Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Back to School.....

When I was growing up programmes like The Waltons projected an image of what family life should be like. Families may have had their arguments but they were close knit and stuck together. Children were respectful and imaginative. Mother stayed home and held the family together.

Much has changed in our modern families but I think many people still strive to maintain those ideals against ever mounting pressure. I had a sneaky suspicion I wasn't going to be Ma Walton as a parent but I looked forward to being a parent and imagined the fun I would have with my children and how straightforward our relationships would be. My reality of parenthood is that I often feel that I am the opposite of the parent I wanted to be. 

This time of year Facebook is awash with pictures of children in new school uniforms taken by proud parents (myself included) and the posts of how sad friends are that the long school holidays are over and how much they will miss their children now that school has restarted.  Apart from posting my obligatory new school year photo I generally give Facebook a bit of a wide berth this time of year if I'm honest. I can't bear the feeling that I don't feel quite the same and I end up feeling angry with myself for feeling that way. 

Don't get me wrong, I did get quite emotional about the start of the school year. I was emotional about the anxiety Katie had about starting her new school.  I shed many tears just seeing her in her new uniform.  I am worried that the transition will be too much for her and she won't be able to settle in the classroom. I worry that hyper stimulation will effect her concentration too much and she will feel unhappy at school and fall behind with her work. I am worried that curriculum topics will cause upset and I am concerned that Katie's emotional immaturity will continue to impact on her friendships.

I wasn't crying because she was going back to school though because I need a break from the endlessly challenging behaviour that we experience at home. I need some time apart from my daughter who generally acts like a 3 year old yet conversely has just started her new level at swimming and who coped amazingly well when I let her go into the pool and find her new class on her own. The pride I felt for her as she sorted it all out was immense and in direct constrast to the intense frustration I have felt over the past two days as her behaviour has been highly challenging due to emotions about school plus bravely starting Brownies. It highlights perfectly the ying and yang of emotions that I am currently feeling about Katie.  She really is the little girl with the curl and I feel like the parental equivalent of the same person.  The fluctuations in us both are no doubt equally a challenge for us both.

I had a very productive (and long) meeting with the Head of Katie's new school this week and outlined to her all the issues we were experiencing at home; the strategies in place at her old school and my hopes for her new school.  It was a positive meeting.  The Head is on-board and full of ideas and suggestions and above all was supportive of our experiences.  She didn't put me down or say "all parents experience that or all children do that",  She highlighted shared experiences with her own 6 year old but noted that this behaviour was in a child without all the additional experiences and challenges Katie has.  She has given us our own budget for Pupil Premium Plus and we will discuss how best to spend the money through the year.  She will be organising one-to-one maths again for Katie and also ELSA support to help with friendship issues.  It's a great start.  She was also willing to be a back-up for me to use with Katie when she is being challenging in the morning. So far so promising.  The GP has now referred Katie to the paediatrician I asked him to refer to and that paediatrician is aware the referral is coming so I'm hoping we can move forward with assessing her for FASD or whatever is going on for her as well.

I am currently reading a book about FASD which I will review here once I've finished it and it's highly enlightening and scary that Katie ticks so many of the boxes.  My only query is that neither of my children are small or had any issues regarding their early thriving but other than that she exhibits all the symptoms.  I will be interested to discuss this further once our appointment comes through but I would be keen to hear from any parents of children with FASD where failure to thrive wasn't a concern.

Pip has also started Pre-School.  I took him for his introductory session last week and stayed the whole session with him but dropped him off for his first solo mission today.  He was very anxious and my heart strings were twanging horribly.  This morning he kept saying to me "Mummy stay, stay, stay?" My response of "Have you been loving me for quite some time, time, time?" went over Pip's head (which considering how much he adores Taylor Swift was surprising) but TCM found it amusing.  He then asked me to stay "long, long, long".  I went over and over with him that I would stay for a little while but then I would say goodbye and see him after lunch when he was sitting on the bench and singing the goodbye song.  The reality of dropping him off was that he ran off to play with his friend who is a mutual friend from Katie's school and they were happy as Larry in the sand pit when I left after sorting out paperwork.  He offered up his lips for a kiss and asked me to kiss his friend as well.  I left feeling happier about his transition.  I phoned to check up on him and he was very happily playing outside.

So the ducks are slowly forming an orderly queue just in time for the Court of Protection Orders to arrive for my Mother-in-Law and I can start wading through the paperwork and working out what on earth I'm supposed to be doing (obviously whilst sorting out the never-ending house build as well).

One thing's for sure, life isn't dull.  Incredibly and overwhelmingly stressful but never dull.

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