Mothers & Toddlers

Over 18 years ago, five pregnant mothers-to-be attended antenatal classes together and they became friends. The first baby of the group was born on Boxing Day 2000 and Joshua was the last to arrive in March 2001. We got together every week during our maternity leaves, first at each others ‘houses and as the babies became toddlers, we used to meet up at a local soft play area and at cafes. We went to baby Massage together. Most of us were working part time and most of us had Thursdays off and that used to be a day when we would meet up together.

Four of the five ‘babies’ started at the same nursery school ,then going  onto the same primary school and often the Mums would meet on Thursdays still, but for a coffee or lunch on a Thursday, timed around school pick up. It was a strong friendship group, which had a shared experience of a new addition to the family around the same time. We would see each other at the school gates in the mornings and again at pick up time and so we knew what was going on in each other’s lives.

When Joshua was 7 years old, we began the process to move him to a Special School and he left his childhood buddies behind as they continued in mainstream primary and then moved onto the local High School. I still see the Mums, but now much less frequently and Joshua rarely sees the other ‘babies’. Clearly Joshua has taken a different path, but last night was a great night, a reunion, as we were all three invited to an 18th birthday party in a local cafe:

As soon as we arrived, Joshua plonked himself down on a leather settee near the door. The other three ‘babies’ who were present joined him there and we re-created a photograph that we have of a row of babies on a settee. They are now all such good looking young adults and it is a great photograph to have. Joshua was sleepy or shy at first, as he sat on the settee, but he soon joined in. He loves long hair and at his party everyone kindly allowed him to mingle amongst the guests, stroking the ladies hair or even patting a few men on the head. He really enjoyed being out on a Saturday evening and once he got going, refused to even sit down, but wandered up and down the cafe waving and pointing at people. It was good to be amongst friends, where I did not feel awkward, where I felt that I needed to control him and insist on him sitting in a corner. It was such a stark contrast from the previous Saturday when we were in a hospital ward, that we all had great fun.

The timing of the party suited us well, we arrived after 5pm and we stayed for almost four hours – I had not expected him to last that long! It was early in the evening as the birthday girl was heading out with her peers to town for more drinking and dancing, as 18 years old do, with the taxi booked to bring her home at 1.30am! But what a nice idea that family and family friends could celebrate with her first, before she headed out into the night, a legal adult. On the brink of her A Levels in the summer and then a planning to study more at university, I wish her all the very best for the future and I thank her and her family for thinking to include us in the celebrations.

Back to School, back to books

Joshua returns to school today after being off for over two weeks. I do not know if he understands or not, or if he chooses to disbelieve me or if he knows exactly what is going on. when I reminded him that it was back in the ‘bus’ to school last night while he was having a bath, he shook his head vigorously either in denial or disbelief. Today pre-Christmas normality resumes : the taxi will come around 8.20, he will take a packed lunch, he will have a full day at school, creating havoc, and Yorkshire Grandma is coming back from her daughter’s house, where she has stayed over Christmas, to greet him at the end of the school day. He will have no more lie ins until 9.30 and then a morning in his den in his pyjamas, so this week might come as a shock to his system.

It is  a big week too as not only does he need to find the energy to return to school, but he also has his respite weekend at the end of the week. So he will go from spending 24/7 with his parents, to being away from us from Friday morning, until Monday evening. Possibly he cannot wait  for that, it is certainly not normal for a 17 year old to spend so much time at home with their parents over Christmas I am sure, but I have loved having all of that time together and I will miss him.

This year is not only Joshua’s 18th birthday, but of course, that of his peers – the babies that we spent the first years of our lives socialising with. I met and became friends with five mothers at ante natal class and the first of our group to deliver a baby, came on Boxing day, so she is 18 already. Another girl was 18 last weekend and she had a family meal and then went drinking with her friends. We have had an invitation to the third ‘baby’s’ 18th birthday party at the end of this month and we will be delighted to go and celebrate with her family. Again I am told that she will be going into our local city after the family celebration with her friends, so it will not be a late party. The two boys will be 18 exactly a fortnight before Joshua, next month, during the half term holidays and I have not heard yet how they will celebrate.

We have not yet decided how we will celebrate this anniversary with Joshua, but we too will probably plan a family party as well as something with friends. The fifth of March falls on a Tuesday this year and so he will be at school on his actual birthday, so I will send in party food so that sixth form can make a fuss of him, before we do something in the evening together. I would love to know how Joshua would like to celebrate, so that we could reflect that in our planned celebrations, but I suspect that as long as it involves food  – preferably Donald’s sadly -and people that he loves, he will be satisfied. It is more of a momentous ‘coming of age’ to us than to him and Joshua will not be desperate to go to the pub with us, to enjoy his first legal beer, as many of his peers do. He has tried his Dad’s beer before and has never been impressed, so he may be sticking with his beloved orange juice.

So let’s  get back to the normality of school days for another couple of months, before we begin to party again. I know how quickly Joshua’s birthday slides in after Christmas and New Year, and by then we will be into Spring and this is how the year slides away from under our feet.