Once a kid starts having a life outside of your home through day care, pre-school, or school, I think it’s pretty normal to ask your kid how their day was. Did you do something fun? Did you learn something new? How was music class? With Nate, I can ask these questions all I want but, with him being nonverbal, I don’t get a response. That leaves a huge void in what I know and what he can share. Enter The Journal.Nearly one year into Nate’s first year in pre-school, we’re on Volume 3 of The Journal, with Volume 2 (pictured above) having gone down in spectacular flames when Nate accidentally spilled an entire cup of water on the notebook. (It dried. It’s being flattened by my dictionary. It’s all good!) Nate’s teacher, Ms. Mechelle, graciously writes his name on each cover in a fun font and Nate’s teachers and I write back and forth to each other every day to share news about Nate in the home and school environment. Because I only see certain therapists when I drop Nate off in the morning and the drop-off is quick, my notes are usually about how Nate slept (through the night and well rested, up from 1am – 3am and exhausted), any wins on the potty, new words or amazing feats that Naate accomplished, and/or any behavioral issues we may be having. Three of his teachers–Ms. Susie (lead therapist), Ms. Mollie (speech therapist), and Ms. Jen (occupational therapist)–all write notes back about what he accomplished that day, progress made toward goals, wins in the potty, and breakthroughs or downfalls. I tend to read the journal as soon as Nate and I get in the car so that I can talk about his day with him as we drive to run errands. But sometimes, Nate’s therapists do something extra special like this:
I mean, come on! What kid wouldn’t immediately see their parent and say, “I SAW DUCKS TODAY! AND I COULD TOUCH THE DUCKS! AND THEY LIVE IN MS. DAWN’S ROOM! JUST LIVE THERE! I SAW A DUCK!!!” So when I saw this printout in Nate’s folder, I made a big deal out of it. Clearly in the pictures, Nate was taken aback by the animals (he has a hard time around most animals, as they’re unpredictable in behavior) so I asked instead if Ms. Julianne (pictured – one of his most favorite therapists!) took him to meet some ducks. I asked if they made noise or waddled and if he and his friends touched the duck. Clearly, Nate doesn’t respond but he does cheer sometimes with a “YEA!” and I strongly suspect that there are answers to my questions scrolling through his head. When Chad got home, we took the duck picture off the fridge and Nate showed it to Dad. Then Dad made a big deal about ducks living in Ms. Dawn’s room, too.
I think it’s pretty rad (yeah, I said it — but isn’t it the perfect use of the word?) that Nate’s school has such a system that allows us to share in our child’s day. Even though he can’t tell us about it, Nate and I can still have a pretty robust conversation about the fun things he did and learned. Yup. Totally rad.