Yesterday, Patrick went back to school. As I said before, to help protect him and ease the transition, he’s only going to attend school part-time for the rest of this school year.
So, yesterday we headed out about 10 a.m. We stopped at the grocery store on our way to get snacks for the classroom. (Since they are instructed not to feed him anything not parent-provided or approved.) Then, since we’d had a little mishap with Patrick’s g-tube coming disconnected during the night and feeding his stuffed animals instead of him, we swung by McDonalds to get him some french fries to tide him over.
Finally, it was time to go into school. We checked in at the office. Because he’ll arrive late every day, we will check in every day. And then we headed over to the resource classroom.
His special education teacher had a little Patrick height banner in the door welcoming him back to school. It was fairly adorable and made him feel really special. While he worked with her, I sat down with his new aide to give her a little crash course on his needs.
Then, we headed over to the classroom. As we walked down the hall, a little voice shouted out, “That’s Patrick!” Followed by a little chorus of excited friends announcing “Patrick’s back!’
We were a touch earlier to Patrick’s class than he’d been expected and so we waited at the door while they cleaned up centers. All the while, little friends would sneak away to come hug him and welcome him back. Patrick was dying to go help clean up, but was obedient and waited.
Finally, they gathered at the rug and I sat down to tell them about where Patrick had been. I explained that the doctors had found a new belly for Patrick. That he’d had a transplant, which means that they took the old belly out and put in a new one. One voice chimed in, “I bet that hurt!” And I answered honestly that it did hurt. A lot! Then, I explained that Patrick doesn’t need his IV tubes anymore and is learning to eat and he told them how excited he is to be back at school with them.
We talked about washing hands and being careful about germs. Patrick’s best friend asked if having a cough meant they couldn’t sit together. So we talked about catching your coughs in your elbow.
The feeling in the room was pure excitement. I am so glad that Patrick was able to go back to this class that has so willingly accepted him and embraced him for who he is.
I left Patrick and went to talk to the school nurses and to clean out the supplies that Patrick doesn’t need anymore. And then, before I knew it, it was time to go. And hour is going to go very quickly.
Patrick’s first preschool teacher was waiting to greet him as he came out of school.
This is going to be a different phase for us. Patrick was so excited when he got home that it took a long time to get him settled to nap. When he got up, there was barely time to get dinner made. And then, because he napped late and because he was excited, he didn’t sleep again until almost midnight last night.
Short school days at a school far from home means that it doesn’t make sense for me to come home while he’s in class. I’m planning to use that time to start walking and hopefully get myself in shape a little bit.
But, it also means a minimum of an hour and a half of what used to be my most productive time of day that I don’t have anymore. And it’s going to take some adjustment for all of us to learn to get things done with this new schedule.
Tuesday especially are going to be difficult. My own version of Monday. Because they start with a nurse visit, then school, the Patrick’s home hospital teacher will still come in the afternoon.
But we’ll get there. It’s only a month of school and I can tell you, by the joy in Patrick’s face when he got up this morning, that it is worth trying to make it work. At least, if we can keep him healthy enough.