When Steven was in first grade I was sitting in his IEP (Individual Education Plan) with his teacher, counselor, principal and Special Ed teachers. His main teacher was trying to explain some of Steven’s behaviors in class. She said “I wish you could see how he is in class. You would be welcome to come spend a day in class with us, but when parents are around, kids tend to act differently”. I sat there for a second and then said, “you know I probably could spend the day in class without Steven knowing it, if the other kids would play along?”. It was funny watching light bulbs going off in everyone’s heads in the room. We all loved the ideal and set a date to do it.
That morning they sent Steven to drop something off in the office, then I went into his classroom. The teacher introduced me, explaining that I was Steven’s mom and that it was a secret to Steven that I was there. We asked that no one tell him and that we would surprise Steven at the end of the day. The kids were very excited by it. Steven came back into the room and some of the kids giggled, Steven just smiled. All the kids in class were great. A couple times Steven would walk right by me and I would just be completely still, some of the kids would gasp out loud and then breathe a sigh of relief when Steven would just walk on by.
They had their desk set up in blocks of 4, Steven’s group was 2 boys and 2 girls. I love the girls, so many of them are like little moms. Steven dropped his eraser on the floor and one of the little girls quickly got out of her seat to pick it up for Steven. She put it in his hand so he knew where it was. Then she came over to me and whispered, “he doesn’t see very well, so when he drops stuff it’s just easier for one of us to pick it up, then watching him feel all over for it”. I thanked her for doing that. Several of the kids looked out for Steven but especially a couple of the girls really took care of him, it was so sweet.
Steven knew I was suppose to meet him for lunch that day, so right before lunch I left the room and waited for him by the cafeteria. The kids got a kick out of that too, me greeting Steven, like I hadn’t seen him all day. I had to really watch the lunch conversation, a couple of the kids slipped but we were able to cover it up. After lunch I told Steven bye, gave him a hug and kiss and then went to the end of his classroom line and waited with them to go back into class. One little girl said “can we tell him yet?”… I said “no, not until the end of the school day”. She looked exasperated, she said “I am only six years old, how am I suppose to keep a secret ALL day?!” I just laughed and told her I had total confidence that she could do it.
Towards the end of the day they had story time and all the kids sat on the floor and the teacher read a story and ask the students questions. The story said something about a lion. She asked if anyone had ever seen a lion and about half the class raised their hands. She asked a couple of them where they had saw one, the kids said the zoo. Steven raised his hand again and she said “Steven did you see one at the zoo too?” He said “no, I didn’t but my dad did, he works at the zoo”. The teacher said, “your dad works at the zoo?” At the same time her and several of the kids looked at me. I gave a funny smirk and shook my head no. Several of the kids started giggling. Steven perked up at that, he thought he was being entertaining. The teacher said “I thought your dad was a police officer?” (which at the time his dad was a part time reserve officer) Steven said, “yeah he works as a police officer at night, but he works at the zoo during the day”. Again the teacher and several students looked at me and again I shook my head no, trying not to giggle out loud myself. The teacher just went a long with it and Steven seemed so proud of himself.
Class was almost over, all the kids were gathering their things and waiting to be dismissed to their buses. The teacher asked Steven if he would stay in the class. Steven had a look on his face like he was in trouble. She called Steven up to her desk and about that time I said “hey buddy”. Steven looked very confused. I went over and gave him a hug and started telling him how I had been there in class with him all day. He was grinning but looked a little concerned too. His teacher and I started telling him about how we pulled it off with all his friends and lunch and so on. Then I said “oh yeah, Steven, since when does your dad work at the zoo?”… the look on his face was priceless. His teacher and I started laughing, so Steven knew it was all good. That was such a rememberable day. I told so many of my friends, that was such a neat experience that most parents would never be able to do with their kids. Some of our friends said “poor Steven he is going to be wondering everyday if you are there watching him”. I couldn’t really see the down side in that!