Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This is my new shirt!

Question. Why would you put a snow-white, long-sleeved, brand-spanking-new shirt on your second-grader with autism and then send him into the den of ketchup, chalk crayons, and nose blood that is a special education classroom in springtime?

I have been following this child around all morning with a Shout wipe. Because, here's the thing about second-graders (with or without autism):

1. They are natural magnets for ketchup, markers, mustard, chalk crayons, and the grubby little hands of their classmates.

2. Their noses sometimes bleed during allergy season.

3. They can't stand to have spots on their clothing.

"This is my new shirt." That's the mantra of the day.

"Sweetie," I tell him, "Don't rub at it. Let me get the Shout wipes."

"This is -- this is my new shirt." Followed by a nervous giggle. Which tends to be followed by a mega-meltdown.

Quickly, I drop the third-grade spelling list and swoop in with the Shout wipe. Disaster is averted. For the moment.

I turn back to the third-graders and resume their spelling test. "Setting. The setting of my story is in rural West Virginia in the present day. Setting."

Just as my third-graders, without exception, write S-I-T-T-I-N-G on their papers, I hear a very nervous giggle behind me. I turn to find my second-grader surrounded by markers with no lids. He is a rainbow in shades of green -- lime, forest, kelly. He looks perhaps like he was pleased with himself for a moment. But then it sinks in and the giggle pops out.

"This is -- this is my new shirt."

I am out of Shout wipes. We teeter on the brink of crisis.

"This is my new shirt, too," I lie, tugging at my own worn old green school shirt. "See? We match."

The giggle fades. A true smile blooms.

"We match. We must be best buddies."

Crisis averted. At least until his parents see what's become of his brand-new shirt!


Deni Krueger said...

I sub teach at our school and I'm frequently in a room working with two boys with autism. You captured it beautifully!

Betty (Beth) said...

I love the way you tell your stories! Can't wait to get my hands on your book when it releases. :-)

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

This is hilarious! And, umm, is it appropriate to mention that I can not wear a white shirt without getting something on it, either?


I love your writing too. I could just see this little guy feeling proud of his shirt but proud of his artist abilities as well.
New white shirts are not good school attire. My daughter has triplets, age 8, and she learned that quickly. They are bbg. Lots of fun but lots of clean up.

Blessings. You must be a top notch teacher and I'm proud of you!!!

Mary Witzl said...

That is a great story and I could just see it!

Our kids used to go to nursery school in Japan. One of their friends came to school every single day with a freshly ironed WHITE blouse and pleated skirt. This kid longed to run around and play in the mud like the others, but because of her clothes she was forced to play nicely inside. So she went wild with art materials instead and turned out to be the most amazing tomboy. I really loved that kid.

Kelly H-Y said...

Oh, you handled that so well! This just warmed my heart. What a wonderful, multi-tasking, caring teacher you are ... that child will remember you!

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

thanks for the follow

Floot said...

*laughs* wonderful! You couldn't make this stuff up.

Well, actually, you probably could, I couldn't! :D