Mama Learned A Lot On Field Trip Day

Micah had a field trip to the science center toady. That's fun with a capital F, right there. Despite the fact that he's in Special Ed class at school, he mainstreams with his regular 4th grade class for things like gym, art, music, and of course field trips. This was the first one of the year, at just a few weeks in. For the 4th graders, it's turning out to be a fabulous year so far.

Micah did well mainstreaming at his other school, but I wondered how things would be at our home district. This is the first year that special kids are even in the school, much less in classes with "regular" kids. Maybe it's my age showing, but I remember the original mainstreaming of special kids. That was way back in the day when these kids were allowed to be in schools for the first time ever. (GET OFF MY LAWN.) It was midway through the year when we got several new students in our class. The idea of new students was intriguing, because we were such a tiny little school that any excitement was fun. But they were most certainly  not what we were expecting as far as new students. Some of these students couldn't talk. I was in 4th grade at the time. The ones who did talk did so much differently than the rest of us. Lisps and stutters and slurs interspersed their sentences enough to make it difficult to understand them. The fascination with the new kids wore off within hours, and it went downhill quickly from there. The worst kids in class made fun of their differences, and the rest of the kids simply gave them a wide berth. Nobody socialized with them. Nobody wanted to be their friend. Nobody wanted to be the one stuck with them as a partner in gym class or sitting beside them at the lunch table.

I distinctly remember feeling so sorry for those kids. They didn't choose their lot in life any more than the rest of us did, so making their life even more miserable by unkindness was incomprehensible to me. One of the boys rode our bus. I have thought of that boy so many times over the past few decades. So many times. His name was Michael. He had the most awesome curly hair, and the best smile, and was happier than anyone I knew. I really liked Michael. I made a point to say hi to him every day, but he lived in his own world and was pretty much unaware that I spoke to him. I was, on occasion, belittled for being kind. That, too, was incomprehensible to me.

This is what I was remembering as I enrolled Micah in our home district. Would he be looked at as the new kid that didn't measure up to pre-conceived expectations?

I picked up Micah after school since his bus came in late from the science center. I waited, along with other parents, to see my kid come off the bus. He was thrilled to see me, but only to show me what he bought with his souvenir money. Then he ran into the school to get his book bag, leaving me to tag along behind. Clearly it was the best place to be.

I watched as other 4th graders ran by with their parents in tow, calling greetings to Micah, introducing him to their parents as "he's such a cool kid" and high fiving him as they all walked to the classroom.

I will never cease to be amazed at the outpouring of love and acceptance directed at my boy. Our community rocks. Hard.


Mary said...

Well you've successfully made me cry. Great post!

Kris Hurford said...

Isn't it awesome?! My youngest son is Autistic and has been with the same "group" of kids since 2nd grade. They (and so many of the other kids at the school) have always been so supportive of him. From teaching him how to play tag, to bragging to others about what a great artist he is. This has gone on through the years. When he graduated with his class (even tho he is continuing on in high school for several more years), those kids yelled, cheered, clapped, hooted, and hollered for him as his name was called and he walked across the stage...made me cry at all their support. Are there kids who don't like him, steer clear of him? Yes...but the majority have always been supportive and it is a great thing ot see. I hope for Micah the support, encouragement and friendship my son has been given thru the years.