The summer holidays didn’t really leave me with any time for keeping up to date with the blog so there’s lots of stuff to catch up on. The main piece of news is that Thurston is now a fully functioning full-time school boy!
Back in September we went shopping for school uniform which was a trial in itself as Thurston is roughly the size of a small 2 year old. All his uniform, satchel and lunchbox was ready to go, I just wasn’t entirely convinced that he was! After having 6 weeks away from nursery, it would be fair to say that Thurston had completely forgotten that he ever had to do anything independent from me! To be honest, he’d been a bit of a pain for a lot of the summer. He was fantastic when we kept busy, but the fluctuating weather meant that a lot of the time was spent indoors which was fairly stressful. By the time the new term started, I was more than ready to share the load!
However, the logistics of Thurston starting school were complicated to say the least. My two older children already attend two separate schools due to their ages. Louis is already at junior school and Zeke is in his last year of infant school. I looked into sending Thurston to Zeke’s school but they were very uncooperative when it came to his special needs, and made me feel like it would be a hassle for them to have him. Considering the school where he attended nursery were practically biting my hand off to take him, it seemed like a no-brainer where he should go. I’m not willing to compromise on the way he needs to be looked after and I decided to send him to the school where he was wanted. This meant that I now had the challenge of getting 3 children to 3 schools by 8:50am every day. Thurston’s school is a 35 minute walk away or a 6-7 minute drive plus finding a parking space. I do not drive as yet, however even if I did, it is actually not even possible to do all 3 kids in the car. I recently found this out when Alex had a stomach bug and my mum (my lovely contingency plan) had food poisoning on the same day. My lovely dad stepped in to help but didn’t know where each child’s classroom was so he drove me around to pick them up. Zeke finishes at 3pm, so we got him, hopped in the car and went to get Thurston who finishes at 3:10pm. I was 4 minutes late which was enough to send him into a whack-attack and by the time I arrived he was laying on the floor blubbing away, and his teachers looked fairly bedraggled too! I strapped him into the car seat and got back into the car to drive back and get Louis who finished at 3:15pm so he was the last child in the entire school waiting for a parent. I didn’t feel quite as bad about that as Louis loves a drama and a spot of guilt-tripping, so he was quite thrilled with the turn of events!!
All of this proved to me what I already knew, that the school run for our family is literally impossible for one person, it is a 2 man job. I don’t like to rely on family help as they are my kids and I want to do things myself as much as possible. I call my family when I’m stuck and need a hand, but I didn’t want them to be in charge of school runs and childcare on a daily basis. Alex therefore has had to take a cut in his hours and now works 9:30-2:30 so that he can take and collect Thurston every day. Obviously, this means even less money, which is tricky, but for us, it really is the only option. I have had people in the past make snide comments about me receiving Carer’s Allowance and Thurston receiving DLA, but I think people often don’t realise the financial sacrifices that need to be made to ensure a kid with special needs gets the care that they need. I would have loved nothing more than to take my kids to school together and say goodbye at the school gates like the other mums, but Thurston’s needs had to take priority, which means that we have lost a significant amount of earnings, as well as me losing out on important parts of Thurston’s life.
It is lovely for Alex to take Thurston to school and pick him up every day, but I do feel a bit detached from him now. I was so used to doing absolutely everything for him and now, I don’t even do the basics anymore. He even has his Speech Therapist go to school, so his one-to-one is doing his therapy with him. I know I sound like a crazy, over-protective mum, but I’m honestly a little bit jealous of his one-to-one!! He does things for her, he has never done for me. She said he can spell his name in magnets, she even got him to make a pizza! He has recently started talking in little sentences every so often, and people are telling me how well he must be doing at school to have come on so quickly. What about the 4 years I was taking him to 3 therapy appointments every week and taking him to Makaton courses???! Don’t I deserve even a tiny scrap of credit?! The final straw came the other day when I said to him “do you love mummy?” (usually greeted with a firm “oh yes”) only to be slapped in the face with “no, I love Mrs W!”. That one hurt.
I have become secretly pleased and ever so slightly smug when Thurston has little acts of defiance at school. Most mums would be happy to hear that their child has learnt 3 phonics sounds especially a child with special needs. However, I have become so warped with the situation that I am much happier when I hear that he has thrown a big tub of magnets over the carpet or has done a massive fart while they have story time. They are small but significant victories for me!
Of course, in my right mind, I am absolutely thrilled that Thurston has settled in so well to his new school, and the transition was a hell of a lot smoother than I had anticipated. The school could not be more helpful or understanding of Thurston and his needs, and are actually managing to give him an education at the same time as covering his care and social needs, which is remarkable. It is the best school we could have chosen for him and I know he will do well there, and that it was worth all the financial and emotional sacrifices. It would just be nice if every once in a while he had a little cry that he missed me, just for my mum-ego!!