Henry was "dismissed" from preschool three months ago, after having attended preschool for four days.
Looking back, I realize that I was at first embarrassed and discouraged about his expulsion. But those feelings were quickly replaced by anger and disappointment. For a few days there, I was superbly livid.
And very heartbroken.
When the triplets would traipse off to school and I'd watch my little boy grab his backpack and happily declare, "I go to school, too!" I'd tear up before he would.
It was obvious to us, Henry didn't fit the "mold" so they booted him out, less than a full week in to the program. Their departing gift was an e-mail from the Director that read, "Good luck in the future. We remain optimistic Henry will achieve good academic success!"
To which I thought to myself - but did not reply, Good academic success? Wait a minute. Aren't we talking about PRESCHOOL? What exactly does "good academic success" mean as it pertains to a three-year-old?
Does it mean that he'll eventually blend with the general population and be able to attend a "normal" school? Or, does it mean that he'll score a full academic ride to a prestigious university so his father and I can blow his college savings on a sail boat?
When I signed him up for preschool, I was just hoping that it would be a good opportunity for him to play with kids the same age for a few hours each week while Charlie got some things done around the house. I had no idea that a three morning a week stint at a local church was intended to prep him for the Ivy Leagues.
Holy E = mc2 !
A few weeks ago, I took Henry in for his Child Find evaluation. Once we arrived, we were immediately escorted in to have his hearing tested. Following that test (which he passed), we were escorted in to a room so he could be evaluated by a child psychologist. She engaged Henry in a number of play activities, which were designed to test his fine motor skills, gross motor skills and overall behavioral development.
Henry was doing great.
Until, he realized that he was being tested. And then all bets were off as his cooperation came to a prompt conclusion. He dropped to the floor. Laid on the ground. Kicked his legs over his head and started quoting movie lines, "I'm the bad guy! I don't save the day, I don't fly off in to the sunset, and I don't get the GIRL!"
The psychologist looked at me and with a surprised expression asked, "Is he quoting Megamind?" Yep he sure is. Although I'm not sure whether to be ashamed or proud?
She placed a toy dog inside a small ring and asked Henry to take the dog OUT of the ring and place it on a piece of paper. My son swiped it off the table with his elbow.
She very calmly said, "Let's try again, Henry." She placed the dog back in the ring and firmly said as she gestured with her hands, "Henry, I want for you to take the dog OUT of the ring," and then tapping the paper with her finger said, "and place it here, on the paper."
I could see the sparkle in his eyes as he leaned over and picked the dog up WITH HIS MOUTH and then shook it around like a wild animal, before he dropped it on the paper. Then, he fell down to the ground again and shouted, "DO YOU CALL THIS PREDICTABLE?!"
"Well, he did put it ON the paper. Right?" I weakly asked.
The psychologist smiled at me and concluded the interview. In her report she indicated that Henry is a perfectly normal three-year-old boy with no developmental delays. She told me that she believes the school reacted too harshly, but she also assured me that this was a very good thing because we could do better for him.
She told me that she thinks that Henry's behavior is largely a function of our family dynamics. (JUST AS I SUSPECTED.) She thinks that because he is almost three years younger than his triplet siblings, he doesn't want to even try to keep up and would instead, prefer to carve out his own niche.
She provided us with a list of some wonderful preschools in the area that are geared toward working with children who are referred by Child Find. What that means is that these schools have a bit more tolerance and won't respond by immediately kicking a child out of the program if they don't sit still during circle time.
Turns out, there is a huge variance in preschools. Who knew? Not I, because unlike some of my co-workers who have interviewed more than 20 preschools for their children a year before they were actually scheduled to begin, we simply chose the one that was closest to our home. Come to think of it, I didn't even put as much effort in to researching COLLEGE as these people are putting in to researching PRESCHOOLS.
BAD PARENTS. BAD!
Clearly, we're way behind the 8-ball by local standards. So over the past few weeks, Charlie and Henry have been interviewing several new preschools. Wait, let me clarify. Charlie spoke to several new preschools on the phone, but registered Henry for the first one that they actually visited. Interestingly enough, the Director of the new preschool started the preschool that Henry attended for the brief stint in December. When Charlie told her about what had happened at Henry's prior "preschool engagement" she was very surprised and told my husband, "What they did to you, does not happen around here. I am absolutely shocked that they would have expelled him less than a week in to it, before they sat down with you for a consultation, and BEFORE Child Find became involved. That's just unheard of!"
So, that certainly helped to validate our feelings of being tossed out in to the cold.
We suspect that we'll start him in a new preschool next Fall, a few mornings a week, and he'll continue there until he begins Kindergarten in 2013.
While he could begin Kindergarten next year - in 2012 once he is five - we've already opted to "Redshirt" him, like we did his siblings, and hold him back until he is six years old. I really don't understand the big rush sending kids off to school so young? There are children in the triplet's kindergarten class that had turned five a week PRIOR to beginning school. So although we recognize that holding Henry back a year might make him the oldest child in his class, I suspect it will also put him at a distinct academic advantage.
After all, Charlie and I have BIG plans for that college money.