Odd Socks

Joshua has a lot of odd socks, our washing machine often hides one of the matching set, so he has a bag full of lonely socks waiting for their partners to turn up. So that really came in handy yesterday as he was invited to go to school wearing odd socks. The reason was to mark Anti Bullying Week by celebrating difference in each other; being different is something to celebrate and share, rather than being something to hide and to be potentially bullied about. So I dressed Joshua in one stripey and one plain sock – a gesture that he will have been oblivious about but it meant that we took part and made a stand.

At our Special School I am not aware of a culture of bullying , as everyone there is inevitably different from everyone else and so it will be a different environment to that found at mainstream school, where there is a much greater  need to ‘fit in’. Nonetheless, it is a great principle to encourage for life beyond school too, where those with special needs may well encounter some prejudice or bullying as they will be in a less protected environment. I am relieved to say that I was never bullied at school but I know with social media now, it has become more intense for many young people.

Along with the odd socks day, school are encouraging and recognising random, small acts of kindness across the school. I strongly believe that there needs to be more kindness in the world and I like to think that I am a kind person, who encourages Joshua to be the same, as far as he is able.  I try to empathise with how others might be feeling and like to surprise them with unexpected treats, such as baking, flowers or silly small gifts. Joshua does not have the capacity to make these gestures but he can, and does, offer his hugs and smiles in an effort to cheer someone up and they often can leave someone feeling better than they did. Kindness does not need to be big gestures, just something small is enough to show someone that you were thinking of them, without an occasion like a birthday. In fact I find, it is often the random timing that intensifies the gesture and makes it feel so much more special.

So I fully support school for encouraging acts of kindness and for celebrating difference in each other too, both are great principles to teach our children and will stand them in good stead for the future.

Time Marches On

I have booked today off work as I have a couple of big things to do : Firstly it is the first time that I will meet Joshua’s teacher for a proper discussion about him, his behaviour and his progress as there is an Open Morning at school. I have made a list of my questions that have occurred to me over the last few weeks about his last year at school.We are only allocated a 15 minute slot and I am the first of her class parents, so I must try not to talk too much so that she overruns all morning, but that might be quite a challenge as Joshua is one of my favourite topics to talk about and I like to know all about the times when I am apart from him.

I specifically asked for the first appointment of the day, so that I can then drive over to meet my sister as we are going to see the solicitor this afternoon to sign off Mum’s estate paperwork. It feels as though I have not seen my sister for forever,so much so that I had to check the calendar and it has been almost a month, but it felt much longer. So we have long overdue hugs and face to face catch ups, as they are always better than telephone calls. But after that famine, it is a feast as I will see her again at the weekend for my niece’s birthday party, so that is a bonus. My mobile phone reminded me of her birthday party last year yesterday, as it sent me photos of our smiling mum in my sister’s conservatory. So it will feel strange that she is not there this weekend as she always made the effort to get together for her grandchildren’s birthdays. I imagine that these family parties, with her empty seat, will get easier as time passes, but for now , each one is a milestone and we have Christmas to face yet, when our festive spirit will be seriously challenged.

When a loved one dies, or another traumatic event such as days spent in a special care baby unit, when you emerge out of the other side, it always feels so strange that the rest of the world is carrying on regardless, they have not been impacted by the same blow as you and their life seems to be continuing on normally. That is a shocking revelation at first: But then you realise , especially if you spend a lot of time around hospitals, that families are experiencing bad health news and loss every day of the week and that you are not the only one at all who has felt that isolation at all. In fact it can be a bonding experience, if people share their experiences of grief or there are support groups for families who’s lives have been devastated by a particular diagnosis , prognosis or condition and strength and support can be found there.

But for now, we just do the best that we can everyday ; I try to be kind to people, as we really have no idea of the  worries and concerns that they are facing, and so a smile ,kind word or sweet treat might be just the thing to improve their day and distract them, if only momentarily.

Killing with Kindness

Yesterday was National Kindness Day and that is something that I think about a lot, as I try to be kind to others when I can . Someone this week told me that I was ‘amazing’ and ‘kind’, when I had left some homemade shortbread on her doorstep as she is struggling at the moment, so it was my way to try to make her smile. While I told her that I was definitely not amazing, as I feel very uncomfortable being described that way, I told her that I would accept her ‘kind’ compliment. My general approach is to try to treat people as I would hope to be treated myself, which tends to keep me on the straight and narrow. I also adopt the phrase that ‘If I have nothing kind to say, then say nothing at all’, which can often – but not always – keep me out of trouble too!

Joshua tends to attract kind people too: throughout his life, he has had a series of girls who have looked out for him and have taken care of him. Even pre-school, Joshua had a special little girl who would love to stroke his chubby cheeks and take care of him at  Toddler Group. We have stayed in touch with her, as her Mum is one of my best friends, and even now they are both 17, Joshua has a soft spot for her,  we called in on her last sunday while she was working, to say hello. Then at mainstream primary school, Joshua had a very petite girl who was kind and helpful with him, but sadly when he moved to Special School, we lost touch with her.

Joshua has found however another kind peer at his current school who has often been in his class, she looks out for him and has been helpful in the past when he has seizures, helping the staff manage the situation in class. Joshuas face lights up when he sees her, so clearly he recognises , and responds to, kindness in others too. Unfortunately, Joshua does not really have the capacity to demonstate kindness, though he can give lovely bear hugs when they are needed.

There is a phrase that resonates with me, that says ” In a world where you can be anything, be kind”. It is not always possible, but it is certainly a good motto to try to follow. I would be pleased to think that, when I am long gone, that I am remembered as being a kind person, that hopefully extends beyond simply feeding people homemade baking, although that is a key way in which I show people that I care.