Sometimes I am amazed by how much my son knows not only what he needs but also how to go about taking care of himself to get those needs met. Today was his day off from school (he goes MWF) so I was surprised when he asked if we could go play at his school playground. I told him that was a great idea but we couldn't go during school hours so how about we go this evening when Daddy gets home from work.
Recess is a struggle for my son (and he gets 3 of them/a day). When we've talked with him about recess he says he doesn't join any of the kids or play on the playground but instead spends the whole time walking around. He has always said that he wasn't necessarily sad during recess so at first I thought he was just using that time to unwind from the noise of lunch and all the stimulation from the day that he's not used to. But it's more than that.
So we went to his playground this evening to practice recess. I am in awe of my son for coming up with this. Tomorrow morning will also be the first morning that I will just be dropping him off on the playground with all the other kids and not walking him to his classroom and staying with him until the bell rings (as he's crying). I don't know who this will be harder on - him or ME! Hopefully me. I realized that I need to be communicating to him through my actions that he can do this - he can find his own way, he can make a friend, and that there are other people out there apart from me who will be there for him and enjoy him, etc. So, just dropping him off will be one way of communicating that to him. But I wanted to use this time at the playground to prepare him for this and walk him through how that will go.
So I said, "I'm going to drop you off here and pray for you and give you a big hug and tell you to have a fun day and see you this afternoon and you will walk this way on the playground to your classroom."
And he said, "I will walk sadly to my room."
So I said, "how about this... even if you're sad, how about you hold your head up high and say hi to the people you walk by and remember that Mommy will be back this afternoon to pick you up and you always have a fun day, even if you're sad."
On the playground he saw that he wasn't too short to get up on the swings and he practiced pumping his legs to swing himself and Daddy taught him how to jump off. And he practiced on the jungle gym, climbing and sliding and swinging on the rings and back again, and played it over and over and said this is what he wanted to do during recess tomorrow. And we talked about what he'll do when other kids are on the jungle gym too.
My daughter and I left early to go home and start dinner while my son and his daddy stayed at the playground. As I drove away, I saw my husband and son sitting on the swings talking and laughing and that image has stayed with me all evening. What an important time this was tonight. I'm so grateful my son asked to do this. I'm hopeful this will make a difference for him tomorrow.