Change is hard. Most of us like our routines. I do. But for Jian, it is especially hard. Anything that is unpredictable sends her into a bit of a panic. And it’s not fun helping her get through it. When school let out for summer, we had about 4 weeks leading up to it of anxieties and all the behaviors that accompany it. Then, for about 3 weeks leading up to school starting back, we dealt with the same thing.
It took me about 5-6 days to buy all of her school supplies and school clothes. We would make a goal, get ready for the day, get to the mall, and after a couple of hours, she would settle on maybe 2 shirts that she would agree to wear. They can’t be too tight. Or too loose. Or too scratchy. Or V neck. Or scoop neck. Or too hot. Or a color she doesn’t like. The night before school started, she had a panic about what shoes she was going to wear. She was insisting on wearing the familiar ones from last year, but even she couldn’t tolerate the pain in her feet after wearing them for about an hour before admitting that they were too small and that she would have to change to some new ones. Of course, every pair she picked out was not available in her size.
As we were waiting to find out her teacher for the year, she commented about one teacher in third grade who was across the hall from her last year. She didn’t know of any other third grade teachers. We had also run into this teacher at Target one time, and Jian acted like she had just seen a movie star. So we were very relieved when we found out that Jian would be in her class this year! And with two sweet girls that were friends from first and second grade! When we went to Meet the Teacher Day, Jian walked right in without a fuss. A big change from last year when she refused to walk in with her crutches. And the year before when I had to carry her because she was terrified and didn’t speak English and was physically unable to walk. Everyone made her feel right at home.
On the first day of school this year, she jumped up at the first ringing of the alarm. She got ready and put her backpack on her back (the same one she has used for the past 2 years) and walked out to the car in a great mood. She told me at the end of the day that “Third grade is pwetty good.” She told me all about these “round fings with chicken” she ate at lunch and asked me about how to assemble a binder with dividers and what it is going to be used for. Today was even better. I told her that I had missed her, and she said, “No need to miss me. I just at school having fun.” She’s excited about her planner and homework assignments and all the new things she is learning about already.
I am often tempted to feel sad that I missed out on 8 years of her life, but only having been outside the 4 walls of the orphanage for 2 years, she is still seeing and learning about simple things for the first time, and that is so fun to watch. I can’t wait to see what great things are in store for all of us as we settle into this change of having a third grader this year!