Tuesday, 19 August 2014

The One With The Theories

I saw my friend Titfer Tat yesterday. She's been a teaching assistant for a year or so now, so I asked her about the boys lack of skills with holding a pen. I put forward the theory that he hasn't yet decided if he's left of right handed. TT said lots of children his age still hadn't decided that, and not to worry, but the thing to do was to offer him a rolled up piece of paper. Whichever hand he took it with would be his dominant side.

When she and her girls left I tried the theory out.

The boy took the paper with both hands. 

That's my boy! 

This complete disregard of, supposedly tried and tested, theories relating to raising children reminded me of another time when the boys natural, 'I'll bugger that up', gene came to the fore.

Lemon Cake Lady had started counting down from 5 to get Lemon Cake Boy to do as he was told. She had read the theory that if you counted to 10 a defiant child would carry on counting, but if you counted down from 5 to zero, to give the child chance to comply with your wishes, then they have nowhere to go. If you reach zero and they still haven't done as they were asked, then you discipline them with the naughty step, taking a toy away or whatever your particular method is. The theory is that eventually they will do as they are being told before you get to that point. 

Whoever came up with this hadn't figured on the boy!

I tried it out when the boy was playing me up about something.

5...... nothing

4..... come on darling

3.....  still nothing

2..... I'm waiting

1..... still not doing as he was told

0...... that's it! 

Did he suddenly comply for fear of losing out on TV time or similar?

No of course he didn't.

He stood in front of me, raised his arms in the air and shouted,

"Blast off!"

Then he took off like a rocket around the room.

You try not laughing.........

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The One with The Transition Meeting

A week or so ago the boy had the second of his trial mornings at his new school, this time with a packed lunch (the week before it was a proper school dinner - and by proper I mean pizza, chips and spaghetti hoops - an eclectic mix).  He loved it and has talked of little else but, 'When can I go to my new school?' and 'When can I go back and see my new teacher?' 

He's slightly in love with his new teacher Mrs R. In fact we are now using her as a disciplining tool, 'Mrs R will be disappointed if you do that' and so on.  It's working, but I don't want to play that card too much, especially before he has even officially got there.
When I picked him up he wanted to say goodbye to Mrs R, which involved actually throwing his arms around her and giving her a massive smacker on the lips. She was slightly taken aback but genuinely touched, although I did say it was probably best not to do that everyday at home time.
That same week we had our second speech and language appointment. The last time we went in April the boy 'baffled' the SLT with his inconsistency. 
Well have you ever met a consistent 4-year-old boy? 
By their very nature 4 year old boys are unpredictable and as good as gold one minute then a ball of incoherent, incomprehensible rage about the slightest thing the next.  Add to this what Lemon Cake Lady has so rightly defined as the 'buggering about gene' from my side of the family, and you can have all the health care experience and qualifications in the world, but nothing can prepare you for the boy.

This time it became apparent that he quite frankly could not be arsed. To be fair if you were taken into a strange room, with a strange woman, then shown a load of pictures and had questions fired at you about them, would you be arsed and inconsistent? 

I think you might.

He wriggled, he squirmed, he changed the subject. He complained he was too hot, he was tired, he was bored, in fact he did everything he could to get out of answering the questions about the pictures in front of him. 

A distraction technique quite obviously, but why? 

Because he didn't know the answers? Because he didn't understand the questions? Or because he couldn't be arsed and he's a 4 year old boy with a wicked sense of humour and a very defiant, stubborn streak when it comes to authority figures?

Hmmmmm... time will tell....

To top the week off  we had a transition meeting at the new school with Mrs R, the schools SENCO, his key worker from preschool and their SENCO. The heath care worker was supposed to come too but she cried off sick, which to be fair I wasn't all that bothered about as she hasn't seen him since March!

A lot has changed with the boy since March!

I told them what had happened at the SLT appointment and how the boy wasn't interested in flat, 2 dimensional pictures, but had come alive with chat when a toy farm came out. We talked about his transition from pre-school to primary school and the support he'll need. Mrs R is lovely and has the air of a lady who isn't phased by any of this and has seen it all before.

'He'll be fine' she said and I'm inclined to believe her. He has some one to one support to start with and we'll assess how it's going as the reception year goes on.

Tonight I have my last parents evening at preschool before the boy leaves in 3 weeks time. I've always felt a bit odd about parents evenings for children so young. It's like the 'Graduation Ceremonies' they have, all a bit made up! 

So maybe that's how I feel about this whole 'your son is a bit different and doesn't tick all our boxes' scenario?  While the situation itself is real, the boxes the various professionals have to tick are 'all a bit made up'. 

As parents we are constantly being told not to compare our children with their peers and that kids all develop at different rates, but when you get a child who genuinely does do that, the charts, reports and check lists come out in full force.

I can't tell you how many tears I've shed over this whole thing since last October and I'm sure they'll be some more to come, but I feel heartened by his progress everyday and by the positive attitude of Mrs R. He's finally starting to ask 'Why?" questions and be a bit interested in letters. OK, so he can't read or write his name, because he can't hold a pen properly, but that's because he never sits still to take the time to do it. We're working on it with paint and sticks in sand and developing his gross motor skills so they can work down to those fine ones (thank you to my dear friend and teaching assistant Titfer Tat for explaining all that to me).

I'm sure he's not the only child who'll start school in September as a 'clean slate', unable to read or write at present. In some ways that's a good thing. I frankly can't get the hang of phonics yet and I'm worried I'll give him the wrong sounds anyway so much better to let Mrs R do what Mrs R does best.

I just hope that when the boy does eventually learn to read and write he doesn't go and snog her face off ... because I just might.....