Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Field trip!

A couple of weeks ago, we were Skyping with Lucy's class, and the connection was awful.  Picture was blurry and choppy, sound was garbled, it kept freezing, and the call dropped about three times.

Lucy is not always on her best behavior for Skype class, but sometimes I cut her some slack - what 4-year-old would be completely attentive to something they can't consistently see or hear?  That day, though, she got quieter and quieter every time we got the call back, as if she thought perhaps if she was well-behaved, the screen would work.

That made me sad.  We do our best to make safe, yet fulfilling choices for Lucy's life, but it can be hard to be sure you're striking a happy balance.  Lucy is miserable when she is sick - worse than that even, she's terrified.  She wakes up choking in her sleep, and that scares her immensely.  So we do our best to avoid her being ill, and we all know that once school is back in session for the year, the germs are rampant.  Little ones are sent to school with symptoms, are contagious before anyone even knows they're ill, and let's face it - small children are not bastions of germ control.  If I had a dollar for every time I heard Lucy's teacher tell someone not to use their finger, to get a tissue, or to cough into their arm... I'd be able to fund Lucy's house addition! ;)

So home we stay, with our Skype connection that has fortunately vastly improved since the beginning of the year, and in-home therapies.  And Lucy usually seems quite pleased with that setup; she can get a bit annoyed when she's not doing something she completely loves, and tends to shut out the offending activity with squishing her eyes shut and loud hums.  For school, she's often chatty when she shouldn't be, but overall enjoys the songs and stories.  She fits right in with the rest of the characters in her class ;)

That day, when class was over, I had a nice chat with Lucy.  I really felt she was listening, which is hardly ever the case - usually she greets my sermons with the aforementioned squishing and humming.  Whether it was because she was tired or not, I took advantage of my seemingly captive audience, and we talked about why she isn't in the class with the rest of the kids, and when I asked her if she understood, she smiled.  I told her we were going to try to take her on a field trip with her class, and asked if she would like that, and she smiled.  I really felt, which is rare, that she listened and gave me honest feedback.


We got over our utter terror at taking Lucy out with a large group of children during a time when it's very probable one of them is ill, and I was making preparations to take her on her field trip.  A week beforehand, we heard that there had been a case of whooping cough identified in our district's high school.  Since we didn't hear anything locally beyond that one confirmed case, we decided to go ahead with plans for the trip to The Little Farmer, a local apple orchard and pumpkin farm.  They were set to learn about apple processing and the bees that they keep there.

The day before, I got an email from one of her teachers, saying that they had decided to cancel the class's field trip, due to various circumstances.  They planned instead to have a fun day on the lawn of their school - would Lucy like to come to that instead?  I said absolutely!  Cutting our travel time to minutes and shrinking Lucy's exposure by a hundred kids was something that was definitely palatable to me!

So we packed Lucy up today and headed to her school, to meet her class in person for the first time.  The kids were walking out to the lawn as we pulled in.  I was uncertain how it would unfold; last year, she had kids from her class not recognize her when they first met her in person, even after Skyping with her all year, because she was laying down, and it can be quite a bit to take in - seeing her with all of her machines on her chair can be a bit daunting for adults, much less children.

The kids had formed a circle for games when we started rolling Lucy up.  I heard her teacher remind them to keep a little distance from Lucy and to keep their hands to themselves.  One of them spotted Lucy and shouted that she was there, and it was all over.  I heard a teacher say "Keep in the circle!" as a few eager kids surged forward.  They were all so excited to meet her and say hi!  The teachers managed to wrangle the kids back, and Lucy got to be a part of her very first class photo.

They put her right in the center of things, which is where she likes to be.

She was really loving being surrounded by a bunch of her peers shrieking "Cheese!"  It was so wonderful to see them all jockeying to see her or be near her, or talk to her.

Lucy also got to be a part of an age-old rite of passage for childhood: the gym parachute.  I loved the parachute when I was in grade school, as I'm sure you did.  Somehow, I remember it being bigger... anyway, Lucy got to grab the first handle - what an honor!

A teacher warned me that the kids got a bit... boisterous... so Lucy settled for guiding 
my hand, so her arm wouldn't get ripped off

Whee!  She loved the parachute!  Since she's a fan of bouncing and spinning and
violent actions in general, I knew she would.

After the parachute, a few girls came up to say hi to Lucy, so we decided to do formal introductions for everyone.  The kids were so cute telling Lucy their name, and it was nice see the faces behind the voices that we hear on Skype.

Since everyone was as settled as 4-year-olds can be at that point, it was time for a story.  There was an old lady who swallowed a pie...

Lucy is not always attentive during storytime, and today there was 
some definite reprimanding.

After storytime, the kids packed up to head back inside.  Lucy got to be in the line.  I know this probably sounds like a ridiculous thing to be excited about, but it's picture-worthy in my book.

They were going to go right through the building, back outside to recess, and we were going to join them, but Lucy was looking a bit tired by that point, so we decided to call it a day and head home for naptime.  Everyone lined up for goodbyes - a familiar chorus we hear every day she does Skype with the class.  They really do love her being there; I was told that the kids were very excited about meeting her today, which made my heart swell with joy.

Now we just watch Lucy for the next week for any signs of illness.  There was some sneezing going on during class, but no one touched Lucy, and we were outdoors, so I'm hopeful that we'll be in the clear.  I feel so blessed that we had this somewhat safe setup for Lucy to meet everyone, and I know she enjoyed it too, although you can see by the last picture that the sun is in her face and she's ready for a nap.

Which she took promptly when we got home.

By no means am I ready to start hauling her into her classroom every day to lick table surfaces, but I'm glad that we took this little step to have her included in her class.  The kids already love her so much from seeing her on Skype, and I really feel like this cemented her as being a part of their class.  Yay for inclusion!

The next post will be when we get our numbers from the Culver's fundraiser we had last night for Lucy's addition!  From the sound of it, a very successful night!