First Day Of School

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Little man started school today!

*weeps*

It was always going to be a challenging day for him, (and an emotional one for us). We did everything that the school suggested in order to familiarise him with his new environment. All we could do was keep our fingers crossed that it would help him on the day.

So this morning I woke up to the sound of T’other half’s alarm and little man standing there in his pants singing

” Morrrrrrning Mumma, I’m going to big schoo-ullllll todaaaay!”

We got up, had breakfast and got ready. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no meltdowns over wearing the uniform…stunned actually.

So far so good.

The moment that I saw him in his new uniform and shiny shoes my heart filled with love!

I’ve done this twice before but the moment when you see your child wearing their school uniform for the first time -gets you EVERY time. It grabs hold of your heart and twangs it!

We resisted the urge to drive the few hundred yards to the school in the car, we’re bone when it comes to walking, but we’re not that bone. I held his hand in mine and I felt apprehensive. Oh who am I trying to kid? I was bricking it…

How would he react?

How would I react?

Would T’other half have to drag me away from the school door in an undignified fashion? Would my hormones malfunction all over the reception floor in front of the yummy mummies and their nice hairdo’s? Would I end up being the talking point of their coffee morning?

“Aye worra bowt ‘er at schoo throwin a benny this mornin?”

“Ah know…what a flippin barmpot!”

I needn’t have stressed…

He actually tried to break free from my hand to race off into school.. it didn’t work though, I’ve inherited Ma’s vice like grip!

The school have been brilliant in meeting his needs. We dropped him off ten minutes earlier than the bell and they are working with him using the “First and Then” method, (First you tidy up, Then you can have a drink).

Mrs C greeted us at the door and little man’s eyes lit up. He rushed towards her shaking his book and PE bags, “LOOK AT MY BAGS!!”. He was like Billy Whizz on acid and was almost through the door when T’other half asked “where’s Mummy’s kiss?”..so he ran back, kissed my leg and shot off again.

That was it.

Months of worrying about this moment and it came and went without any drama at all.

We went home and I just sat there fretting. Will he be OK? How will he react when the school bell rings? How will he cope with playtime? All these questions, (and more), racing through my mind.

We picked him up at 11.45 and I was happy to see him appear at the door, but I could tell that he was in one of his moods. He didn’t want to be hugged. He was irritable and tearful. Despite this, Mrs C gave us a thumbs up and said he’d had a good morning.

We walked back home but he wasn’t a happy chap…

It was obvious to me that he was overwhelmed, so I helped to change him out of his uniform. He got upset when I gave him a t-shirt with a small mark on the back. Normally he will tolerate it, but today he got really upset. I held him close to me and let him cry. Then he had his jam sandwiches, (same as always), and we settled down to watch Monsters Inc., (again)

After a while he began to play with his cars and fire engine, using his magnetic numbers as interaction, in the same way that you’d use toy people normally. It fascinated me to watch him…he’d pick up the number 5 and say “Right you are 5!”. Obviously, the “Right you are” is from Fireman Sam, (his latest obsession), with the numbers from Numberjacks. S loves letters and numbers, (especially numbers). They have an almost calming effect on him…

It’s been an emotional day. I’ve done absolutely nothing in the house, yet I feel drained.

Little man is in bed now. His little brain trying to process all the information of the day. At some point he will wake up, cry and shout that he’s scared of the dark. I will stagger in, cuddle him for a while then he’ll kiss my nose and tell me that I can go back to my room.

Meanwhile my own brain struggles to process all the new information… my gaze is drawn to a butterfly fluttering around the garden and I think of my son and how he is like a butterfly. Butterflies are symbolic of transformation and this is a time of transformation for him. Despite my fears about how he will thrive in comparison to his peers… he will emerge in his own time and in his own way.

As much as I want him to stay my little boy forever, I know that I have to let him go, because if you hold on too tightly to the butterfly you damage it’s wings and therefore it’s progress. I want him to reach his full potential, so tomorrow I will go through it all again. I will go through the emotional turmoil and be ready and waiting with the cuddles and kisses. I’ll even watch Monsters Inc again if I have too…

“Just like the butterfly, I too will awaken in my own time.” ~ Deborah Chaskin

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The Next Chapter

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Little man ended the first chapter of his schooling journey today…

Technically he left nursery in July but due to his difficulties we felt that it would be beneficial for him to attend the nursery for one full day a week to remain familiar with the learning environment, that way it would ease the transition into school. It was also a bit of respite for me. It meant that I could wander into town, go and have a coffee without fear of S having a meltdown.

He raced into the nursery this morning clutching his gift for his special teacher, a box of chocolates for the rest of the staff and of course, a treat for the children, his friends. Despite us constantly telling him that it was a ‘thank you for being lovely’ gift, he still ran in shouting “It’s your birthday today, Teacher V!”

We wanted him to enjoy his last day, so we didn’t linger about and I’m proud of myself that I didn’t cry when I gave him a kiss goodbye.

I wrote about school yesterday and how I’m dreading next Tuesday but today there’s been a heaviness in my heart because this wonderful chapter in his life is coming to an end. Despite his difficulties in the early days.. he’s settled and thrived in a loving atmosphere. We chose the nursery over others, which were a lot more modern, simply because it felt right. The first time I saw the manager (Teacher L), she was comforting a child in her arms. She’d a lovely smile and twinkling eyes. I will never forget her kindness and support with S. It was obvious that she loved the children in her care. Sadly she announced her retirement just before the Easter holiday. I joked with her that S had finished her off but she looked at me, smiled and said, “I would fill this room full of children like S if I could, it’s been a pleasure to teach him”.

I said, “We are talking about the same child here?”

Little man seemed to cope fairly well with the new manager apart from one incident where Teacher L turned up for a impromptu visit and it did his head in. As in, he took it literally that he would never see Teacher L again so when she walked in he picked up a chair and threw it at her. It’s things like this that drive it home to me that my child is different…

When we went to pick him up, Teacher V had already left, which I was a little sad about because I wanted to thank her for all her help and support with S over the last year.

He was irritable and he wanted me to hold him. For some reason his trousers were on the wrong way round. I’m pretty sure they were on the right way when he arrived there but he sometimes strips off when he goes to the loo. No idea why.

I suppose I’d better get used to seeing his clothes on back to front because children are encouraged to dress themselves at school and I remember C & K coming home with jumpers on back to front, inside out and not always their own.

S didn’t want to give hugs or kisses to anybody and he wouldn’t make eye contact. He was tired and exceedingly grumpy. He did not want to give the nursery manager, (Teacher T), a hug or a kiss despite her requests. That’s how S is so we didn’t see the point in distressing him further, so we said goodbye and walked through the door for the last time.

I didn’t cry…

As we walked down the street we passed a group of young lads on bikes. We were just about to turn the corner when one of them shouted.

” SCUSE ME MISSUS…DO YOU KNOW THAT YOUR KID’S GOT HIS TROUSERS ON THE WRONG WAY ROUND?”

I smiled, nodded and muttered, “So does everybody else now thanks to you and yer big gob!”

Teacher T gave us S’s ‘Learning Journey’, two books recording his progress at nursery from when he started in September 2012 until last Friday. We went through them when we got home. Both have his photograph on the front but in the first one when he started nursery, his expression was guarded, as were most of them throughout that first book. In the second book he is smiling on the front and all the way through. He is happy. He’s thrived in a loving atmosphere. We made the right choice…the photographs prove that.

That’s the moment that I cried.

But it’s OK…little man was elsewhere hammering the crap out of some Play Dough, so he didn’t see me blarting.

I don’t know what the future holds for little man but I will never forget the teachers who gave him this wonderful start in life.

So as one chapter ends…another begins.

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book.  ~Author Unknown

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The A Word ~ The Visit

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A small school uniform hangs in the kitchen. We placed it there a few days ago so that little man can get used to seeing it.

Next Tuesday he will be wearing it for the first time when he starts school. To him wearing the uniform will mean that he is going to school, so we chose not to confuse him by asking him to wear it beforehand. At this point I have absolutely no idea if S will willingly wear the uniform or if I will have a fight on my hands to get him dressed. I’m going to get up extra early… just in case.

We talk to him about school every day. We show him the photographs of the classrooms and teachers that the school kindly sent for him to look at during the holidays. They are aware of little man’s problems and they are prepared for him. No doubt they are prepared for a child with learning difficulties but whether or not they are ready for S himself is a another kettle of fish altogether!

Mrs C, (the SENCO), who will be working closely with S came to see us today. We were supposed to meet her on the second school visit but we had to cancel because S had got Chicken Pox. It was arranged that she would come and see us, so true to her word, she turned up this morning and spent over an hour with us.

Mrs C didn’t sit on the sofa or the chair, she got down to little man’s level ,(on the floor). My son either takes to someone or he doesn’t and I’m chuffed to be able to say that he took an instant liking to her. Within minutes he was sat on her lap having a cuddle, what more could I ask for?

As well as talking to S she talked to me, asking all about his needs, his ‘triggers’, routines etc. She has autistic children herself, so she knows how I feel. I admit that I had to walk out at one point because I was crying. That’s how it gets me when another human being says “I know how difficult it is for you at times…I’ve been there”. So often I am judged by people who see my son as a naughty child and me as an incompetent mother. You develop a hard skin, you have to, but you’re not hard inside. This lady took time out of her day, (and time away from her family), to come and see us, to put our minds at ease. She’s done the courses required to look after my child but more than that, she can empathise because she’s experienced it with her own children.

At the end of the visit she was holding my son in her arms like a baby…he likes that and he likes her and that makes me happy.

I won’t lie to you…despite everything I’m still dreading Tuesday. My heart sinks a little bit further every time I look at the uniform. I can’t bring myself to write his name in everything because it hurts to think of him not being here.

For the last four years he’s been my little mate. My life has revolved around him, his meltdowns and his overwhelming love. He must squeeze me a hundred times a day with twice as many kisses. He’s a character. He loves to make me laugh. If he does something once and it makes me laugh he will do it time and time again. He is a wonderful human being.

As a mother, it’s my duty to let him go. We don’t have children so that we can hold them back. We help them to become the best that they can be and that’s what I will be thinking about on Tuesday morning when I’m walking away from the school gate. You’d think having two other sons that I would be used to this by now…but the truth is that it’s hurt every time. I’ve cried every time and this time will be no different. And as with the other times…I will hold back the tears until he’s out of sight.

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