern who didn’t mince words, reminding me that I was underestimating and limiting Nate’s potential by not using his iPad regularly for communication at home.

I’ll miss the para-educator who, while holding back tears, shared the story of her own daughter’s intellectual challenges and encouraged me to feel proud of all we are doing for Nate.

I’ll miss the Principal who filled in for Nate’s 1-on-1 aid twice when no substitutes were available.

I’ll miss the little boys and girls at our bus stop who talk an awful lot for 8:30 in the morning but are always so friendly and warm towards Nate, saying you belong here every morning with their cheerful hellos.

It’s possible that, equal to all of this, I will miss the 7 hours a day that Nate is out of the house during the school year. I love that kid so much but taking care of him can be hard. He can tear up a house, flushing favorite items down toilets, painting exterior walls and cracking a dozen eggs on the floor, all while you do something selfish like go to the bathroom. (Currently he’s really interested in what happens when you fill Ziploc bags with rocks, dirt and water and put them in the freezer for a few hours [hint: they spill all over the inside of your freezer, coating your food with rocky, muddy ice.]) He requires near-constant supervision, and does best when he has the structured routine of school. September feels like a long way off.

But fifth grade is coming soon, and with it the return of my 7-hour daily reprieve. Until then I will savor sleeping in, warm weather, and making lunch when it is actually lunch time. I will take Nate to the beach and roast marshmallows in the evenings because those are things we love doing together, and I will focus on trying to cherish the time. I will also be the first one at the bus stop September 1st, gleefully waving good-bye as the bus pulls away and the school year starts again.

Have a great summer everyone!


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