20 August 2010


No, that's not a typo in the title. It's just my modified celebratory acronym acknowledging the goodness of the weekend to come, and it stands for Thank-Goodness-It's-Viernes, in tribute to my new, Spanish-speaking country.

Today was the end of my third week of school. I'm teaching a rock-awesome group of fourth graders, and it has been super fun so far! Even still, I love it when the weekend comes, bringing some extra time for exploring Costa Rica and chilling with friends.

Obviously, the weekend comes regardless of what we do, but do you ever have those times when you feel like you have totally earned it? My first weekend of the school year was like that. As usual, my students were amazing, but I still left school Friday feeling completely drained because of something that happened during recess.

Ignacio, or Iggy, is one of my fourth graders. Iggy has autism. People with autism generally have different sensory perceptions than people without autism do. This different sensory perception means that the ordinary sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches that you or I might not even notice can be downright painful for people with autism, and everyday environments can seem hostile. Understandably, then, Iggy hates fire drills, evacuation alarms, and any other very loud, ongoing sounds, and will often try to hide during these events.

While the fourth- and fifth-graders were playing after lunch on Friday of the first week of school, a ferocious hail storm whipped in, bringing torrents of rain and blasts of thunder and lightning along with it. Gotta love rainy season in the tropics! We all rushed inside to escape the golf ball-sized pellets. Our school's roof is made of tin, so the clamor inside the building, from the storm hammering on the roof, and from the kids' reactions to the storm, was excruciating.

Weaving among the kids careening around on scooters, I managed to corral my students to my classroom to run a quick headcount. "1...2...3...4...there's someone missing. Where's Iggy?" No one knew. I ran out to the hallway to look for him. No Iggy. I ran to the restroom, calling his name. No Iggy. I asked the other teachers to check their classrooms. No Iggy. To my knowledge, he had been missing almost 10 minutes by this time, and it was clear that he was not anywhere in the elementary building. We decided that he must have been overwhelmed by the sounds of the storm, and gone to hide somewhere.

After we scoured the library, the main building, and the gym, with no sign of Iggy, I began checking the play shelters on the playground and the plant stands along the athletic fields. Iggy was not to be found. At that point, it was going on 30 minutes from the time we had last seen Iggy, and all available adults were on the prowl. We began worrying that maybe he had left campus through the guard's gate, which happened to be unlocked at this precise time.

As I rushed crazily through the gym on a second sweep, I saw Iggy's little face peer around the doorway, and heard him call, "Hello, Teacher!" He waved to me, giving me a crooked little smile. I rushed over to give him a big hug, forgetting that I was a walking river. Oh, relief! He was safe! It turns out, he was at his piano lesson the whole time. Being a new teacher, I wasn't aware that he took piano lessons (I am now, I assure you!), and the music room was the one place we hadn't checked. Of course.

Word that Iggy was safe made it back to the elementary building before we did. When we arrived, the rest of the class stampeded to hug Iggy and present him with cards they had crafted while people were out searching for him. I must have still been ashen, because all the other teachers kept stroking my arm, trying to soothe me: "Tranquila, tranquila! [Calm down, calm down.] It's all right! He's ok! Everything's fine now!"

Meanwhile, I was just thinking, "Tranquila? No, no. What I need is TEQUILA, not tranquila!" However, considering they probably don't look favorably upon references to alcohol at an elementary school, I kept that thought to myself. While the students went to Drama class, I went to the girls' restroom to dry my dress under the hand dryer, and then flopped on the comfy chairs in the Book Nook until the students came back for the last block of the day.

Overall, the incident was definitely worthy of a "Hoo, Nellie!" or two. Ah well, you know what they say...all's well that ends well, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment