Nick had his first day of high school today.
It was a freshmen-only day that began with an assembly. Then there were special activities led by juniors and seniors who had volunteered to be a welcome committee of sorts. Then another assembly (really) and then lunch.
Yeah, Nick skipped all that.
In the afternoon, they had a mini-schedule where the kids went to each period for 10 minutes. Nick is on a modified schedule, so he doesn’t have 1st period classes, he does one elective at home, and he has two classes online that he does in a computer room at school. That leaves 3 “actually in the classroom” classes, and two of those are with the same (science) teacher. Luckily, two of them were meeting consecutively in the crazy twisted-around schedule they came up with. So he went to two of the 10-minute periods today just to set foot in the classrooms and meet the teachers.
I dropped him off at the front entrance, then found a shady parking spot and did crossword puzzles while I waited. There were groups of wide-eyed freshmen being led around by peppy upperclassmen in bright matching t-shirts. I thought about Nick’s first day of school last year, when he was so anxious he refused to get out of the car at first, after a morning of panicked rage at home. I remembered sitting in the car after he finally got out, certain my phone would ring shortly to tell me he was erupting. He had his great IEP in place but this was a new school and he didn’t trust it yet. In the end he had a fantastic 8th grade year, but on that first day I sat in my car for 45 minutes, taking deep breaths, sending stressed-out texts to my friends, not really believing it would be OK.
Today, although I could tell Nick was anxious, I projected confidence and positivity and he followed my lead. He was silent and stiff most of the way to school, but when he said “green one” and slugged my shoulder upon spotting a certain car, I knew he was going to be fine.
After attending his two mini-classes, he met me out front. On his way to the car I saw a kid speak to him, and he shook his head, backed away and looked suspicious. The kid walked away and Nick opened the car door and said in a rushed voice, “Let’s go.” I saw the other kid turn to look back at Nick curiously, but it was not the time to ask Nick about it. I was prepared for a silent ride.
But he surprised me! After two minutes he commented that the halls hadn’t been that bad (as far as crowds go) and that the bell was perfect because it just makes a brief tone instead of ringing on and on. After another two minutes he said he had already forgotten his science teacher’s name, but he laughed it off with a “whatever.” Once home, he curled up on the couch around a cat and stayed there for a while. Then he picked up the book he had been reading before and headed to his room. I just calmly went about my business… while on the inside I was cheering, complete with backflips and high kicks.
Twenty minutes, plus 5 minutes between classes, with just a taste of what the halls will feel like when everyone is there. The perfect first day of school.