Friday, September 23, 2005

Back to Work (Journal #3)

In the fall of 2002, I had to go back to teaching, as maternity leave was over. I was not feeling good about it. I had interviewed and found a montesouri childcare and preschool that was very clean, and appeared appropriate and safe. JoAnn was Sam's main caregiver, but the lead teacher position changed 2 times in four months. I didn't like that so well. JoAnn didn't like it so well, as she confided in me. She made it very clear that Sam was one of her favorites. She told me repeatedly that he was a very good baby. She said she liked holding him, because he didn't cry or demand her attention. However, there were other babies whom I know did take attention away from Sam because he was so easy. JoAnn would tell me that she knew Sams routine, and everything always went fine with his routine. He liked his feet rubbed after his bottle. He wanted floor time before his nap, and he didn't want it too dark at nap time, so she always left the door cracked for him. Whenever JoAnn was not there to care for him, if she was sick, I had major reports that things went terrible on those days.

Well, JoAnn left the montessori because of too many changes with lead teachers, and we left shortly thereafter. We left not because of JoAnn, but because he was so content, I had a fear that he wasn't being held much because he didn't need to.

A few months later I found another daycare that was wonderful, closer to home, and one that my older son, now in 1st grade, could attend too. Sam quickly found a favorite teacher again, Marla. He was now in the toddler room. Sam would not attempt to talk. He communicated by humming songs when happy, by taking our hand and leading us and his teachers to what he wanted or needed, and then by screaming. He screamed all the time.

Ruthie was Sam's lead teacher at the time of enrollment. She was wonderful, loving, yet firm with Sam. She communicated clearly to me daily the ways she was developing communication with him. She encouraged me to say to him at home to "use his words" whenever he screamed. What she didn't know, and I didn't tell her, was that we had already been doing that forever.

Transitions were difficult for Sam in the toddler room. The teachers figured out ways to handle him. Nap time was particularly hard. They created a way where they would get everyone down for a nap, while Sam finished eating at the table. He took forever to eat. Ruthie and Marla were usually done getting everyone down for a nap by the time Sam would get done eating. This then allowed Marla to handle him, read to him, rock him, get him to his cot in a one-on-one situation, that is not afforded to all the toddlers. Because of this extra time alone with Sam each day, I believe it is where Sam and Marla became close.

Marla would always tell me when I picked him up, about how he played by himself all the time, and would scream when other kids would come in his space. Marla did not feel this was odd, because she felt as though she understood what Sam was thinking. She would always tell me that he didn't play with baby toys, and that it always appeared to her that Sam didn't have time for the other kids his age because he was more mature. I don't know if she would tell me this to make me feel better, because she knew that myself, and other teachers and the directors there were concerned about his screaming to communicate.

Needless to say, the experience in that classroom was wonderful, and I am amazed at how Ruthie and Marla worked around Sam's rituals and needs.

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