Brown Bear doesn't always like to comply with our rules and routines. Poor guy, school is a pretty demanding place and asks a lot of him. There are days when leaving our classroom is just too much and he refuses to go to music, PE or art. Today he'd refused to leave so he was in my room during first grade math time with my Rock Star.
I haven't written about Rock Star in awhile- but she continues to absolutely shine. She has an intellectual disability but is somehow sweet and spunky all in one. I've noticed that among her typical developing peers she is quiet and reserved- hesitant to even speak. She's fully aware of the gap between her and the other children. It's almost painful to watch her try to hide her difficulties from them. In my classroom however she let's herself shine- feeling safe around peers like herself.
Brown Bear is similar to her in a lot of ways. They both are mostly nonverbal and have intellectual disabilities. They both can be very strong willed when they want to be, but sweet other times.
This afternoon it was time to take Rock Star back to her room which meant Brown Bear had to come to. I didn't think this would go well at all. Brown Bear hates transitions and the idea of walking him to the first grade classroom and back filled me with dread. I looked up and down the hallway for help, hoping someone would be able to take one of the kids but no one was around. So I braced myself for the worst, and told them both to line up. Brown Bear yelled "no !"
Great, I inwardly groaned, this is going to be an amazing way to start my weekend- an end of day tantrum. Rock Star had other ideas. She stood up with one hand in her hip and one wagging a finger at Brown Bear. Stomping her foot she said his name sharply, pointing to his coat. Then as he sheepishly complied with her she carefully helped him into his coat and guided him down the hall. The whole way she kept her arm around him, coaxing him along. Both of them were grinning and I was fighting back tars. I've watched so many friends help Rock Star like that over the years. I've watched it transition from kids being friendly to friends bring inappropriately helpful to her- treating her more like a pet than a peer. I've seen what it did to her self esteem.
But here she was being the care taker of someone else. With just the right amount of firmness and friendliness she maintained the line between friendly helping and mothering appropriately. They both love the relationship- someone out there that gets them.
Seeing a kid look at Rock Star with love and admiration while seeing a kid look at Brown Bear with love and sisterly concern made me tear up. I love my job.