Archive | December, 2013

Gratitude

23 Dec

We have so much to be grateful for. It struck me tonight as we were all sitting down to a takeaway meal of our choice that for many people, even those with so-called decent jobs, takeaways really aren’t an option. Then it started me thinking about all the other things I take for granted and just how lucky I am.

Food – by most peoples standards I guess our family has unlimited food. As dd1 has noted since she’s gone to university, “I won’t ever say there’s nothing to eat again. Just because I might not fancy what’s in the cupboards doesn’t mean I should moan about being hungry when there are so many options.” And she’s right. Since following the frankly rather wonderful Jack Monroe, both on Twitter and her blog (A Girl Called Jack) I have forced myself to think more creatively about ingredients and not to waste anything. I can’t slash our budget as much as I’d like due to small boy’s serious food intolerances, but that just leads me onto another point:

Health. Or more specifically the health services we enjoy. There’s always a story of a disaster and a hospital making a mistake, but then again news is push-button instant these days. I’m sure there were just as many errors fifty years ago but we never got to hear of them. Two of my children have been diagnosed with autism, and although there have been some serious hiccups in the process at times, my family do have that assurance of some support with the challenges my kids face. And let’s not forget the routine GP appointments for the everyday ailments like migraines, tonsillitis, excema etc; a few minutes waiting in a heated room to see a professional who then gives you a piece of paper that entitles you to the correct medication to make you well again. That is pretty amazing when you look at it like that. And being a mother of five children there have been weeks when I’ve seen more of our local GP than I have of my husband!

Family – there’s another one. I might moan about them, in fact I’m sure I do, but I treasure my family, they’re what makes me “me”. Being a mum was always the one thing I wanted above all else when I hit my teens so finding the Right Man (and keeping him -so far!) and having his children has been what I felt I was made for. We don’t have a very close extended family outside of grandparents and siblings but you know something? That’s OK. Other people who aren’t related have come into our family and they mean so much to us that I struggle to think of them as “just” friends. Maybe the saying that Friends are the family you would chose for yourself is never truer with us.

Where I live. I reside in what I generally consider to be the most beautiful part of the universe – the Highlands of Scotland. Nuff said!

Twitter. Not exclusively twitter as I have met some lovely people on-line through other sites, but on Twitter I have found so many parents like myself, just getting from A to B on a daily basis and trying not to lose the plot on the way. I’m not going to start naming names as it would take me far too long for one post, but I think you probably know who you are as you’ll either be reading this, or commenting, or maybe even RT’ing it. I can share their joys, and also their sorrows, and they share mine, and each time we connect I feel a wee bit closer to them and a lot less on my own, as sometimes I can be. I can truthfully say I love my tweeps! 

Anyway, I could go on all night, I’ve barely started. So I’ll just say I am personally very grateful for Christmas, this year especially, as with one child at boarding school and another now at university, this is a precious family time.

I hope you can all find something to be grateful for too. 

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Silent Sunday

22 Dec

Silent Sunday

Rant!

19 Dec

What is the point of my going into school expressly to discuss an upcoming event that M is going to really struggle with, think it’s all been sorted and then find out that my views and wishes were ignored and they were planning to take her anyway? Yes, really, this is what happened.

I’ll explain. The usually very good primary school have f***ed up. Bad enough that M is hanging onto coping with all the end of term changes and “excitement” by the skin of her teeth, but the proposal was that today all the school would be transported into the local town to do some carol singing at a supermarket. M had told me, in a quiet moment, that she really was not going to go, and when I questioned her further, she couldn’t give me any reasons, but repeated again and again that she wasn’t going. So, I went into school and spoke about my concerns. They know that she is only just dealing with the ludicrous amount of changes to her daily routine AND that she doesn’t do well in crowds, but for some reason the teacher was keen that she came along. She suggested that she could “go for a walk” if she didn’t want to join in. I stated quite clearly that as I was one of the drivers (all legal up here, we have a volunteer force of parents for the local trips and guess who gets asked first due to car size?) it would be a futile exercise to take her, as she would run away from her 1 to 1 and insist on being with me the whole time, making a mockery of her learning to rely on the staff during school hours. 

I left thinking this was all resolved and she would not be going. Until I saw her timetable for today which clearly stated “carol singing”. Of course, this prompted massive upset and in a slightly rash moment I actually promised her that she would not be going regardless of what the timetable said. Into school I went. 

It turns out that no-one thought to mention to me the very important fact that the 1 to 1 is not allowed by law to stay with M without a teacher around. Now, whether I agree with this or not is moot as it is law, and I respect that, but they had “thought around” the problem by deciding she’d be going anyway. I got a bit shirty then. I was very polite but I stated that I was not prepared to put M through the trauma of the crowds and then being kept away from me, and neither was I prepared for her or the rest of us to be caught up in any post-school meltdowns. There was a short stand-off. Fair play to the teacher, she came up with a workable solution. Due to class contact hours (some other rules) she wasn’t going with the children this morning and would in fact be through in the nursery. M could stay with her there. So, in the end, the 1 to 1 went through to help with transport and numbers and M stayed back in the (relative) quiet of the nursery.

I stayed for the carol singing. The children from two schools were crammed into the draughty foyer of the supermarket and there was barely room for the customers to get in and out of the store. The children were all bunched up tightly together. I actually felt uncomfortable watching them and I know it was the right decision for me to push for M not to go. She could easily have bolted straight out of the store and into the car park. The weather was sleety and visibility wasn’t the best. I can only conclude that no risk assessment was done for this outing.

There is another “outing” tomorrow. The children from M’s school will be taken to the sister school for the end of term assembly. Again, there is no provision for M to stay behind (although I had originally been told she was going to be able to stay and help with last minute tidying etc – which she would have liked). Instead, they are going to take all her things with her, and “if she can’t cope she can go to the library”. Having spoken to M this afternoon she doesn’t want to try the assembly – too many people she doesn’t know – so I will be writing in her contact book that both M and both her parents request that she is taken straight to the library for the duration of the assembly. 

And I shall be having words at the next review meeting. Regarding Christmas preparations, “school must do better.”

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Silent Sunday

15 Dec

Silent Sunday

TGIF

13 Dec

What a week.

Apart from my dubious mental health and pretty rubbish coping skills this week, poor M is feeling the strain of the approach of Christmas at school and it is spilling over into everything at home. As much as school are keeping her to a strict visual timetable there are just too many changes to the norm for her to be able to be anything but very unsettled.

I dropped the packed lunches off on the way to the shops this morning and saw M through the window of the gym hall – she was curled up on a bench at the side – and I noted that they were doing “social dancing” (Scottish country dancing). She had a wonderful time last week so I was surprised to see her so obviously miserable. I was let into school and was having a quick word with the head teacher when M hurtled out of the hall and into my arms like a missile on a mission. She was really upset and needed considerable cuddles before she would allow me to detach her (boy she does weigh a lot when clutching my neck in a stranglehold).

She was definitely still very uptight on the way home from school, and even the purchase of a Friday treat of Maltesers didn’t help much. She couldn’t settle at anything, and needed lots of encouragement to eat her pizza at teatime.

Finally I managed to get her into her pyjamas and then suddenly the dam burst and so many words came tumbling out of her, all so negative and heart-rending that i wanted to run away so I didn’t have to listen. I think when she is so confused and despairing it comes out as self-hatred and wanting to “not be here any more” as well as thinking everyone hates her. She kept repeating that she needed me to be in school with her all the time “otherwise I think you won’t come back for me mumma”. What the hell can I possibly say to that? I have never ever given her cause to think I won’t be there for her; if I have been out in town and concerned I might be even 2 minutes late for the school run I pull over and call the secretary so she can tell M I am on my way. I KNOW that my little girl’s life is ruled by her anxiety, and I do everything I can to prevent it worsening, and then she says this.

It breaks my heart. Am I doing the right thing in making her attend school? She does like social interaction, and can cope well most of the time now she has 1 to 1 support, but maybe I am barking up the wrong tree and I am actually really damaging her. Maybe every time I watch her go through those doors in the morning I am condemning her to almost 6 hours of unremitting emotional torment. I just don’t know. And she can’t tell me.

There are five more school days in this term. The last one has a Christmas service at the sister school in the next village, but M has told me that she can’t deal with being in a place with lots of people she doesn’t know, so I will be talking to school on Monday to arrange an alternative morning for her. I even asked what she would choose to do and she said “art” so I will see if there is a decoration she can bet set to making as there are bound to be lots of scraps of glittery paper around.

And then we will have two weeks off, no school, no dancing classes, no Sunday School, just us, all seven of us home for the holidays. With any luck I can persuade E, “uni sister” to drop her mainly nocturnal habits for a fortnight and give M some desperately needed sibling cuddles, and we shall tackle January when it arrives.

Thanks for reading.

Perspective and Plays

11 Dec

Luckily the week has improved for me after the disaster that was Monday.

Yesterday I forced myself to eat and to leave the house to do some chores, both of which helped my mood immensely. Today, although still very tired after a spectacularly late night (which I am not discussing as it concerns someone else)  I have been very busy, to the extent that I forgot to eat lunch, but the day has gone well. I have been helping someone out with a problem of enormous dimensions, and although I have done a very small part in helping, it has made me realise that things like running out of oil are by and large trivial matters – unless of course you live in Alaska or Siberia – so I have gained some much needed perspective on my misery. I’m not saying I could have acted any differently on Monday, but with some distance even the problems I found overwhelming 48 hours ago are finding their level on the “be annoyed but keep calm” shelf of life.

So, plays. Or rather, the primary school Christmas offering. Wee man did his part very well today and was wonderfully convincing as a grumpy ghost of Christmas past. His nerves nearly got the better of him this morning but a good breakfast settled his tummy and it was lovely to watch him.

M, who had been so terribly anxious about being involved at all, sat – well wriggled – on her chair and watched the whole thing with a smile on her face. She joined in with some of the songs and I could tell she knew almost all the words. She was absolutely delighted to find her name in the programme against the words scenery technician which is only fair as she made a vast amount of the scenery. I must stick my head into the school hall tomorrow morning and take a quick photo as I forgot. Her school have really listened about how she wasn’t coping with the whole concept of involvement but have let her work behind the scenes and given her appropriate credit for her work which has kept her included. Inclusion is only working if every child feels safe and valued and this has been the case here. 

Wee man would like me to go and watch it again tomorrow but I’m not sure that M will cope a second time. If I can find someone to look after her for an hour I might go as it really was very good and it would be nice to support B. 

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Struggling

10 Dec

I’m not even sure where to start. It’s usually wee M who is the subject of my written thought processes but tonight it’s me. I have been visited by the black dog. He came in somehow yesterday and by lunch time he was one psycho puppy. Unfortunately he decided to take me along for a particularly bumpy ride with him and I can’t shake him off. 

It hasn’t helped that the washing machinehas gone wrong, the main door lock broke and we ran out heating oil this morning. Any one of these would have upset a regular day but all three together have conspired to make today a truly epic fail.The good news, because there is some,is I had a shower at a friends because the immersion heater was taking too long, another friend let me use her machine, and hubby has brought home and fitted a new lock.

Sadly none of the above has made me feel any better in myself. I am trying to tell myself that two horrendous days do not mean I shall be falling headlong into a pit of despair but the truth is I have been scared in case the  depression of the past creeps up on me to a point where I am barely functioning.

I shall attack tomorrow with all the energy I can find. I have made notes of things I intend to achieve during the day so hopefully having a list will be helpful. And luckily tomorrow evening the autism centre is having a craft session for the children so it will be a welcome opportunity for me to see some people I can be myself with, without need to pretend if I am feeling meh

As for M, she’s not had a great start to the week either. Sunday was spent recovering from a meal out on Saturday evening which she found simply too noisy to cope with. Her erratic behaviour and mod swings spilled over into this mornings school run which made it stressful for everyone. I know her anxiety levels are very high right now due to the Christmas preparations at school and the continued worry about the school play. However that has now been sorted – M will have a home dinner and stay at home with me for the afternoon session on one day, and have a Christmas school meal and watch the play on the other. All pressure to be involved in any way “front of house” has been removed. Another good mark for the school that listens.

So, it’s not all doom and gloom. Tomorrow is another day and all that.

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