Failing to start as we mean to go on

So, I survived the summer holidays. Started a post about that the other day, might finish it soon.

Now, I’m back into “it”, whatever it is, signs of starting to cope less than optimally with “it” (life?) creeping back in.

But today (tonight? This morning? It’s technically tomorrow as I haven’t gone to bed yet, if you see what I mean. Today(yesterday?) is not one to count towards my sensible bedtime vaim (=vague aim) ). Right now, I’m just thinking about the Post-First-Day-At-Junior-School-Boy.

I must admit, I was surprised. You see the boy likes new experiences.* They are new opportunities to find out stuff. So when the infant school made a big effort to take all the SEN kids across the road to the juniors to find out stuff/acclimatise I thought, whilst it was nice they were making the effort, it probably wasn’t actually needed by him. I confidently predicted to anyone in earshot that he would be fine for the first few weeks, with problems only starting to emerge nearer Christmas.

Well, today I was WRONG. I don’t know how he was at school, but by the time I got him he was a mess.

It started with the school run. I was at home, reading a book, waiting for the reliable friend to drop something round about an hour before the end of school. I had noticed he was running a bit late, but he’s reliable, so it can’t be time to go to school yet as he hasn’t contacted me. Meanwhile, there isn’t time to do much before he turns up and I’m tired so I’m reading. Actually it feels like it’s getting quite late, I may have to leave soon if he’s not here, I’ll just go and check the time OH BUGGER SCHOOL ENDS IN 3 MINUTES, ARGGHHH. (I should probably leave 10 mins before school ends to ensure being there on time, 5 mins is starting to risk being late, 2 mins is not enough time).

I run to school and go to pick up the girl first. Not sure why. Amazingly her class hasn’t come out yet, with hindsight they must have come out late. When she does come out she has a sweet, turns out a classmate brought one each for all of them, which is in direct contradiction to the School’s healthy eating policy, but what is really bugging me now is there is one sweet and the Boy is Not Going To be Happy. Around this point I realise that in my rush I forgot the after school snack. I tell the girl to eat it quickly on the way to him so he see’s no evidence.

We cross the road and hit a solid wave of people coming out of the junior school entrance. We are most definitely going against the tide. Luckily we travel in the wake of some more experienced people also going our way and soon we’re nearly at his classroom. At this point I realise that the girl hasn’t half finished the sweet. I tell her to bung it all in her mouth and the put wrapper in the bin. She refuses and is taking smaller and smaller nibbles. We are around the corner from his classroom. I try and leave her there to finish it whilst I get him, she starts to follow me. I have to take her back and harass her several times before it’s safe to go.

There are the steps down from his new classroom. His coat and bag are on the floor at the top of them. There is someone, presumably a TA in the doorway, she calls into the classroom to the boy that she thinks his mum is here. He comes out crouching (yes, crouching, that shuffley movement kind of in between crawling and walking if that makes sense) and is clearly cross with me. He wastes no time in telling me why I’m late, I’m always late picking him up, I always pick his sister up first, it’s not fair, she always has to go to the toilet, etc etc. I explain we came straight here, that she didn’t go to the toilet, her class must’ve just been late out, I promise to pick him up first tomorrow.

We go down the stairs, TA goes inside the classroom and before I know it he’s lying face down on a bench crying. Proper crying, I see a couple of droplets on the bench after.

He is being Unreasonable. By which I mean less that his behaviour is unreasonable (although I must admit it does feel that way to me, however), the reasonableness or not of his behaviour is not the point at this stage, it just is. No I mean he cannot be reasoned with – he is -Un-Reasonable-With. He’s also pretty hard to console. And to ingore. I’m realise I’m waiting for a member of staff to emerge as surely they must with this noise. Then I realise I’m not embarassed at this thought, I’m kind of hoping they will, not because I think I need help, but just to get them to witness what a day at their school has done to him. No-one appears.

There appear to be several reasons why he’s upset. Something about only having one turn on a skateboard. He’s also definitely upset that the toilets smell. But the main one, for me at least, is that he doesn’t appear to have had a drink all day. There is a water fountain in the playground. His sister is trying hard to use it and it seems to be taking a lot of contortion on her part to get any in her mouth. Apparently it’s impossible to get water out of (hyperbole definitely but I can see he has a point) and they weren’t allowed to try for long (I’m guessing there was a queue of kids?). I also discover that there was no water available at lunchtime. I sent him with a packed lunch, I didn’t include a drink, I rarely do, in my experience water is always available in the school canteen. Apparently this is not the case in the juniors. He has my sympathy. I would be kranky without a drink all day. Of course, he could’ve asked a teacher, but I think with 7 year olds the onus really has to be on the staff to provide adequate access to water.

Well, I manage to use an empty tupperware from his lunchbox as a cup and get him some water. We go home. He has another patch of Unreasonablywithness (complete with loud sound effects and stomping off to his room) after his dad gets home – this time the trigger is sharing of beads as obviously his sister needs to give him that bead that she’s already strung on her necklace as he’s making his symmetrical and he’s already put the only other one like it on his creation.

Oh, and I find out that he’s having a different teacher tomorrow. I ask him if he knows why his teacher can’t be there on the 2nd day of term, it feels a strange time to have a replacement. Turns out this teacher will always have the class on Fridays. He only found out today. All that work trying to help him get used to the school in advance and they didn’t think to tell him that his teacher was only his teacher 80% of the time and 20% of the time it was someone else! (Ok, I accept that technically they could’ve told him and he’s forgotten. But that is highly unlikely. This is Mr Retention of Facts Boy we’re talking about. I am also surprised at this news. It doesn’t even ring a bell. This does not bode well on school/pupil/home communication front).

So, to my surprise, that was not what I expected for him after his first day. I hope it was a blip, but to have such a wobble so uncharacteristically early in the term is worrying. I’m also quite cross. Yes, school is compulsory (well, schooling is technically, before anyone points out I could homeschool him. The point for now is that he’s enrolled so attendance is compulsory) but it should not reduce children to blubbering distraught emotional fireworks. If a job did that to an adult it would not be considered acceptable. So why should it be ok for kids?

I also got a Brown Envelope. The school want me to sign a form to let him onto their Thrive program. It has sections about sharing data with other agencies. I want to scrawl all over it in big letters that my consent is conditional on the school sharing data with me. I realise I never wrote that letter to the infants, the holidays have just flown by. Another thing for the to do list. In the meantime, the photocopied covering letter vaguely mentions that I can Talk to The School if I have Worries about the program. Something clicks in my head, a justified fear (based on the experience of their colleagues over the road) that they won’t tell me anything once I’ve signed the paper – that’s a worry. I will make an appointment to see “them”. Not sure who “them” are or how I make an appointment. The covering letter is a bit vague on that. But I will find out. And I will talk to “them” about water and about 1 day at school reducing him to a state I haven’t seen him in weeks while I’m at it.

Right, plan. For one small sliver of my life (I mean, this piece of admin, not my son, he’s a big welcome chunk of my life 🙂 ). Now, to do all the other stuff that I need to do as well. Like sleep. And work out what the heck is bothering hubby, I think he might be feeling F.I.N.E. but I’m not sure that I have the energy right now. Also, I think part of me may be feeling F.I.N.E. myself.

*Yes, yes, I realise this is the exact opposite of what you might expect of a kid with ASC, but what can I say, everyone’s different + he’s not been assessed yet and maybe we’re all barking up the wrong tree + the fact that this assumes the new experience fits in with Boy Logic (which is a slightly different criteria to the new experience being expected. Last minute “logical” changes – e.g. friend no longer coming as they’re ill, are ok as he understands people get ill unexpectedly. “Illogical changes” – e.g. you brought me my favourite brand of thick chocolate milkshake for after school snack, when however much I like it and however filling it is it’s clearly a drink, not a snack – can be most definitely not ok, and he pulls no punches explaining this.

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