Thursday, January 12, 2012

Yesterday was the first snowfall of the winter season. I watched it anxiously last night, worried about driving the 80-mile round trip to Jacob's school this morning in far below freezing temps, and praying my vehicle would keep us safe and warm.

And now here I am, two hours after Jacob waved me a happy goodbye, lounging contentedly at Village Inn, eating banana pancakes, alone.


I love being alone. Even if I knew someone here in small-town Iowa to invite to breakfast with me, I wouldn't.  There are several other patrons in the restaurant around me, and I can hear the low hum of their conversations and the distant clinking of dishes in the kitchen. This gentle buzz of life and activity makes me feel wide awake and part of a community, while enjoying the peace of not having to entertain or care for anyone but myself.

I get the impression that most of the people here are "regulars." Its kind of comforting, seeing them greet each other like old friends and waitresses delivering coffee or hot chocolate to their tables even before their jackets are off. Maybe this little city will grow on me.

I'd hang out in local cafes' every day if it was in the budget to do so. Reading the local news, catching up on emails, and updating my neglected blog. And, of course, savoring the banana pancakes (which are perfectly soggy with maple pecan syrup.)

It is Jacob's 8th day at his new school. It has gone remarkably well, but for one day. Three days in he decided he didn't want to get in the car for our 45 minutes drive to the school. Being the stubborn, strong kid that he is, I couldn't force him.

I called his new teacher, Erin to let her know what was happening and that Jacob would be absent, and she decided right then that she would come get him herself. She explained that if he knew he could fight me to stay home, he'd continue to do it.

She was right, of course, saying we couldn't let him win this one. He would have to learn that he could either ride with me in relative comfort, or be forced to leave me at the doorstep and ride with 4 people he barely knows. (And I should note here that never, ever, in any of the past schools Jacob has attended, was the staff willing to do anything close to this to help me out.)

As I waited for her, and three assistants, to arrive at my door, I was preparing for the worst.

And it was THE WORST.

Imagine an intense, emotional movie scene where there is a crazy mental patient and the guys in white coats are there, wrapping him in a straight jacket and tearing him away from everything familiar to put him in a van and transport him to the nut house forever. It was like that.

Jacob was screaming, crying, and it took all four of the adults, who are carefully trained in ways to restrain a student without hurting him, to manhandle him into the van.

He was scared, completely unsure of what was going on. I was feeling regret at allowing this to happen to my son. They closed the van door as he was crying out, "mom! mom!" As soon as they were out of my line of vision I broke down.

This child is like an extension of myself. My most constant companion and a huge chunk of my heart. How could I let them take him away from me in this manner? Surely I was damaging him for life.

I cried and regretted it for a good 20 minutes, at which point a text came in on my phone. "Jacob is fine. He stopped crying after 10 minutes and is playing a game. You can breathe."

Of course, then I cried more, with thankfulness and relief that my baby was OK and I was not a terrible person.

When I picked him up that afternoon he seemed completely happy and not scarred in any way. Another few tears of gratitude escaped. I crossed all my fingers and toes that it would only take that one time to convince Jacob to get into the car with me every morning.

I haven't yet uncrossed my extremities, but things are looking hopeful that he is adjusting to this new routine. I know that he will make great progress as he continues to attend this school, and I am so pleased at what has been accomplished so far.

And so here I sit, now done with my breakfast and my belly full, thinking about how I can fill the rest of my day.

But, wait! I am realizing that I don't have to rush anything. It could be like this Monday through Friday for months on end! And this cold winter afternoon seems just perfect for a nap.



Jenny said...

I was seriously holding my breath the whole time I was reading about Jacob getting so upset! How terrible!! Also how awesome that they actually came to get him, I can't imagine his old teacher doing ANYTHING close to that. Hopefully, even though it was hard, it will help him learn that he just needs to get in the car and go with you!

I like being alone too. I go out to eat or to the movies alone all the time and almost prefer it to being with people. Actually I do prefer it a lot of time.

Went to Great Wall with Brian the other night and missed you guys. I think I talked about Maddie the entire time. :)

btw, I think I mentioned I read a blog written by someone that lives in iowa. ( She never says exactly where she lives, but I think she actually lives really close to you guys! She mentioned wanting to adopt a dog and someone that seemed to know her personally referenced an animal shelter right near where you live. Small world!

The Mathews Family said...

Oh Alaina... I'm so happy to hear this! Not the part about Jacob... but you know what I mean. I'm so happy that his teachers were so pro-active. It sounds like you guys are in the right place. I'm dying to come out and visit you. Can you imagine road tripping in the midwest? I can almost taste the Amish poppyseed bread. *drool* I'm also dying to see some of the beautiful scenery through your very talented photography skills. Love you!

shalynn said...

you are such a great story teller! so happy for you and for jacob. even with the traumatic day, sounds like it's all worth it! and what heavenly teachers he has!!

M said...

You are such a beautiful writer! I am so glad you are blogging more. I can truly relate to what you are going through, minus the fact that it only takes three of us to restrain our son when he has turned into a wild animal. And I also sit by the phone waiting to hear the worst, when I have put him thrashing and yelling onto the bus, only to hear that he had a "wonderful day." What an incredible team to drive 40 miles to come and pick him up! Please keep writing. It strengthens me. When I thought I couldn't go one more day (after a four-day school break) I thought of you going months without Jacob in school. Enjoy your alone time! You will feel so many great impressions when there is "air" around you.