Thursday, July 21, 2011

Gabe's Story - moving in

It was late at night and the snow was deep when we arrived home. I set out to help Gabe get ready for bed and settled in to Fred's old room. He was cranky and confused. I sat with him for quite a while waiting for him to fall asleep. Finally I assured him that I would just be in the next room. We went several rounds with this conversation as I tried to assure him. Finally I told him, "you will be okay. I will be in the next room." I wished that I didn't have to work the next morning. I knew that I needed my sleep to function properly on the job.
In the mean time, my husband had removed the big wooden sword from the back of the truck and secured it in the barn. We debated on the proper way to handle it. The only thing that we were sure of was that we did not want that sword in the house.
When Gabe woke up the next morning, the first thing that he wanted to do was get his stuff out of the truck.I was there briefly while on a break. He did not want breakfast, just his sword and other stuff. He was told breakfast first. "Where are my Pop Tarts?" he demanded. He had eaten Pop Tarts every morning at his old house. In fact it was a ritual that he went to the cupboard, got out a pack from the box, went to the toaster oven and opened them, bit the right corner off of the Pop Tart in his right hand, and then put them in the oven. He shut the door and gave the knob a quick crank. It was both my and Angel's observation that some mornings he had slightly warm pasteries while other morning they were well done. He ate them either way.
There would be no Pop Tarts for breakfast at our house for 2 reasons.
1) We just don't eat Pop Tarts for breakfast often. We try to be healthier than that.
2) While cleaning out his mother's bedroom we had come across information on how a gluten and dairy free diet has helped some autistic children. I was not ready to be gluten and dairy free yet, but I wanted to look into it. It seemed better to leave the old Pop Tart habit at the old house. If we did not end up gluten free, he could have them as an occasional snack at a later time.
I was only home briefly, leaving my husband Dirk to deal with the issues. He was unemployed at that time after 25 years with his previous job. I went to our local school to get Gabe enrolled.
The school was very glad that his previous school had given me copies of all of  his records.I told them that I would like to keep the records, but gave them permission to copy anything that they needed. They were happy to get all of it on the spot. Because Gabe had to be placed in a special class it would take a few days to figure out the best placement based on his current records. His previous teacher had included a phone number so that the school could call and talk directly to him if they wanted to.
Because of the fact that it would take time to choose the right program, the fact that the school had a teachers meeting day, and the mounting snow that resulted in snow days, it was a week before Gabe started school. We hyped up how much fun making new friends would be. He pined for his teacher at his old school. "Just call him, I know he'll come," Gabe said over and over.
"He can't come, it takes 6 hours to get here." We argued over this several times each day. Other discussions that repeated frequently involved topics such as Why did you steal me? Why did you steal my stuff? Why did you steal my mother? What have you done with my mother? and other similar subjects. Nothing that we said made a bit of difference. After a few rounds we would just tell him that he needed to listen and think about what we said. No more asking now. We told him that we knew that he missed his mother very much. We miss her too. We will see her again when Jesus comes and takes us all to Heaven.
The night before Gabe was going to his new school he repeatedly asked if he was going to school the next day, and then followed this with a matter of fact statement that there would be too much snow to go. Sensing that all of our hype had not worked, I asked him if he was excited to go make new friends. He just stared at me. Then I asked quietly, "are you scared?"
"Yes," he said in a tiny little voice.
"It's okay to be a little bit scared," I told him.
"I don't have to go?" he asked.
"You are going to a new school. It is going to be a good place so you don't need to be a lot scared. A little bit scared is okay though. I have to go to work early tomorrow, so Uncle Dirk will get you ready for school and help you get on the bus. I have a break in the morning. Would you like it if I was standing on the side walk at your school when your bus got there. I could go in your new school with you."
After several rounds of this conversation he finally said, "You will be at my school? You can go in with me? Okay."
The next morning I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the school when Gabe's bus pulled up. His new teacher was standing there too. He started to hold my hand as we walked into the school, but then switched to holding the teacher's hand. I felt rejection and yet glad, because it looked like the transition would be reasonably smooth. We walked down the hall towards the classroom.

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