After two weeks of school, we attended open house and visited Martin’s classroom.
Various parents knew each other already and formed their little collectives, to chit-chat about teachers and classroom behavior plans and extracurricular activities. Adrian was late (work), and I knew only one other mom, who herself was late, so effectively I knew no one. I nudged into a few groups, alternately smiled and looked concerned, then sat at Martin’s desk.
He shares a desk with a boy named Lucas, I discovered. I introduced myself to Lucas’s mother, a lovely Central American immigrant. Lucas, the told me, understands Spanish but prefers English (like Martin, these days) and talks about Martin. I suggested getting Lucas and Martin together for a play date. She agreed but warned me that Lucas has had speech and language delays, is socially immature, and has been held back a year in school. I assured her that Lucas’s immaturity would be no problem at all.
The teacher made a presentation about expectations and how she runs the classroom. (In the middle her talk, Adrian managed to show up). Then she invited the parents to explore the classroom. Adrian and I took advantage of the time to bombard the teacher with our questions. How is Martin adjusting? Is he finding other kids with whom he can eat lunch? Can he keep up?
The teacher told us that Martin had needed to do a lot of adjusting, in terms of independence. The first day he had expected someone else to unpack his backpack, and to accompany him to the bathroom, and to make sure his lunch ended up with the other lunches. He had stepped up and learned quickly. (I’ve been realizing that Martin’s old school coddled him too much.) Academically, the teacher said, Martin is “solid.” (I should hope so. He’s repeating second grade.) He is a pleasure to have in the classroom.
Are you sure? we asked. He’s not disruptive or giving you any trouble? He’s able to follow the instruction?
“He’s fine,” the teacher said.
Fine? What does that mean? Is there anything we can be doing to help? Because sometimes “fine” means everything is okay, and sometimes it means there’s trouble. If there’s any trouble, we’ll step in and—
At this point, the teacher’s expression migrated from solicitous to amused. “‘Fine’ means he’s doing fine. Really.” Then she added, “I think you two need to chill out.”
Yes, Martin’s second-grade teacher told me and Adrian that we need to chill out.
At which point we decided to back off and chill out. We wrote a note to leave in Martin’s desk. We mingled with parents. The other mom I knew had arrived by then, and she introduced me to a couple who are seeking a new psychiatrist for their daughter’s neurodevelopmental work-up. I recommended Dr. PS.
As we walked to the parking lot, I said to Adrian, “I think the only way that could have gone better would have been if she told us Martin had been elected class president.”
Martin atop the Empire State Building. Sky’s the limit.