However, the entire time I was wondering if he'd end up participating. I was about 98% sure he would, but the anxiety of this past year snatched a 2% window of worry.
When John and I arrived to get him dinner before the show, he was in rare form. His teacher said he'd gotten frustrated at the practice routines and was clearly upset about the prospect of using face paint for the act.
Instead of arguing with him, John and I diverted his attention away from the issue to give him a chance to calm down and recenter himself. A yummy dinner at some laughs with Mommy and Daddy were just what he needed to recharge.
When we got back to the school, Vince again put up a fight about the face paint. Over half the class had already been painted to resemble ghouls for the act. Vince revolted and didn't even want to go into the classroom. I promised he didn't have to have his face painted if he didn't want to. That made him feel better.
Face-painting is a huge no-no for an SPD kid like Vince. The sensation of wet paint on his face would be akin to nails on a chalkboard for the rest of us. John was frustrated at first, but I pointed out it wasn't a huge deal. Besides, we could easily pick him out since he'd be the only one without his face painted! :)
The next hang-up came when he refused to keep his tattered shirt on. He obviously didn't like the way it felt against his skin. The rough patches of shirt that had caked on paint irritated him. Instead of fighting with Vince, I told John to just slip his normal tee underneath the tattered one.
Poof - problem solved and he was no longer threatening a melt-down.
Sometimes it's hard to remember that SPD is an all-encompassing issue that can make seemingly simple tasks an ordeal. Making small concessions like those I mentioned above made a HUGE world of difference for Vincent. Instead of melting down, he accomplished this:
Obviously, John and I were super proud. This was such a welcome joy for us after a year spent hearing how disobedient Vincent is... how difficult he is... how impossible he is to handle.
Vincent can be a challenge - I'll be the first to admit it - but he's not an impossibly broken fragment of humanity to be discarded as unworthy of a solid effort. The teachers at this school have consistently worked with John and I to ensure Vincent's success. They've welcomed his therapists, they've adapted their methods, they've provided outlets for his more challenging moments. The one thing they've never done - and I'm crying with appreciation while writing this - they've never called me to tell me they've given up. They've never thrown in the towel in exasperation, effectively saying he's not worth their effort.
They've actually done the exact opposite. They've welcomed Vincent with enthusiasm. They've celebrated his accomplishments and redirected his mistakes. They've wrapped him in hugs, returned sticky kisses with smiles, and reinstilled a sense of trust and love in teachers.
The last year, he really truly thought he was bad. He believed that teachers / students didn't like him which led him into believing there was something wrong with him. My baby...
He no longer fears going to school. He no longer worries about being sent home or getting into enough trouble to be "kicked out." He's back to being at ease making friends and engaging in social situations. I am eternally grateful for this.
Again, SPD is not an educational death sentence. It certainly felt that way last year as John and I were shown the door again and again, but persevere. Your child needs you to fight for them; no one else is going to.
And I'll continue to fight for Vince. He begins kindergarten on September 2nd... kindergarten. I almost can't believe it. A few months ago, John and I were debating having him restart preschool. A few months home with me and transitioning him back into his old school made such a difference. He's back on track.
Thank You, Lord, for consistently guiding the way.
Prayers for all of you embarking on the new school year. <3