Friday, January 16, 2015

Amazing moment #2-Finding his Pleasantville

One day in early October, when I picked Hunter up from school, he got into the car and said, "I'm not going to be a good person anymore." I replied, "Excuse me"! He said, "It doesn't pay to be a good person anymore, so I'm not going to be one."

My mommy radar went off. We preach loving one another in our house. Something was going on. He had to be learning this from school. I knew things were not good. I knew he was struggling. It was hard for him to communicate to me exactly what was happening, but it was obvious kids were not being kind to him. I had to do something... and soon!

Several people I knew had recently switched their kids to charter schools in the area. I had heard really good things from all of them, so I decided to give it a try. I called the local charter school first thing the next morning. I knew there was a waiting list for most of the charter schools in this area, so I thought I would go ahead and get his name on the list. Amazingly, the registrar said, "We actually have 2 openings in 8th grade right now." What? Jackpot!! I asked to set up a meeting to speak with their resource teachers and principal. They got us in the next week.

I had spoken with Hunter about switching schools. I knew the change was going to be tough. He surprised me when he told me he wanted to go tour the school. The next week, my hubby, Hunter and I met with 2 resource teachers and the principal to find our more information. During the meeting, they were speaking to him and asking him questions. Immediately, he was laughing and smiling and communicating in a different way.  It was amazing to watch. He was totally in the zone.

They told us that the curriculum there could be grueling. They really step up the academics at this school. It scared me to death. Hunter struggles in that area, not due to intelligence, but just the lack of being able to get information from his mind to paper. He also struggles with organization. I wasn't sure if he would be able to handle it!

Then, they took us on a tour of the school. It was different from anything I had seen. The kids were walking around the hallways with smiles on their faces. Their was a confidence in these kids that was just different. The principal knew them all by name. They were high-fiving each other in the hallway.
As we walked into the classrooms, you could tell that the teachers were happy too! They were smiling and joking with the kids, but the kids were still learning. It was amazing!

As we left the building, my husband and I were joking that it was like we had been in a scene from Pleasantville.  I asked Hunter what he thought of the school, and he said he really like it. I called the next morning to set up a day for him to come sit in on some classes.

About a week later, I took him to the school to observe for a half day. When I picked him up, he was all smiles! He was happy and laughing and talking about all the kids and calling them by name. He was acting like a different kid!

Over the next week or so, I would bring up the idea of switching schools sporadically. He was becoming more and more anxious about the idea of changing schools and leaving the familiarity of his other school behind. He kept telling me he was 50/50 on whether or not he wanted to go through with it. He really liked the new school, but he didn't want to leave his friends (there were really only a couple of acquaintances) behind. I was really torn with what to do. I really didn't want to put undue stress on him. I began to observe his behavior. Every day, when I picked him up, I didn't see the same smile he had on his face when he came out of the charter school.  It took a few weeks from that initial meeting, but my mommy instincts told me we needed to make the switch.

My hubby and I discussed it, agreed, and sat him down to tell him. His anxiety hit top level. Wow oh wow was he not happy. He yelled and screamed and cried and said he wasn't going to go. I felt so bad for him. I knew that deep down in side he really wanted to give it a try, but the change was just overwhelming! I struggled between the stress this was causing him and knowing this was the right choice for him.

It took a few days to get the transfer paperwork done, but by the Monday of the next week, he was starting his new adventure! He hated me for it. The entire weekend before, I think he called me every name he could think of under his breath. He was so angry and scared. I was so excited for him and scared for him at the same time.

Even though my husband and I had both decided this was the best decision for him, in typical form, he was only angry with me. My husband decided that he would take him to school every day the first week. I agreed that it would be better. It took everything I had to not take him on his first day. I had walked him into his first day of school since pre-school, but I knew it was for the best.

I picked him up that first day of school and he came out all smiles. The second day it was the same. By the end of the week, he knew all the kids by name, and parents were telling me how much the kids loved Hunter!!  The following Monday, he was up and ready to go before he needed to be (first time ever)!!! His attitude was completely different! He was happy! Truly happy!

About three weeks later, on the way home from school one day, he said, "Mom, you know how at my old school I didn't really fit in. I would have to try really hard to be like the other kids?" I nodded.
"Well, at this school, I don't have to try. They just like me for who I am. I fit in without really trying. They like me for me." I smiled and nodded as the tears welled in my eyes!