f is for first grade, fears, and fairies

We're back into the back-to-school swing of things over here! (And have been for almost a month...I'm just that great at blogging lately).

Jillian is officially in first grade! All-day school. The real deal. We're hustling homework and running carpool. Le-freakin'-git. She was really excited to start eating lunch at school this year (though by the looks of the lunch menu, she'll be getting home lunch more often than not *insert green sick face emoji). 

After experiencing kindergarten, I was bracing myself for the worst. Last year I had to walk her to her classroom every day for 3 months, and many days I had to pull her into the room while she dug her heels into the ground. 

Our family had a lot of changes this summer- a big move to a new neighborhood (which meant new friends and a new church), a new baby, and now a new school. Change is hard for her- new things and new people make her anxious. I think it's all worsened by her sensory processing struggles. The first week of drop-off was pretty rough. There was weeping and wailing and grabbing onto my clothes (while also trying to keep Olivia out of all the fun classroom things as I juggled Charlotte in the other hand). The stares given by the 20-some-odd other 6 year-olds were completely warranted. Fortunately, it didn't seem to phase her veteran teacher in the least. The second day she told me, "I'm okay if you leave her here like this if you are." So that's what we did. Bandaid approach.

After several days into the tears and dramatics, I thought of an idea that would maaaaybe ease things a little. We needed help. We needed a little magic. 

There are a few fairy houses in our neighborhood (hollowed out logs with little furniture inside). And if you write to a fairy, they write you back. One of these houses is in the front yard of one of Jillian's little friends. I texted her Mom about it and she was more than happy to oblige. Matter of fact, she said that their fairy, Tawanda Bell, would come camping at our house that very night. The next morning Jillian woke up to a tiny tent in our front yard, fashioned out of a cloth rice bag, complete with a sleeping bag, little campfire, and tiny dishes. Inside the tent was a note and a little Beanie Baby (Jillian is obsessed with those).  The note let her know that this was a special pet she could take with her to school to help her feel brave. And you better believe she's taken it every day since (her teacher was 100% on board). The fairy magic seems to be working. 
Hi, my name is Whitney.
And I believe in fairies.

There have still been some rough moments (like the day she had a substitute in the second week), but each week is getting better (and at a faster rate than it did in kindergarten- thank heavens). After being her Mom for 6 years now, I've learned that with her there is no rushing. She really has to feel things out and get comfortable in her own time on her terms, and it's my job to facilitate that. She feels big emotions that push me to my wit's end more often than not. I often find myself thinking, "why can't you just handle this like every other kid." But that's just it- she's not every other kid. Because of this though, once she conquers something, even if it's as small as walking into school, it's a big win for both of us and I'm so incredibly proud of her. It gives me the encouragement I need to gear up for the next inevitable tough thing. 

Oh, and now she's all about the fairies.
(Just ask her friends in the fairy club at school. Yep. There's a club.) 

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