End of an era

So here I am. Sat in my favourite Haslemere haunt. My plans for today much the same as the plans I’ve had most days since Oscar started preschool 19 months ago. Drink coffee, write words, catch up on social media. You know, stuff.

But today is different. In as much as it is the same, it really is different. Today is Oscar’s last day at preschool. They are having a big party in a local park tomorrow, but as far as walking him to the scout hut, dropping him off, and walking away, to any one of the local coffee hangouts, but more likely than not Dylan’s, alone, well this is the end.

I’ve cried this morning. I honestly surprised myself. I didn’t think I’d feel just so, well, sad. But I do. Wrapping the chocolates and writing the cards for his Keyworker and TA was hard. I guess that’s what happens when you leave these things to the last minute (typical me)!

Wrapped gifts

He felt it. Of course he did, he always does. He picks up emotions in the air like the smell of freshly baked bread. And it affects him. He cried and told me he was “sad”. That he was “crying from my eyes”. But he couldn’t tell me why. He doesn’t understand that he won’t be going back to his nursery again, and I don’t really know how to make him understand. I’ve all sorts of exprience of preparing him for things that are coming up, that are yet to be, but no idea how to explain the things that won’t be anymore.

The walk to preschool was harder than usual, but he ran in just as happy as ever. I feel like I should give him that. One last day when it’s all ok, all the same. Maybe I’ll regret not trying to prep him better somewhere down the line, but at the moment, for who he is now and what I know about him, this is the right way.

Myself, I thought I was prepared. I’ve been counting down the weeks, for weeks. And now here I am. And all that prep has made no difference. Because as much as it’s his last day, it’s kind of my last day too. The end of an era, the end of my routine. I will never be a preschool mum again. And while that is my choice, and a choice I still stand by, I didn’t realise it how sad it would make me feel. How lonely.

But I owe it to him to focus on the positive. So happy last day at preschool my beautiful boy. Let’s concentrate on the fun we’ll have this summer and the awesome school you’re starting in September. And mummy promises not to let you see her cry.

Much. Thank you card from Gin Bunny Prints

What to do with your Preschoolers Artwork

When Oscar started preschool back in January 2015, I was adamant I would keep and display any artwork he came home with. Within the first week he came home with enough daubs to wallpaper the house. I had no idea what dross the nursery would consider his art and pass on to me to deal with! OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh, some of it is beautiful in its own right. I actually do have one of his first paintings on the stair wall. I was struck by how much like a Japanese scroll it looked and I love displaying it. But seriously, most of it is enormous pieces of A3 size paper with a couple of splashes of paint on it. And quite quickly I realised these rolls of “art” we’re going to take over my house if I kept them all.

So last summer I came up with various way to use his art. Some of it I used as wrapping paper. This went down a storm with the recipients but the paper the nursery use is quite thick and wrapping with it was physically difficult. However, if you can manage it I highly recommend it. It looks wonderfully effective, particularly when tied with string. Some of it I did actually display. I had a mind to display one new piece a week, in a sort of gallery, but he brings home sooooooo much, that it didn’t really work as a thing. I gave some to grandparents and great grandparents, but again it did nothing to even dent the pile I had growing in the conservatory. And so that’s when I came up with the idea of consolidating it.

It worked so well and the resultant gift was so gratefully received that when the art work started to build up again this year, I decided to do the same again.

Just two terms worth of preschool artwork

Just two terms worth of preschool artwork. Each roll has several pieces of A3 paper, some with just a few strokes.

You will need a way to cut the artwork (I use my Scotch Saftey Cutter), plain A4 paper and glue.

You will need: a tonne of toddler paintings, a way to cut the artwork (I use my Scotch Safety Cutter), plain A4 paper and glue.

Start by cutting the artwork into strips.

Start by cutting the artwork into strips.

I like to cut across the lines, so you can still see the strokes.

I like to cut across the line of paint, so you can still see the brush strokes.

Start gluing them on the paper in a haphazard manner. The idea is to build up layer of colour.

Start gluing the strips onto the A4 paper in a haphazard manner. The idea is to build up layers of colour.

Glue the pieces so they lie over the edge of the paper

Glue the strips so they over lap the edge of the paper

Like so. When you feel you have enough colour you can trim these pieces off

Like so. When you feel you have enough colour you can trim the excess off

Et voila, one massive pile of art, is now one cool piece of design.

Et voila, one massive pile of art, is now one cool piece of design.

Now you can either frame it, which is what Ben’s mum did with the piece I made for her last summer. Or I am also thinking you could cut out shapes from the newly created artwork and frame those on a white background. Oscar loves fish at the moment and fish shapes cut out of this would look awesome in his room.

What do you do with all the artwork your children bring home? I’m always looking for new ideas!

 

Our first school trip

Oscar’s preschool often take their children out. To the local woods, to buildings of interest, to churches etc. So far Oscar has not joined his friends on any of these trips and I’ve been fine with that. His understanding of change in routine and his perception of danger mean it just hasn’t been worth it for him. However recently he’s seemed more able to cope, more able to hold my hand when asked. I mentioned to his TA that the next time they go to the woods, I would like Oscar to join in and I would happily come with him. I felt it was time to try.

As it happened their next scheduled trip was to the local Cupcake shop, to support this term’s theme ‘The Jobs People Do’. The nursery suggested Oscar and I come too and I agreed. For all sorts of logistical reasons I suggested we meet them at Mirrabelles, which we did bang on 10am. We were the only ones there for 15 minutes. In some respects that was great. Oscar went straight in, sat down, did some colouring, had a little look round, all while holding my hand. He did bloody brilliantly.

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On the other hand it was a pain in the proverbial, because by the time they eventually turned up, he’d used up a large proportion of his ‘sitting still and being quiet’ quota. This annoyed me, but what can you do? Any who, the thing that made me beam from ear to ear was how happy the other children were to see him, with several of them shouting ‘OSCAR!!’ with such joy when they saw him. It broke my heart with cute!

Needless to say he struggled to sit and watch the cake making demonstration. He attended here and there, but really it wasn’t exciting enough to hold him from a distance. He’s used to getting up close and personal when we bake, so I can see why he struggled. It didn’t help that the shop had placed bowls of maltesers, chocolate buttons and sprinkles on the tables (for the children to decorate the cakes with) and told them not to touch. I know the children have to learn self discipline, but this just felt mean to me! Of course Oscar looked like the only one making a big deal about it because he’s loud, but his Key Worker told me later other children had also snuck a choccie here and there, but because they did it quietly no one noticed!

Mixing it up!

Mixing it up!

So yeah he walked/ran about a bit, he played with our friend who also happened to be there and he was sad he couldn’t eat the chocolate on the tables. But do you know, he didn’t have a single melt down. In fact he was mostly happy the whole time we were there, even if he wasn’t doing exactly what was expected of him. Eventually his TA convinced him to sit back down and they were given iced cakes to decorate. And rather than choff the sweets he now had his hands on he decorated his cake, just like every one else. They were then told not to eat the cakes and to put them in a box. So he had a cheeky nibble and did just that, with barely a fuss. I was gob smacked!

Sitting and decorating

Sitting and decorating

Nibble nibble

Nibble nibble

I had no idea how this trip would go. We went in with a positive attitude and an acceptance that we might need to pack up and leave if it didn’t work. But it did work. He was included. And while it was tiring, it was totally worth it. And not just because he insisted we share his cake when we got home!

What a guy!

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Mummy and Monkeys

Thursday’s Child

Thursday is turning into my least favourite day of the week. Not that it was ever my most favourite, but you know what I mean. If Thursday is the new Friday for you then that’s super. For me it’s sucks right about now.

Thursday’s are when go on my Early Bird course. Early Bird is a course for the parents of preschoolers with a diagnosis of autism, run by the National Autistic Society. I was told to put our names on the waiting list for it the day he was diagnosed. It’s basically Autism 101 for beginners, or as we call it in our house Autism School. I don’t know, I’ve only done three sessions and had one home visit and while it’s giving me stuff to think about and suggesting reasons why some of Oscar’s behaviour may be happening etc, it’s not (and it’s not meant to be) giving me all the answers. But sometimes answers are all I want. The ‘whys’ are coming but not the ‘how’s’ and that can be frustrating. I’ll get there I know that.

The other thing that’s hard about it, is having to spend two full hours with Oscar’s Autism up in my face. I’m not saying I usually live in denial, I promise I don’t, but having to look at it in such sharp relief is exhausting. I feel sick every week. It’s just so intense.

But one of the most stressful thing about Thursdays are the logistics of it. The course is being held over on the other side of Guildford and as you know I don’t drive. Originally when I got the offer of a place I was going to turn it down. It was so far away. But children’s services were so keen for me to do it, they found a little bit of funding, to cover just some of the cost of getting a cab. Which was very sweet of them. But transport wasn’t the only reason I was going to turn the course down. Who was going to look after Oscar?

To be fair, Oscar was already down to go to nursery on a Thursday but I may have explained before that to avoid the morning rush we usually arrive a little later and leave a little earlier. Meaning he was due to go to nursery over the exact hours the course runs. Half an hours drive away. So the lovely children’s services lady (seriously I have never met anyone so good at their job!) talked the preschool into agreeing they’d take him 9.30-1 instead, leaving me half an hour either side to drop off and pick up. Cutting it fine, but needs must.

So far he’s been awesome at waiting in the morning. Only he doesn’t queue. He won’t and I can’t make him. It’s the reason we haven’t done it before now. And that’s fine, the nursery don’t expect him to and are happy for him to just run in when the doors open, no handshake, no queuing. And the other children don’t seem to care either. The other parents however. Ahhhh. The good British parent. Who loves a queue. Well…

I can’t blame them really, they don’t know me and few of them know the reasons I have agreed to drop him and run on a Thursday. But what do I do? Stand up in front of them all and explain? Should I really need to do that? I don’t want to. But when people start physically blocking you from passing and your child’s already run in the room and you have to give your child’s bag to a friend to give to the teachers? Well maybe I need to.

Thursday’s are stressful at the moment. Pissy looks and childish behaviour I’d normally brush off or laugh at I find I can’t. Instead, I end up running out with tears pricking my eyes, while they get to queue. Orderly and beautifully.

Yeah, Thursday’s suck right now.

New Lunch Bag

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So a few weeks ago you may remember I wrote about how Oscar needed a new lunch bag. Nothing exciting in that. In fact it could be seen as tres boring in fact. But he didn’t need a new bag because the old one was knackered (it is) or filthy (yeah that too) or because he didn’t like it any more (I have no idea if he likes it) or that he wanted one covered in Minions or Spiderman or any other character you care to mention (he has yet to express a preference for any characters – bar maybe Thomas). No we needed a new bag, because too many children at his preschool had the same or similar ones and this was causing something of an issue. Oscar’s autism means he sees things in quite literal terms. His lunch bag looked a certain way, therefore any bag that looked the same was his bag. End of. It was causing all sorts of upset, when he saw others taking what he thought was his bag. We needed to look at this from a different angle.

I wrote this post about some unusual lunch bags, ones other children were less likely to have. It got a wonderful response and one of my British friends who now lives in the States was kind enough to offer to take delivery of my favourite bag, only available in the US, and bring it over with her when she visited in September. How lovely is that?!

Dabbawalla Bags are made of a neoprene type fabric and are nice and roomy, without being heavy which is great for little hands. Also (get this) they’re fully washable! Fab for my mucky toddler that’s for sure. You can get a limited number of designs from various sites here in the UK, but the American site had way more designs to chose from including my favourite one. This one in fact:

The Stars and Stripe Design

The Stars and Stripe Design

I managed to get the bag off my friend last night and instantly knew I’d made the right choice. Isn’t it gorgeous?

There’s an extra pocket on the outside (under the stripes) and two netted pockets inside to hold a drink or an item you don’t want rolling around. It’s just so cool!

I’m pretty sure no one else will have this bag, or even anything close to it, but just in case they do, I took advantage of the personalisation service Dabbawalla Bags offer (in the States but not in the UK). Yes, just in case, it’s even got his name embroidered on it!

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I’m thrilled with it and guess what, so is Oscar.

Hug?

I love my new bag!

And I couldn’t have come at a better time either. This term Oscar will be staying at preschool for lunch on a Thursday to enable me to attend a course. And when he does he’ll be taking his food in a snazzy, functional and (hopefully) unique lunch bag!

 

I was not paid to write this post and bought the bag with my own money. I just like sharing things I love.

A massive thank you to Heather and Glen for bringing the bag over and getting it to us safely. We’re so very grateful!

A Cornish Mum