Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Walk a mile in her shoes (and bring tissues)

Hey, have you noticed what we haven't been talking about around here?

Kindergarten.

You know, that life-altering thing that begins in eleven days? Oof.

We've officially entered pre-season, which seems to consist of fairly normal days and conversations surrounding the excitement of kindergarten, and clockwork nightly breakdowns of tears and nerves and anxiety and general refusals to age beyond today's exact age.

One primary concern has been footwear. We haven't discussed E's sensory quirks lately, but they manifest in very specific ways when it comes to shoes. They can't be too pinchy, too tight, too narrow in the toe or high on the vamp or high on the ankle. And most critically, they can't make her feet hot.

E pretty much wears Crocs or fisherman-style sandals a half-size too big year-round. And just like she's never, ever worn jeans (too rigid, pinchy, constricting, hot), she's never, ever worn sneakers.

Hey, in this kindergarten, kids have gym class every other day! Awesome! And they must wear sneakers.

Oof. And oof again.

But as inconsequential as such a thing might be for most families, the notion of wearing sneakers has had E sobbing every night. So when I got an email today from E's new kindergarten guidance counselor, asking if she could do anything to help us with the transition into school, I wrote a paragraphs-long response detailing E's history with sensory sensitivities and asking how sneakerish her shoes really needed to be.

If they stay on her feet securely and have rubber soles, is that enough?

It's tiring, sometimes, to defend the normality of my kid who struggles with a few details that most other people never even notice. It's exhausting. But oh, I love this school so much already and if there's any place that will welcome her as the person she is, this is it.

The guidance counselor consulted with the head of the physical education program, who offered to meet with E and me to discuss sneaker and sneaker alternatives together. They thanked me for bringing this to their attention, citing that they appreciate knowing details like this so they can help their new students have a smooth beginning.

They didn't treat me like I was over-reacting or exaggerating or filled with hyperbole. They just turned their attention to our little-big problem so that we can work together to make it the little-little problem that footwear should be.

So, of course, I responded like anybody would: I read the email and cried at my desk. I'm trying so hard to stay calm for E, to seem unflappable, and it's exhausting.

I know, I know, that once E gets through the first few weeks, makes a friend or two, and understands what a day is like and what's expected of her, she's going to do great. But from now until, oh, October 1, or so, if you're nice to me I might burst into tears. You've been warned. Pin It