Today was the last day of ESY! It was not a regular day though. They set up a little carnival for the kids with music, games, chalk paint, tattoos, and one of those jumpy house thingies. The kids' parents were also allowed to come and spend the morning with their children if they wanted to.
Billy's mother had told me that she was coming. Meanwhile, Billy was having a rough morning. First of all, he wasn't feeling well... he was sneezing a lot, his eyes were all swollen, and he kept putting his hand on his forehead like he had a headache. Second of all, he could tell it was a weird day and the routine was totally off. He kept wanting to leave the room, and he kept asking me for "squeezies." (Sometimes when Billy was really hyper and having a hard time, I would kind of hold him in front of me and sway him back and forth, singing "Squeezies! Squeezies!" It seems to provide some sensory relief for him.) He has come to realize that squeezies make him feel better, and will request them when he's upset once in a while... but this morning he practically wanted nonstop squeezies! He kept telling me, "One more time? One more time?"
When it was time to go out for the games and stuff, we tried to bring Billy, but he would have none of that. He screamed outside and tried to run into the parking lot to get away from us, crying, "No outside!" By that point I figured it would be safer to take him back to the class, at least until his mom got there. There was no sense in forcing someone to attend a carnival!
So we went back to the classroom, where Billy happily scribbled on the whiteboard and rearranged the calendar numbers into a nonsensical order. Billy's mom didn't come and didn't come and didn't come.
Then a guy walked into the classroom. I didn't know him, but he had a school employee badge. He asked, "Are you guys going out, or coming in, or what?"
I explained, "He was having a hard time outside, so we're waiting for his mom to get there. Maybe he'll try it out then."
The guy walked up to Billy, extended his hand, and said, "Hi, I'm Mr. Jones. And you are?"
Billy slapped him five and babbled something about wanting to put coffee in the microwave.
Mr. Jones asked, "Check schedule, Billy! Time to go outside!"
"No outside!" Billy yelled.
"Time to go outside! Come on!" said Mr. Jones.
"No outside!" Billy yelled.
This went on for a while, with me interrupting to try again to explain that Billy couldn't deal with "outside" right now and that it was probably safer to let him stay in the classroom, at least until his mom came and could help keep him from running off.
Finally the guy asked me, "Who is your teacher?"
I assumed he meant the teacher I was working with, and I told him. The guy walked out of the room, muttering to himself.
Eventually Billy's mom did show up, with her four younger children in tow. (I never knew Billy had siblings, although a few times when I asked him he told me he had a brother named Danny, and he sometimes used to say, "D for Danny!" while playing on Starfall.com.)
Billy's mom was very friendly, and thanked me profusely for looking after Billy all summer. She even asked me if I would consider applying for a job as an aide at Billy's school! (I told her I was hoping to get a teaching job, but you never know.) She said she had guessed that Billy wouldn't enjoy the carnival, and asked if she could take him home early. So I hugged Billy goodbye. After he left, the classroom felt so lonely! I couldn't bear to look at the scribbles Billy had drawn on the whiteboard just moments earlier!
After the rest of the class, and several of the other children's parents, came back into the room, I told the teacher what had happened with Mr. Jones. I asked her if she knew who he was. She told me he was the superintendent of the school district! Uh... I am not sure what to say about that.
For weeks, I have thought that when the ESY program ended I would feel nothing but relief and happiness. I imagined myself running from the school, yelling, "Good riddance!" But as I watched the kids leave, one by one, I actually felt sad. It was a rough summer. I know I talked before about feeling that the program wasn't really helpful for Billy, and that I thought the aides were giving me dirty looks because I couldn't get Billy to do all the things the other students were doing. But the teachers, the other aides, and I really bonded by the end. It may have been a trauma bond, but it was a bond.
The teacher told me that Billy's mother had spoken to her, saying that she thought I had helped Billy so much during ESY. His mother apparently told the teacher that she had expected weekly or even daily phone calls about Billy's behavior, and maybe demands that she pick him up early. But she said Billy came home very happy each day after school. (Which is surprising to me, seeing as how he asked to go home all day long!)
The teacher also told me that one of the school social workers, who had helped out a little bit in our classroom, had mentioned to her that he thought I did a great job with Billy. The teacher added that this social worker rarely complimented others, so if he said I did a great job, he must have really been impressed!
In fact, I think the only person who would disagree with this is the really judgemental gym teacher. Throughout ESY, she continued to snatch Billy away from me on PE days and discipline him, while not even looking at me. Last week, at the end of gym, instead of handing him off to me as the others lined up, she actually took him and walked him to the classroom herself, five minutes ahead of the end of class. She didn't even say anything to me about it, just walked right past me with Billy in tow. Then, when the rest of us got to class, she actually stayed for ten more minutes just to continue disciplining him. I felt so awkward, even though the other aides whispered to me, "Just enjoy the break!"
Oh well. You can't win 'em all.