Small starts school in September.
It amazes me that he’s grown that much that here we are… on the brink of what I sometimes think is just ridiculous. He’ll be one of the babies of his year as he’s July born and, well, when Big started school she was ready – more than ready – to go. She’d outgrown nursery and all that it offered and wanted and needed to learn more, in a different setting.
If I could, I’d keep Small at nursery forever, with his wonderful, thoughtful carers.
I suspect this would be doing him a disservice.
Whilst Small cannot talk, he cannot walk, he cannot eat without assistance, the Small-ness of Small is coming through and there is much that he will benefit from at school. We had asked for a dual placement so that he can get all the benefits of an SN school with the socialisation of the mainstream school that is, quite literally, across the car park. It is also the school that Big attends and so for one year I get to fulfil my not very big dream – and yet one that every parents just assumes will happen – of my children being at the same school. Just as it should be, If only for some of the time.
His SN school has suggested a clever plan. That they create his very own, very individual timetable, that they place the very important things into the week – his two sessions of hydro, his one session of swimming, his physio, horse riding (horse riding!) and then ask the mainstream school to perhaps tailor their week so that the fun things we’d like Small to be included in – music, art, singing, hanging out with the other kids – could perhaps fall into the other parts of his week. I love them for thinking like that, and I think it would work. Small is never going to be academic, no university education for him, but he will enjoy and benefit from these activities and I’m so glad that these people, who barely know him, are thinking so intuitively about his needs.
… there is a part of me that has broken today. When Big started school we scoured ofsted reports, wanted to know about after school activities… we were excited for her. This Big Step. But today for Small we talked a lot about toileting, feeding, manual handling, hoists… So, quite reasonably – for his own safety and that of the staff – for a little moment he became a project, a logistic that needed solving which led my husband and I to wonder if it was time to move from SN buggy to wheelchair. This step that I am not ready for. I am not ready to sing ‘Disabled!’ as I take him to school. For all that he definitely is. For he is still my little boy. Who just needs pushing for longer than you’d expect.
And I still have to square that circle. That nothing we do with him can be spontaneous. It must be planned. Rigorously. So much more so than if he were ‘neuro typical’. And I have to remember to give myself a break after these meetings, these planning sessions, just to re-group, to re-orientate my brain almost because these are tiring and these are emotional conversations…
So school planning –‘Transition’– starts early. So by September, when he starts, the manual handling training will be done, the hoists will be in place, the evacuation plan will be written… all the stuff that is about my little boy, but is not my little boy, will be done… so we can concentrate on him enjoying school, benefiting from all those wonderful activities. And so I get to take that happy first day of school picture.
Just like every other parent.