Penultimate Prom part II

Joshua had already sent his 3 piece suit into school , ready for last night’s prom, but he was asked to send in toiletries, slippers, a towel and PJs yesterday as everyone in 6th form would be having a shower and hair-wash prior to the prom and a hairdresser would be coming in to coiff the students. I sent a note with his bag, that I would advise against changing him into his Pyjamas as that is  a clear signal to go to bed for him and I was already concerned about his likely reluctance to stay awake.

The sixth formers stayed on at school after home time to enjoy fun and games in the beautifully decorated hall, which had a ‘The Greatest Showman’ theme. It was held in school, rather than a hotel this year, but they still made it special and more than a school disco with the circus theme. Parents were invited after 5 pm to join the party. As I had gone to the wake of our next door neighbour of our holiday cottage, I was never going to be there until after 6 pm. Both my husband and I arrived at the same time at 6.30, to find Joshua stripped of his boots, jacket and waistcoat as he was too hot, cooling off in the foyer. He had had some small seizures and a sleep, and his ex-teacher was there with him , poised with his emergency medication, should he have needed it. He was pleased to see us both, but he clearly thought that we had come to take him home as he was reluctant to walk back to the noisy, hot hall with us, as he protested by throwing himself to the floor.

But we insisted and waited for him to get up and encouraged him to the dance floor and to the games and his peers and the 6th form staff who were all dressed up beautifully. Hairdressers had been in to style the students and the girls in particular, looked amazing with curls and flowers in their hair. He danced with me for a while, then we sought a cooler area so we went outside where there was a breeze and we encouraged him to have a drink. Joshua made a few bids for freedom but he also had some magical moments with staff and fellow pupils too: He spent time sitting watching the others on the dance floor, waving and he danced himself too;  music  and his favourite faces kept him going, when clearly he just wanted to sleep really. At just before 8 pm, he made his final bid for freedom, shuffling down the corridor on his bottom and so I gave in, it was the end really, so  we took him home, recognising that he really is not a party animal, not on a school night anyway! He went to bed as soon as he got home.

This is his second prom now, both on the hottest nights of the year it seems, so we have learned that while they may look smart, waistcoats are just too warm to wear on a hot night. We have some funny photographs from the photo booth, where he mainly looks bewildered , clearly thinking that the world has gone mad. He certainly enjoyed some of the party and it will be good practice for next July, when he will be one of the leavers , who’s special night it really is! These events do not happen by accident or luck, but staff put in a lot of hard work to make them  a success and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, so I would like to thank all of those involved in giving the students the Prom that they deserve and the opportunity to behave like mainstream teenagers. Thank you.

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Prom Night

Two years ago I felt really sad as I saw all the Prom photos on Facebook of Joshua’s peers from mainstream high school as they had finished their GCSEs and were moving onto A’levels at High school or college. It was really hard not to resent the fact that Joshua was not there, standing next to them in his suit looking all grown up and smart. It was a stark reminder that Joshua’s life has not turned out how we had hoped and dreamt for him, as though he was stuck in a time-warp while his ‘friends’ were moving on to exciting new times and experiences.

Well now, 2 years later, Joshua is going to his first school Prom on Thursday night. I took his new suit into school yesterday and there will be a hairdresser at school during the day to put gel in his hair! The main focus of the Prom will be the oldest students who will be leaving school to make their way in the world. Thankfully I have two of these ‘dummy’ Proms, before I will need to face the terrifying prospect of Joshua leaving the safe, familiar and comfortable school that has been his home since 2011. By 2020 I might be able to get through the night without bawling, but I doubt it very much. We fought hard to get Joshua into this school all those years ago, when he was just ten years old,  and I knew from my first visit that this was where he belonged.

So the ‘leavers’ will go to the hotel ,from school, in a limousine/party bus and the younger students will follow in a coach. They have two hours before us parents are invited at 7pm to join in the fun and then we take them home again at 9pm, it is still a school night after all. Joshua may well find a quiet corner for a nap during that time.A lot of work has gone into the Prom by school staff and for this opportunity, I am so grateful. It is a great example of his Special School doing something special to try to replicate, in a safe way, the mainstream experience.

I will of course report later in the week how it all goes and how both Joshua and I react to this special night.