I walked Tommy to school on his first day of fourth grade.
Mainly so he’d know exactly where to go. In Wyoming, he took a bus. Here, since the school is so close, he has to walk.
I think he was a little embarrassed to be seen with his mother. But I wanted to be sure he wouldn’t get lost and have a meltdown.
As most readers are aware, Tommy has Aspergers and if he’s frustrated, he tends to burst into tears. It didn’t matter when he was younger. But Fourth Grade is different. At this age, boys seem to rarely cry and mock the ones who do.
We got to the school easily and I offered to walk Tommy home from school but he shook his head.
“I want to do it.”
I took him to his classroom and was about to give him a hug goodbye but he ducked away.
“Bye,” he said pointedly. His code for “in school, don’t touch me.”
I won’t lie, I worry about him. School doesn’t come as naturally or as easily to Tommy as it does to other kids. He struggles with writing. He doesn’t always comprehend basic instructions. If the teacher talks too fast he gets lost.
As I said before, this is a brand new school. The one in Wyoming knew Tommy. He was there from Kindergarten until Third Grade. Teachers knew his quirks. His Kindergarten teacher would pass him in the hall and wink because she remembered all his meltdowns and was proud because he improved so much.
It’s a clean slate here.
You’ll never meet a more determined kid. Tommy wants to succeed. He wants to fit in.
“If I get confused,” he told me on the walk to school. “I’ll raise my hand. I won’t cry. Not anymore.”
I wish I could tell him that it’s okay if he cries. I feel like such an awful mother telling him to try his hardest not to cry. But I know how kids are.
Honestly, most of Tommy’s friends are girls because the boys take one look at his awkward walk, his stilted speech and immediately think, “Reject.” Girls seem to think of him like a wounded bird and happily will take him under their wing. I feel for Tommy because he sees boys walking together, laughing and joking, but he knows that he couldn’t keep up with the jokes, that if the laughing turned to his expense it might take him a few extra seconds to process it.
“If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to call me. You can go down the office and tell them you need to—” I said as we walked.
“I’ll be okay. I’m going to do this,” Tommy vowed.
“If anyone is mean to you, tell a teacher. I don’t want—”
“I’ll be okay.”
I know there will be struggles throughout the year.
But I’ll take what Tommy told me to heart.
He’ll be okay.
Fourth Grade will be okay.