Today was the last day before the October half term and it coincided with my parent coffee morning at school. As school photographs were being taken all day in the meeting room where I usually host this event for parents, we were diverted to the open plan dining hall in the centre of the school. At first I was uncertain as to how it would work, without access to a kettle or washing up facilities but we coped and it gave us a better perspective of the busy-ness of the school and we felt more part of the school than normal. There was a constant stream of staff and pupils passing through curious about what we were doing and even more interested in our sweet treats – brownies, banoffee pie and shortbread!
I am never sure who will attend, although over the last year we’ve gained a core following. But I was delighted that four new faces joined us this month – one mother said that in the 13 years her child had been at the school , this was the first time she had attended such an event and that she would come along again, which was a great result.
But my favourite moment by far was when one pupil spotted us as he was walking back to his classroom. He diverted to the tables we were occupying and I thought was visiting his mother but instead, with a smile he pointed at my baking and shouted ‘cake, cake!’ Then he approached his mum, sat on her knee and gave her a cuddle. we all enjoyed witnessing this boy’s clear affection for his mum and he was of course rewarded with two brownies to take home .
We moved aside to let school dinners commence, but it was a successful morning when views were aired ,concerns were shared and diets were broken .
For Joshua today marked the end of six weeks off on summer holidays and it was time to return to school today. For him it meant an early start – to be dressed by 8am has been unheard of in the school holidays. He did not object too much, even though he tried to snuggle back to sleep after breakfast. He looked smart in his school uniform and hopefully that reminded Joshua where he was heading, as well as my verbal prompts since last weekend.
Joshua has not changed classes or teacher so I like to think that it felt familiar returning for a new school year. I liked to think that a return to school meant getting reacquainted with his classmates and the staff that he is so fond of. But I fear that instead he may have played the sulky teenager.
Even though I have not been with him throughout the school holidays, I really missed him today and was eager to see his smiling face on my return from work. I was keen to read all about his day in his diary, to feel back in touch with the events of his day.
I have high hopes for Joshua’s new school year – for the fun that he will have and hopefully the new skills he will acquire. Bring it on!
Joshua is making the most of the last couple of days of his school holidays and he spent today with Yorkshire grandma. Judging by his giddiness when he got back, I can tell that they had fun. He was shouting out to tell me about his day . He repeated that he had been in the ‘beach’ and that he had enjoyed some ‘cake’ , which were both exciting highlights. He kept calling Yorkshire grandma and me both monkeys and he was even mentioned ‘Santa’ which seems a little premature.
I love to hear Joshua’s voice , except perhaps in the early hours of the morning! He seemed happy to share his joy and sense of fun and it felt as though he was trying to tell me about his day.
Now he is nagging me for his next favourite thing – ‘bath’. Once he has luxuriated in bubbles he will have enjoyed some real pleasures – bath, beach and cake- what more could a boy need? Such simple pleasures make my lad happy .
When we were out shopping in the rain today, we sheltered in the dry for refreshments. We sat in armchairs next to the door and he was like the welcoming committee for the cafe. He smiled at everyone who entered so he was pleased with our position. He reached out for selected customers and insisted on a greeting and he was always rewarded with a positive response. One older lady must have particularly caught his eye as not only did he reach for her but he would not let go, he pulled her towards him and gave her a kiss! She took it all in her stride, as though it happened all of the time.
As we were leaving the cafe she called Joshua and me over. She said that Joshua had made her day as ‘ it’s not everyday that I am kissed by a handsome young man’ . It was a friendly reaction as she made it feel like the most natural thing in the world and so I did not feel the need to apologise for his over- familiarity.
I like the fact that Joshua did brighten this lady’s damp morning, but he is not always as fortunate in his choices. But mostly he is a good judge of character so I wonder what he sees in people that equips him to choose who he is drawn to. It would be such an eye opener to see people , and the world for that matter, through Joshua’s eyes.
Yorkshire Grandma put Joshua to bed last night as we were both out and so he was all tucked up asleep when we got home late. He must have missed me as his voice woke me up at 5 this morning when he called out ‘Mummy!’. I went into his room to be greeted by a very lively boy who would not be persuaded to snuggle back down to sleep. I warned him that he was due back at school next week and so then he would be glad of a lie in and so he should grab his chances while he could. But , as ever, he ignored my sensible advice and knelt up in bed to look at books.
It was later when I came to get him dressed that Joshua suddenly became very weary and tried to hide under his duvet from me. So I feel that he was really just playing a game with me and he enjoyed being contrary. We often play a game on school days in that once he is dressed in uniform, he will climb into bed next to his dad and pretend to be asleep. I come back into the bedroom and pretend to be cross with my husband for allowing Joshua to go back to sleep. This really tickles Joshua and he giggles away from under the covers waiting for me to uncover him and chivvy him along.
I love Joshua’s sense of fun, even if his timing can be off. His smiling face makes it very difficult to even pretend to be mad with him and I am convinced that he knows precisely what he is doing.
I am just back from taking Joshua to the hairdressers for his smart back to school trim. In the past these have been nightmare occasions when I have needed strong arms to restrain him and ear plaugs against the noise. But this latest visit was very calm. I could not say that Joshua enjoyed the experience yet as he held a very serious expression on his face throughout but he did not thrash about in his gown or complain at the top of his voice. He had his eyes shut much of the time but he did not attempt to bite his finger, which is something that he does when he is very distressed. He only uttered a single ‘no,no,no!’ in protest but he seemed to accept his fate.
At one time, such a passive reaction could never even have been dreamed of and for that development , I am truly grateful. I am not sure if it is because he now accepts its inevitability, if he secretly enjoys admiring the smart results in the mirror, if he enjoys all the feamle attention or if we are all better prepared for the outbursts, but today was a much simpler and more relaxing experience than I was dreading.
I hope that our experience can bring hope to the parents who are still struggling with angry toddlers who are defying the scissors and are getting thrown out of barber shops, as we once did. My advice is to persevere and to seek out an understanding hairdresser who can accommodate your child’s idiosyncracies, without making either the child or parent feel uncomfortable. My son left the salon with gel in his hair and a smile on his face and he will adore the attention that his shorter hair will no doubt now attract. All is now well until his thick unruly hair grows back, but until then I am happy to enjoy this sense of real achievement and to offer hope.
After being thrilled to join in with the ‘party’ on Monday night, Joshua refused to join in with yesterday’s planned activity. Five of us went to a large agricultural show where there were stalls, livestock, displays as well as local food to enjoy. But it was not Joshua’s idea of a fun day out at all and he objected in a passive but deliberate way. My husband pushed Joshua in his wheelchair across the soft fields, frequently getting stuck in ruts, but Joshua did not appreciate his effort. Instead, he lay his head in his lap, refusing to look at the sights that he was presented with, and he went to sleep in protest.
I thought that he would be woken by the brass band music but he did not even rear his head! He was unimpressed by the sheep dog trials but he did sit up briefly to share my cheese and onion pasty. I then encouraged him to walk for a while, which he tolerated but he was soon reaching back for his muddy wheelchair. Joshua was unimpressed by the fell runners taking on the crag above us and was not even interested in the horses racing passed us around the track. In fact the biggest smile we saw from Joshua all day was when we took him back home, he seemed relieved that his countryside ordeal was over.
Unfortunately for Joshua, he did not have any choice yesterday, he had to come along to his parents’choice of entertainment, whereas other 15 year olds could have chosen to stay at home or to spend the day with friends. Sadly, he does not have that option, but luckily he usually approves of our activity choices. He was able to show us his disapproval, by opting out, but despite it , the show went on and he used the day to catch up on some sleep.