Open Letter to the 4K Class at Williams Bay Elementary…

Dear Munchkins –

Hi guys! Welcome to 4K!!! You are so adorable in your Spiderman backpacks and sparkly Elsa dresses! I just know that you are going to have an amazing year exploring your beautiful new school and expanding your brains. This year marks the first year of 13 that you and many of your classmates will spend together at Williams Bay school. Many of you will make friendships that will last a lifetime while you are at this school! I should know, my very best friends are people I met in grade school! Growing up in a small town is an amazing thing. You get to know people. Like, really know them. You will come to know more about the people in your classroom than you know about some of your distant relatives. This is both a blessing and a curse.
You are too little to understand this right now, but you have so much power! Yes, you! You have the power to create a space in your 4K room that is filled with love and respect and acceptance. You have the power to embrace things that you do not understand. The power to see all of the wonderful things that make people unique and special. You have the power to expand not only your brains, but also your hearts. And then you have the power to go home and share your infinite wisdom with your family and your friends. Because even though you are only 4 years old, you have the power to love unconditionally. This is something that gets harder as you grow up. We need brave kiddos like you to learn about unconditional love and to hold on to it. We need you to teach those in the world who have forgotten what it means to love without condition. To tolerate without reason. To believe without hesitation.
Do you see that little boy over there shaking with excitement? The one who did not answer you when you asked him his name? That is my son Grayson. Grayson is the most wonderful little boy. He is filled with passion and love and energy. He loves space and throwing rocks and eating suckers. He may not look at you when you talk to him, but he hears you. He may not answer you when you question him, but he is screaming the answer on the inside. He may not join in your group play, but oh boy does he want to. You see, my son Grayson is a little different from you and me. Not bad. Not better. Or worse. Not weird or naughty. Not shy or reserved. Just different. Grayson has autism spectrum disorder. I know, lots of big words!! Let’s call it “ASD”. And sometimes Grayson will act different from you. Sometimes you may not understand why. And that’s ok! Grayson is just being Grayson! Silly, wonderful, loving Grayson. Can I ask you a favor? Ask him his name again. This time a little slower. Look at Grayson’s eyes, and wait for him to look in yours. Invite him to come and play with you. Understand that sometimes he will say “no”. Remember that he is not mad at you. Know that he still wants to be your friend. He probably just needs a break.
Sometimes Grayson gets wiggly. Do you know what it feels like to get wiggly? Have you ever had to sit still in the car for a very long time? And right at the end you begin to lose patience and you get really excited to get out of the car? Well, that’s how Grayson feels a lot of the time. He is wiggly and just needs a break. And sometimes when he is wiggly he does things he does not mean to do. He may knock over your toy or push you away. Grayson is so sorry when he does those things. Sometimes his wiggly body just has little bursts that cause him to be wiggly with his hands. Can I ask another favor? (I know, I’m sure going to owe you for all of these favors!) If Grayson gets wiggly and does something you do not like, take a big deep breath, softly tell him you are done playing. and walk away. When Grayson is done being wiggly, he will come find you to say that he is sorry. I know! It is really hard to walk about when someone makes you mad. But Grayson is different, and sometimes we can help people who are different by understanding and giving them space. I never want you to get hurt! So if you do not feel safe, please tell your teacher in a soft and calm voice. The teacher will make sure you are safe,  and she will help Grayson with his wiggles! Sometimes when kids try to help Grayson on their own, it makes him more wiggly.
Being a kiddo is no easy task! Adults ask you to be brave and smart and courageous all of the time. Sometimes they ask you to do things that they cannot do themselves. You are asked to share your toys and use your manners. You say “please” and “thank you”. And each day you get a little bit older. You become a little more of the grown-up you will one day be. And sometimes as kids get older they forget how easy it is to treat people, even people who are different, with love and respect and acceptance.
I know I have asked a lot of you today! And I promise to bring in some really yummy treats  to say thank you for all of these favors! But for now I will give you the only gift I can give; my deepest thanks for accepting my son Grayson. It will be very hard for me to send him to school with you each day. I will worry about him every minute I am not with him. I will fret over the things I cannot control. I will overthink the things I can control. I will fear that my message did not reach you. I will pray that it did. I will give you the gift of my thanks. And I will give you the gift of my son. I know in my heart that this year Grayson will teach you, just like he has taught me over the past 4 years. He will teach you about patience. He will teach you about persistence and endurance. He will teach you about being different. About accepting difference. And despite his difference, he will teach you how to love him. How to be his friend. How to embrace all of the wonderfully different things about him. And about you.
Kids, you have so much power! In all of your four year old glory you can help me with one more simple task…you can help me change the world! Let’s make this world a safer, better, more tolerant place for kiddos like my Grayson. Let’s do it together!
Grayson’s mommy

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16 thoughts on “Open Letter to the 4K Class at Williams Bay Elementary…

  1. Dorothy Gerber says:

    this is just beautiful, what a lucky boy to have a wonderful Mommy like you. My grandson will be at the Bay in the 4k mornings….I hope he gets to meet Grayson and now that I know your story,
    I will be sure to expand on this when we spend time together as to how important it is to make sure my grandson and his schoolmates feel included and mutually respected in every loving way possible. Go Grayson and may 4k be an
    awesome experience for you and your whole family in the most positive way…
    Dorothy Gerber……….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Scarlett Cook says:

    Beautiful just beautiful! Our son is autistic too and is now 10. He was diagnosed at age 4 and I remember the feeling of worry and concern about his first day at school. I have been amazed how kids have accepted him and watch out for him at both schools he has been in (Sharon and St Andrews). I’m sure Grayson will have a great year! Thank you for writing this blog and keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Christina Tyshenko says:

    This is so heartfelt and beautiful! There is always so much emotion when sending your child into any new situation. My daughter, Abby, will be in 4k at the Bay this year in the morning. I took some of the same pictures and held back the tears as she embarks on this wonderful journey. I hope that they get to meet and play together, and become friends!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Carrie says:

    I just loved reading your letter, I feel deep down that this is exactly the true feelings of a mother with a child with autism. I also have an autistic son going into 4K this year. I have had a TON of anxiety, sleepless nights over thinking about how my son is going to be treated. However, as you said we will continue to fret over things we can’t control. Thats what we do as a mom right?! I enjoyed your letter so much. Thank you for sharing. I hope Grayson has an amazing year in school 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jess Smith says:

    What a wonderful reminder to all of us parents to talk with our kids before school starts again about being kind and accepting of others! My son Liam will be in Mrs Breen’s morning class this year too. Liam also went to Montessori last year so perhaps Liam and Grayson will already know each other. I hope that they can become friends this year and I know that they will all have a wonderful year this year!

    Liked by 1 person

    • piecesofloveblog says:

      Jess, thank you so much for your message! I am so happy to hear that Liam is in Gray’s class! We were so hoping that some of our Montessori buddies would be in his class! I think they are going to have an amazing class! Grayson’s countdown it on! Ever since the orientation Tuesday he asks us every morning if he can go to school!!! Looking forward to an AMAZING year!

      Like

  6. Neal says:

    My daughter had an ASD child in her class at Woods School for 4 or 5 years and it was an incredible blessing to the whole group. The kids grew to be a very generous and compassionate family, which has carried through as they all left that school and went on to high school. Best of luck Grayson, I hope your classmates realize what a treasure they have in you and that your experiences there are perfect!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kimberly Talarek says:

    My son just finished his school career with the bay this year. When he started kindergarten in Breene class there was a boy named Bailey who was autistic starting also. His mother who is my best friend since those mornings did a wonderful job explaining to all the kids what autism was and how special Bailey was. It was beautiful to see the amazing friendships these kids developed with Bailey. They became very protective of him when other kids outside the class tried to pick on him. Bailey and his his moved out of state when the kids started 5th grade and I’m so happy to tell you that they still have a strong bond and those friendships still exist. I know that Mrs Sawyer would be very happy to talk to anyone about her experience. I am so proud to say that Bailey started his first week of college this week. Them being open and honest about the challenges Bailey faced right from the beginning allowed those children not to see him as anyone different,

    Like

  8. Amber Cook says:

    Your letter is just beautiful! I read it aloud to my children last night before bed . My twins start 4K this year and my Miles (in Hertels AM) and Delilah ( in Breens Am) are excited to meet their new friend Grayson! There are going to be some really great kids and families together . We all look forward to knowing each other.

    Like

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