Penultimate Prom

Tonight is the 6th form prom at Joshua’s school and so it is a day when a real fuss is made of the 6th formers, particularly those who are leaving the school this year. The whole of the 6th form are invited, not just the leavers, to make it a bigger party. This year is a bit different, this year it will be held in the school itself, rather than a hotel like previous years. Sixth form have been preparing for this for weeks : dancing practice and making decorations for the hall. Yesterday Joshua came home with a list of things he is to bring today ready for his pamper : toiletries, slippers and Pjs so that he can chill while everyone is getting ready, getting their hair done. My main worry with that plan for Joshua as he has been this week, is that once he is in his slippers and pyjamas, they will never get him dressed into his suit again, he will just want to curl up and snooze somewhere!

The sixth-formers stay on after the school day, after parading around the school this afternoon to be admired by the rest of the school in their finery. Then parents are invited to attend from 5 pm onwards to join in the fun. The whole event will draw to a close at 8 pm when we will take our tired 6th formers home again. I really hope that Joshua lasts until the end of the party and that he finds the excitement of the other students infectious and he joins in. Last year he got over heated and so he was not on the best form when we arrived, but he perked up after some Magic Calpol and some fresh air, and soon he was on the dance floor and surprisingly, we were amongst the last to leave last year.

I know that some of the more able, aware pupils are very excited about their Prom night and they have taken an active role in suit shopping and are counting down the days to their big party. It will be a highlight of the year for many and that is really special. But Joshua is oblivious to the build up and to him, it will probably be like a summer term school disco. I am looking forward to seeing those 19 year olds who will be leaving school in a week’s time as i know some of them pretty well as they were in the same seniors class as Joshua. I wish them all well for the future, whatever it brings.

However, their leaving school, makes Joshua in the final class of his school career from September onwards, which is a sobering thought. This will be Joshua this time next year, saying goodbye to all that he knows and loves and stepping out into the mysterious world of daycare. It is a sharp reminder that we must begin to look around the alternative daycare provisions that are available in the local area and start to plan his future, as it will be here sooner than I realise. So tonight could be an emotional event.

Prom Night

After months of preparation and planning, Joshua’s 6th Form Prom  has arrived and their school day is dominated by getting ready for the big event : a hairdresser is invited in to style the pupils’ hair, everyone is showered ready for the evening and there is a parade around the rest of the school, to show off their finery as students wear their suits and posh frocks. The evening was all set and the pupils and staff left school in a coach to go to the Hotel in Town at 5pm and parents were invited from 7pm onwards.

My husband and I were on our way, when I had a call on my mobile to see how far away we were, as Joshua was pale and was refusing to remove his suit jacket and at that stage we were still about 15 minutes away, and the staff sounded concerned about him. As we pulled into the hotel car park, we were greeted by an ambulance and police car, so I leapt out while my husband found a parking space. A teaching assistant recognised my look of panic, as I scanned the scene, and gave me a thumbs up to reassure me that all was well. It is incredible how quickly your imagination can suggest scenarios to you when presented with such a  scene, putting two and two together and getting six.

I rushed to the function room, to see Joshua in his wheelchair, in his 3-piece suit, doubled over with his head on his knees. He sat up when he saw it was me, but he was indeed pale, was very hot and was trembling. I removed his jacket and waistcoat immediately , so got no photographs in his finery, and stood him up, walking him outside to some fresh air as he seemed to be over-heating. He continued to tremble outside in the marina and so we moved into the quieter, cooler bar area where he snuggled me on the settee.. My husband bought him an orange juice to try to cool him down but he was very reluctant to drink. He then set off in search of some paracetamol to try to bring his temperature down. Two TAs sat with us in the bar  and several staff members checked on his well-being, while we waited for my husband to return with paracetamol. When he arrived, Joshua took his medicine well and we waited for a few minutes for it to work its magic.

We decided to re-join the party, as we were missing the fun, and so we wheeled him back into the function room and sat at the side of the festivities, where there was much excitement to watch. After a while for the paracetamol to take effect, I stood Joshua up again  and we stumbled onto the dance floor where staff and students danced around him and he stood still looking around. Gradually he started to feel better and so he began to bend his knees and dance on the spot. Within around half an hour, he began to move around the dance floor proffering  high-5s, waving and pointing at all the familiar faces in the room and he began to enjoy himself and we had Joshua back! We had a go in the Photo Booth, though were not very successful as Joshua will not keep hats on his head and so most of the 4 images involve me placing a hat on his head or him removing it, there was no posing!

The party ended at 9pm, when Joshua was just getting into his stride. He was rarely off the dancefloor and he was drawn to many of the pretty big sisters who had brought their siblings to the Prom. Much to my surprise, I only shed a tear once – well we missed the leavers  awards and speeches so that may be the real reason ,why – when one of the students sang a solo, and his intense performance really moved me. Joshua’s first Prom did not start quite as I had envisaged, but the second hour that we were there, he thoroughly enjoyed, so we will all know what to expect next year and we will learn from last night’s experience.

Thank you School for offering the young people in your care, an opportunity to have a mainstream Prom Experience. I realise how much hard work and extra hours go into organising and running such an event, and despite some unexpected blips, it went really well and the students, and parents, thoroughly enjoyed themselves.