Jay had a rough start with his social skills group. He’s been going for a few months now. But for the second week in a row, when I went to pick him up last Thursday, they told me what a great job he had done.
“He participated really well today.”
“I had to make him sit on my lap, but he sat for circle time without me physically pinning him down.”
“We asked each kid to go around the circle and say hello to everyone and he did.”
“We played a relay game where the kids had to run and hi-five the person on the other side, then go to the back of the line and he did it.”
“We did a sequencing activity where there were pictures of a story and we asked the kids to put the pictures in the correct order and he did a really good job.”
I was beaming.
Jay then came out of the gym area and I asked him if he was ready to go. He told me he needed his jacket. I told him to go get it which he did. Then he asked me if he could get a lollipop. I told him to ask Ms Jackie nicely. He made his way around the reception area and asked very politely if he could get a wowipop. He took off the wrapper and threw it in the garbage.
All this was happening while we were unknowingly being watched by a mom who was bringing her son in for the first time to do an evaluation. I caught her eye as I was wrapping up making my payment and smiled at her. Her son seemed to be about 3 years old and non-verbal.
She asked me how old Jay was and had he been coming to this place for a long time. I gave her the info and then added:
“He’s come a long way this year. Really. For some reason, between age 4 and 5, we’ve seen more improvement in his speech and behaviour than in any previous year. Last year he wasn’t talking at all. He was tantrumming a lot. But now he understands so much more and will tell us what he wants or needs. He answers questions, eats more things and is more reasonable and tolerant. It’s not all because of this place, but they have been great in dealing with him and helping him.”
She seemed to exhale a little. Then she asked Jay his name. He laughed and ran to the other side of the room.
I stayed there talking with her a little bit longer while Jay and another little boy rolled around on the super fuzzy floor mat.
I called out to him and asked if he was ready to go.
I held out my hand and he came to me. I said to him:
“Jay, this lady would like to ask you something.”
She asked him his name again and he said:
“My name is Chay.”
It sounded robotic and scripted, but it was correct.
She held out her hand to shake his but he leaned into her and gave her a big hug.
I was totally surprised. My kid is not very friendly usually. He’s not a fan of strangers but I think it’s just what she needed and he had clearly picked up on that.
We all said our goodbyes and me and Jay walked out into the cold night air, hand in hand, with our arms swinging.
I thought about that mom and her son for the entire rest of the evening. I really hope that I had said something helpful and that the little bit that she had seen of our life provided her with some level of hope and/or inspiration and/or reassurance.
I remember the first time we took Jay to that place. I remember how hard it was to hear the owner tell me all the ways that Jay was behind and all the areas in which he needed improvement and what they would/could do to help him and us. It seems so long ago now.
That mom probably doesn’t know that she gave me a gift that evening. It made me feel really good to talk about my son and all the progress that he has made this year. I felt like I was floating on a warm cloud.