I’ve spoken before about Oscar starting nursery. I’ve been at home with him since he was born and although his funding doesn’t kick in until Sept 2015, we decided a while back that a small amount of time away from me every week would not be a bad thing for him. In fact we think it’d be really good. Well I think it will be, or am I just blinded by the need I have for time away from him? I wish I could be one of those mums who can happily be by the side of her offspring 24/7, but lets face facts, I’m not and I believe I only made it this far as a SAHM because he sleeps well, both in the day and the night!
Anyway, we had Oscar’s first settling in session at our chosen pre-school last week and I wont lie to you, I was nervous. Much more than I thought I would be and not because I was upset at the thought him growing up, or the thought of having to eventually leave him (we stayed with him for this session) or any of those reasonable worries. I was just petrified he’d turn his face against it, have a melt down, or push someone over. We know that Oscar’s limited speech sometimes results in very physical communication and in an environment he’d only ever been to once before, six months ago… well you get the picture.
Ben took the day off work so we could go together and we tried to explain where we were going to Oscar. As I’m never sure how much he understands, I decided the best thing to do was to stay calm and show him with my behaviour how wonderful a place this was. He let me carry him into the nursery, but once we were inside he wanted down and he was off. We were welcomed by the Head, who I said “hi” to as I ran past her in an attempt to keep up with Oscar. It was only when I was told to leave Oscar in the capable hands of the Head and taken to meet with his Key Worker that I came away from hovering directly over him, running from thing to thing, as he discovered this exciting new world. It was great to meet with the Key Worker. Her whole career has been as a Special Education Needs teacher and she has a wealth of experience of dealing with non verbal children. She gave me great confidence in her and in the school’s capacity to help him, to help me. I know it’s just a feeling and I have no evidence to back this up yet, but sometimes a feeling is all you’ve got to go on. After all it was only a feeling that made us chose this nursery over others in the first place.
We chatted and discussed various communication methods and strategies etc, but I could feel I wasn’t fully paying attention. I just couldn’t stop my eyes flicking from her to him. It was so very rude, but I couldn’t help it. I’m so not used to someone else being ‘responsible’ for him. Every time I looked, I would feel panic rising if I couldn’t see him straight away, not because I was worried he may not be safe, but I needed to know what he was doing and who he was doing it too, constantly. It was exhausting. Only this is what I do all the time and I never really noticed how exhausting it is. As it happens he had a whale of a time, moving from one activity to the next, enjoying each in turn. He played with the ‘everyday living’ skills area and liked the nature table. He rang the bells in the music area and painted a ‘sticky box’ (without trying to paint the child next to him!) When we had to leave he started to cry, until he was given a rice cake. Then he walked out happily, holding my hand. I was slightly flabbergasted really. At no point did I see him push anyone, or even look like he might. He never once got upset and spent the whole time either deep in concentration or laughing.
I don’t think I had realised how apprehensive I had been about this experience. As I got in the car I could physically feel my shoulders relax. It was like I was exhaling for the first time in so very long. I know they talk about having a weight lifted, but this really did feel like something had changed. I know it was only one session and I haven’t even left him yet, but I suddenly felt the presence of other hands. I think it’s called support.
We were so very proud of him that we took him to ASK to have his favourite carbonara for lunch. He was a dream in the restaurant, eating loads and charming the waitress and the other diners.
In the afternoon, buoyed by the success of the morning, we took him for a walk up to The Devils Punchbowl. He walked/ran just ahead of us in the path and jumped in puddles ’til his little heart was content. He came when called and revelled in the small amount of freedom we gave him. We took the buggy with us, just in case, and only after a mile and half of walking, did he climb, unprompted and quietly, in to it. We didn’t strap him in and he didn’t try and get out. It was a great end to a fantastic day.
The whole experience really was a revelation to me. Yes there may be times when he can’t do things, even these things, but there are days when he can. I need to have more faith in his abilities.
And to remember to breathe out once in a while.