Moving on

We have come to the end of the last full week of term for the 2020/21 academic year. It’s felt like a big week for each of the kids.

Katie has been invited to a friend’s sleepover and is there now. She came out of school absolutely beaming the other day because she had been invited over with 3 other girls from her class, and desperately wanted to be able to go. She was so excited! Having been told yes she could go her anxiety kicked in and she wanted to know every tiny detail of what was going to happen – what would they be doing, would she be able to sleep with the lights on but not have the others know it was her that wanted them on, what would they eat, what would the sleeping arrangements be, what if she wanted to talk to me etc.

I asked Katie if it was OK for me to phone her friend’s mum so I could let her know how much she was looking forward to it but also give her the heads up on some of her worries and get some answers to some of them. I’m all for speaking up about Katie’s diagnosis if it helps people to understand her and makes situations less stressful for her, but I’m also mindful of the fact it’s Katie’s diagnosis not mine, and for now she is really reluctant to tell people about it. But on this occasion she said yes it was fine but only if I phoned the mum and we didn’t text. She didn’t want a conversation left on a phone that someone could read.

The friend’s mum was lovely. She listened and asked questions, and it was definitely reassuring for Katie to know that her worries were being taken seriously. Her friend’s mum is using a sleepover company who come and set up indoor teepees so she sent a photo of what they look like so Katie could see in advance. She promised lights on was no problem and also said she would be sleeping downstairs in a room next to the girls so she could be there if anyone needed anything. Katie was worried about the tents all being in a line and that she wouldn’t be able to see the others, so her friend’s mum said she would make sure they were set up in a 3 and a 2 opposite each other. She also said Katie didn’t have to talk to her in front of the others if she was worrying, she could just tap her on the leg or they could have their own signal so that she could talk to her in private if she wanted to. She has been sending me photos through the evening so far, including one of the other girls having a dance competition while she and Katie are the judges. I know Katie will have felt much too self conscious to dance so giving her a different role but keeping her involved is really helpful.

I’ve also done what I can at home to make the sleepover a bit easier for Katie.

  • We packed her bag together and she re-packed and moved things around a couple of times until she had everything exactly where she wanted it
  • She doesn’t like wearing pajamas and just sleeps in knickers at home. She gets very hot. We found the smallest, thinnest pair of shorts and vest top that we could and she tried them on and laid down in them to check that the label was ok, they weren’t scratchy, and she wasn’t too hot or uncomfortable
  • She has her fiddle toys with her
  • She wanted to take a couple of teddies but worried the others wouldn’t need teddies. I told her I bet they will, so she may be happy to take them out when she gets there, but if not she has packed them in her bag anyway so she knows they’re there with her
  • She always ties her hair up when she goes to bed and is particular about how tight it should be and where the ponytail should sit on her head, so I tied it up for her before she left
  • She knows I’m keeping my phone on and I will answer any time if she needs to call / will come and pick her up if she needs me to
  • We have no plans for tomorrow. She can come home and flake

I would describe myself as a bit of a worrier but nowhere near on Katie’s scale. When I was younger I just looked forward to sleepovers and would head off without a second thought. I hope she is having a good time and can keep hold of the excitement she felt initially.

This is also the end of her last full week at her current school before she moves on to her new school. The Inclusion Lead at her current school, who I’ve had so many issues with and found to be so obstructive about everything, is now on maternity leave. Since she’s been gone and I’ve been dealing with a different member of the SEN team Katie has actually had regular ELSA sessions or been told in advance if they’ve needed to be rescheduled. She has had the same member of staff each time (albeit it’s only been for the last 4 or 5 weeks of term) and today she came home with a note:

“Dear Katie, I have really enjoyed working with you this term. Thank you for being you. I will miss you at Falkland but know you will have a fabulous time in your new school. I am giving you a special stone to help you with the move to your new school. Keep it in your pocket on your first day and give it a rub whenever you feel you need to. It would be lovely to hear from you and how you are getting on in your new school. With love, Miss C x”

It makes such a difference to have people like Miss C and her friend’s mum who are positive and who listen to what Katie needs. It makes me wonder if we’d been dealing with Miss C from the start would we not have ended up finding Katie a new school.

There’s not too much to say about Alice at the moment. She has the least amount of change coming up out of the three of them, but this is her final year as an infant and when she goes back to school in September she will be in the juniors (year 3). She’s growing up! She’s had a lovely end of year report from her teachers and for the most part is really happy at school, but one of her best friends is moving away in a couple of weeks and she will definitely miss her a lot and find it strange going back to school without her. It’s also in the back of my mind that year 3 is when Katie really started to struggle and I hope we don’t see the same for Alice – but they are very different children and there is no reason to think that Alice would struggle just because Katie did.

Matthew has two more days left at preschool and then he leaves because he will be starting school in September. I love love love his preschool. All three of our children have gone there, and all three of them have been really happy there. When I first went back to work we used to send Matthew to a childminder a couple of days a week. He either cried when I dropped him off or just put up with being there. When we visited his preschool he loved it straight away and from the first day he walked straight in and never looked back. I’ve never had to send him in crying or felt guilty for leaving him there. The girls were the same, and they all looked forward to their preschool days. It’s what you want for your children – they have felt safe and encouraged while they’re there and they have been able to learn through play. I’m talking about school in a positive way to Matthew but actually I’m really quite sad that he’s coming to the end of his preschool days. It’s like this lovely little cocoon where everything is so exciting and they can be themselves and they’re encouraged with everything they do. The plus side for school is that we know Matthew’s teacher as she taught Katie as well. She’s really nice and she waves at Matthew every day when we’re at school picking the girls up, which he loves.

This definitely feels like a summer of transition. The small people are all growing up, moving on and becoming slightly less small!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: