Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Wow.

Listen. Can you hear it???

The sound of silence. A beautiful thing indeed and not something our house is usually blessed with between the hours of 5.30am - 11pm . Or did someone hit the mute button?!

Sometimes, I LOVE the TV :)

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Children's Clothes

*How* difficult is it to successfully pass clothes down from one child to another?? I've had a whole DAY to myself today, something of a strange and new experience and have spent the morning trying to purchase the necessary items my children perpetually grow out of at the wrong time (ie out of season) and the afternoon in the loft (the confession of which will mean I have to endure hours of rib-tickling attempts from my husband tonight since I am known for liking time in our loft tidying and sorting, even when 7 months pregnant with twins!!) vainly attempting to organise what seemed like twelve years of boys clothes and miraculously find those the younger two might fit.

My daughter is a so easy. Apart from the odd item passed on from kind friends I buy new and guilt-free. I must say though that now I actually *have* a daughter the girls clothes available in the High Street leave a lot to be desired, but I'll save that for another post. The boys I attempt to pass clothes down with because it's more environmentally and purse friendly and I like what I buy. Or at least, I did. When I bought them - which might be 8+ years ago by the time son #3 gets to wear it. First there is the problem of successfully storing the clothes #1 son grows out of - which he does at an alarming rate and never wears anything out so there are a LOT. We have plenty of loft space but I always seem to miss the right box at the right time. Or maybe it is that despite being only 4 years younger than his older brother #2 son takes nearer 6 years to grow into his clothes - which *completely* throws my organisational system out.

Then there is the fact that #2 son is VERY particular about his clothes. Particularly particular you might say. We have (thankfully) made progress from everything being blue or black but he does have some very fixed ideas about clothes that feel "right" and are therefore acceptable. Then there is the fact he is positively tiny, several clothes years behind chronological ones. Son #3 has inherited or learned to have far too much to say about what he wears and is heading the same way and is actually fast catching up his next oldest brother, they already share socks and wellies and almost shoes.

Today I discovered a whole box of clothes son #3 *should* have in his wardrobe...... but despite my best efforts to persuade myself that the new things I bought this morning should therefore be returned I'm less than keen. Eight years is a long time no matter what condition they might be in and we are fortunate enough for me to keep what I bought today nonetheless. The guilt is slightly harder to dispose of though. Thank God for ebay!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

First steps

I remember the day each of my children took their first steps, my sons all in a hurry - falling frequently, and my daughter's patient wait until the perfectionist in her was satisfied she could stand and walk independently without the embarrassment and frustration of falling! Such a magical moment as each proudly made the transition from baby to toddler. Little did I realise that nearly twelve years on my eldest would be taking another set of uncertain steps and that I would feel just as proud, excited and nervous.

Yesterday he was allowed to begin using his left leg after three months spent  recovering from a twice-fractured ankle. Initially his wasted left foot was too painful to weight bear but the resilience and determination of children is something to behold and tonight he is already more steady and confident. It will no doubt take some time for the muscles to regrow and strengthen, his foot appears a whole size smaller than the right (both narrower and shorter) and his shoe barely stays on initially! However it rapidly tightens as the reluctant tissue around the joint swells with unfamiliar use.

He's still dependent on crutches and will be for a week or two yet but this is every bit as thrilling as those first steps over eleven years ago. Mobility - and normality beckons!!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Families

Family quarrels are bitter things.  They don't go by any rules.  They're not like aches or wounds; they're more like splits in the skin that won't heal because there's not enough material.  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

How true. Especially when thousands of miles prevent reconciliation and blinkered  hypocrisy prohibits the ironic enlightenment that we are not so very different.

Monday, 1 March 2010

The concept of "normal"

Recent events coupled with deep thinking about our second son's future have initiated a new contemplation of the concept of "normal". When does something not "normal" become a problem requiring "fixing" and when is it evidence of the need for an environmental change to accommodate difference when someone cannot meed averages and stereotypes?

H struggles with school, he has Asperger's Syndrome, which means his social skills and understanding are years behind his peers. Yet he is extremely bright - no, gifted - in many areas and the vast majority of his knowledge was not gained at school but in the real world. Because he struggles so much with the real world on so many levels, it is understandably felt that social learning within school is of paramount importance and learning to "get along with" ones peers of huge significance. Interesting then, that his social skills improve dramatically in the school holidays when the huge anxiety that is school disappears for a few weeks. His self confidence grows and his behaviour improves.

I say "improves", our complex child doesn't suddenly and dramatically "lose" his difficulties, cease struggling in a world which fails him all too often but the reduction in anxiety is nonetheless liberating and significant. His frustrations at learning in an artificial environment with rules tailored to the majority and a focus on learning as a group ebb away and the real learning begins. For H is a child with an enquiring mind and the knowledge, means and understanding to satisfy it and it is distressing to see him turned off the concept of learning whilst attending school.

Not for one minute would I criticise his school though - they have bent over backwards to accommodate his differences, help him "fit in" and make friends. They have the same agenda that we do - wanting H to be happy, sociable, have friends and if he learns in school as well then that's fantastic. But at what point do you stop trying to change the peg and look more closely instead at the hole you are forcing it into? Most children may be similar shapes, fitting well into the hole provided by school - certainly our other three children would seem to be and love school. but when is enough enough? The third medication, the 25 hour Statement or the Special Needs placement? When is it "OK" to deny a huge part of your child just to ensure he has a chance of being acceptable to society?

Time I think to look at that hole - and perhaps find a new one. I personally feel H will be a happier, more fulfilled, self-confident individual better equipped to face life in the "real world" when we acknowledge his differences and work with him rather than against him. I can't change the world for my son but I can help him work with his strengths rather than battle his weaknesses.

At the moment, the law still states that parents have a legal responsibility to ensure their child receives an appropriate education. That doesn't have to be in a school and doesn't have to come direct from the government. Unfortunately the current government have turned their misguided spotlight on Home Educators in a tragic attempt to meet their own criteria for protecting vulnerable children, forgetting of course that even school educated children spend a large percentage of their time at home! If you are at all interested in the current Review read this excellent critique here . But for us, whilst we still have the chance in this increasingly State controlled country I'm seriously considering giving it, and H a chance!
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