Bubbling to the surface.

Standard

D has been through an awful lot in the last couple of years.      He has always carried his emotions close to the surface, but he also runs very deep.      He tends to think about things in a rather unique manner that can be fascinating to watch.    It can also be his undoing because he assumes everyone else thinks the came way that he does.

Saturday night he was quite volatile at bedtime, but there is nothing new with that – bedtime seems to be the part of the day when he lets everything out that hasn’t been processed during the day.      He eventually settled down, and another day was completed.    Or so we thought.

A short while later, M come through and tells us he thinks D is crying.       Hubby went to see, and a few minutes later returns with D, tears streaming down his face, and sobbing so hard that his breathing sounded difficult.     He got into bed with me, and just cried in me arms.     All he kept saying was that he didn’t know why he felt so sad, but he did, and he wanted to cry.        I am a great believer in the power of tears.     I do not believe they are a sign of weakness, but they can be a great cleanser for our emotional state.      When you’re crying and letting it flow, afterwards it can be like the emotional fog has cleared and it can be easier to move on.     Hubby has always thought me mad for enjoying the aftermarth of a good cry, but it works for me!     I explained this D, in the hopes he would not see the need to cry as a negative.   He protested that some of his peers have said boys shouldnt cry – we have never given the boys the belief in that sort of sexual stereotyping, and I actually find in really sad that kids are repeating that sort of garbage.     We cry for a reason.     Eventually he his breathing calmed and the tears became fewer.           He was a bundle of nervousness, as if he had been given a really hard fright.      Hubby decided to go to D’s bed and leave him with me, as he needed reassurance, and who does everything will be ok cuddles better than your Mum?!           Once Hubby had gone, I had to make the room safe.    D didn’t want the door left open in case anyone came in.     The curtain had a slight gap in it, so I had to adjust that.    There was a light.   Upon investigation, it was the standby light from a tablet.       Every bit of the room had to be checked to make sure it was safe.      He then wanted cuddles, and he held me so tight, I thought my breathing would become difficult!    The conversation started, but nothing to do with what had been frightening him, oh no, that would have been too much of a normal conversation for him, instead he asked about what letters mean in maths!        Yes, you read that correctly.     In the middle of the night when all normal 8 years olds are tucked up dreaming about football and the likes, he is asking about algebra.       Only D!        The once he was happy he understood my basic explanation – I am the one person in the world who actually loved algebra at school, but even my brain was having problems with it at midnight, we moved onto a new topic.      By moved on, I mean leapt at such a tangent there was no connection at all.      The question came, “What will happen to the human race when the sun explodes?”       Remember this is gone midnight, and my brain really wasnt awake, so I turned it on him, and asked what he thought.       His logical reasoning said that the human race would be on other planets by then, after all they are soon off to Mars, and they had found the galaxy similar to ours – I think I need to think before I share news items with him in future!       I had to agree with him that this was the most likely outcome, but that with advancements in science, there may have been a way developed that would stop or at least delay the demise of the sun.   This idea seemed to excite him, and we explored this idea for a while.         Then he moved at just  a slight tangent and told me he wouldn’t be studying sciences at university.     I asked what he thought he would do, and he very matter of factly tells me he will be studying Film and Media.      I am glad he has it all planned out!

Eventually, at gone one am, he finally fell asleep, laying on my arm.   With his plaster cast, once he has a comfortable position, there is no moving him, and so that is how we stayed all night.

He didn’t talk about what was really bothering him.       He hasn’t talked about it since, and while we have gently pushed for him to open up, we don’t want to push too hard for fear of either making the problems seem bigger than they are, or for him to bury them so deep that by the time they hit the surface again they have really festered.

Hubby and I have of course discussed what we believe is going on in his head.

Firstly is of course the return to school.    It is difficult every year getting back into a new routine and being in a different place with different people.       This will hopefully settle pretty quickly as he gets used to all that is happening with him.

His broken arm can’t be easy on him.     He might be a large boy but he isn’t inactive, and spends hours running about or on the trampoline.   To suddenly have to slow down, must be hard on him.     When his orthopedic surgeon he was seeing about his knees took a look at his arm x-ray and said it was a strange break, it must have got Mr Worry thinking.

His knees!   From the initial operation, to have the pins put in to their removal, D has been really understanding to what he has had to do.     He has been brilliant, but it must have taken its toll on him.   When he went back to the hospital, there was always the possibility that he may have been told he needed another operation, and this thought must have played on his mind, and then the relief of it not happening must have been huge.

Bullying is a major part of D’s life.   He is the fat autistic kid, so such an easy target.     The school didn’t deal with the problem too well in his first year, and he learned that he should take responsibility for being bullied – I know that mind-set it wrong!       Over the holidays, he fell out with a couple of M’s counterparts, as they threatened him, and smeared mud over him.       Then on Saturday he was subjected to some online bullying when a child he knows told him he would kill him in Minecraft and the real world.     It was probably a something and nothing remark, but to D it was said so it was meant – I have spoken to the child, who denies saying it, but it was heard.

To have heard the conversation we had with the psychologist when we went about his anger management, must have been really horrible for him.     We try to stay positive in all that we do and say around the boys, so to have heard the two people who are meant to care for him about all else talking to a stranger about his negative behaviour, I can only imagine how horrible this must be.

All these things added together, have been going around in his head, and seemed to burst to the surface on Saturday night.

I think there is a lesson to us all in this, and that is to stop bottling things up – I know I am so good at not saying things and then thinking about them too hard, and to let things out when they irk us rather than let them keep growing until they are a major problem.       We as a family have to work hard to make sure D feels he can talk about things that matter – after all, it’s not that he doesn’t talk, most days there is no shutting him up, but we have to allow him to let his emotions grow.

Week one done!

Standard

Having not really wanting to return to school after the summer break, both boys seemed to settle back into routine really quickly.     I know they love the routine of the school day, even if they don’t particularly enjoy the work they have to do.

D was lucky that although he lost the teacher he was devoted to, the class were moving forward as a unit to their new teacher, so at least he had people around him that he knew, and who knew him!     M was with people he knew too,  one of them being one of the two girls he has known since birth and the closest thing to friends he has.   He has job share teachers, which while I think it can be difficult for him, they have a good reputation for how they work together, and M knows them both, having spent time with them towards the end of the previous school year.    Everything seemed to be going well.    It was all very positive.

Then things in the wider school community started to happen.      It is no secret, that the school my boys attend is bursting at the seams, with the role constantly increasing with the continual building of new houses in our town.     A new school has just started being built, but is still about a year and a half away, so things are going to get a lot worse before they start to get better.

On Thursday a letter came home to say the classes were going to have to be reassessed because of additional pupils – just a week in and there was so little room for additional pupils.   It would be affecting a few of the classes, including both of my boys.        D was instantly in tears about the thought of loosing his best friend – while they don’t tend to be sat together in class, he is the stabilising factor D relies on – in fact, I know days his friend has been off from school, because of the foul mood he will come home in!     We tried to explain that nothing was at this point decided, and I am sure the teachers understood the importance of the bond the two of them have.        He was really upset.      M on the other hand, had his usual attitude, of if I ignore it, it’s not happening and I don’t have to think about it!     If it works for him, there is not point him stressing over something he has no control.       My thought was that my two additional needs boys, along with other kids that have problems with change, would be looked upon with a little more sympathy than others – I hoped so any way.

As you can probably imagine, the exchanges of Facebook about this were rife.       A lot of parents were furious that this was happening, and so close to the beginning of term.     There were many conversations going on about the negativity these changes were having on all of our children.       While I agree that is the case, I also think that no real work has yet been done in the school year, so it wont create too many problems.     The argument for meetings with the school were being put forward, while other people defended the school and what it is doing.       It was going around in circles and people were getting  more and more irate – including my Hubby!    Understandably those who were angry could not see why anyone was defending the school, and those who could not see the problem, were getting annoyed that it was frustrating anyone.      I took the attitude, that I wasn’t happy, but there was no point getting too upset until we knew what was going to be happening.

The next day, letters went out to the parents of the children that were being directly affected, and were moving to other classes.     I actually think all the children in the years are affected by this, and not just those having to get used to a new class.        Having not been up to the school that afternoon because of D’s hospital appointment, I had to rely on other Mums to fill me in.      It seems M’s class is staying pretty much as it is, with just a few changes in the P5 side of the composite, so not with his direct peers.     D will be staying with his best friend – thank the gods, but his class will become a P4/5 composite.     He is devastated at loosing one of his friends to the other class, and actually asked why it was him and not another child that he doesn’t get on with!!       On reflection, I actually think this is a good thing for D, not loosing friends during the working day – he’ll still see them at break, but going into a composite class with older kids.    D is a clever boy, but he is also very clever at being invisible, but if there are kids about doing maths at a level he is capable of – he often wants to do M’s maths homework, and reading more complicated books, then it might help him to push himself to what he should be capable of.

There is still plenty of unhappy parents though.    Most are trying to lay blame at the doors of various people.     I think there are a combination of factors that have led to the situation we are in.

This is just my personal opinion on the situation as I see it, I have no direct evidence to back up anything I am saying, other than what I have observed of my local town.

There is no way the teachers can be held responsible for anything.     They are doing an amazing job under really hard circumstances.     I am sure none of them want to be teaching classes of 33+ children, after all, they can only spread themselves so far and the more children they have the thinner that has to be.     I actually feel sorry for D’s teacher, have done her lesson planning for a straight P4 class, suddenly finds herself with a composite class to teach.      They must be extremely frustrated by the lack of compassion shown to them for doing a brilliant job under such undesirable circumstances.

The head is of course getting a lot of flack.     She is after all the face of education for our children, the front line.       She is however restrained by budgetary restrictions.    I am sure she would love to be able to throw resources at each and every child, but she has to balance the spreadsheet – the previous head would always throw the budget – metaphorically, at you whenever you had a meeting with her, and it actually became a joke between me and Hubby, as to how quickly she would mention it as a reason my children couldn’t be given the assistance they required.     While I understand the anger being shown toward the head, I am not sure that this is the right place for it.

The council is of course a huge focus of anger.       The council is the education department, so they are the Heads chain of command.      They had not formulated a contingency plan for circumstances such as those we are facing at the moment.    I am sure we are not the first town to have had a problem with school over crowding.         There was a consultation a while back about rezoning schools, and this would have relieved the pressure short-term, but nothing came of it.      The council did give planning permission to developers to build hundreds of new houses.       A new school was on the plans, and in fact many people bought their houses on the understanding this would be built imminently.      Then the council said we didn’t need a new school, and the money ear marked for it went to build a school at the other end of the county.       Then the slanging match started between developers and council about who was to blame for the school not having been built.     These are arguments that seem to go around in circles with both sides looking as bad as each other.

The Scottish government have to be partly responsible.   Now that is a broad statement!     They promised us class sizes of no more than 22 after all.     The constant freeze on taxes might look good in election manifestos, but it means there is less and less money available to be spent on the things that really matter, including education.        You could take this another step further and say it is the fault of the Westminster government because of their total lack of care and understanding of the average person, and in fact anyone not attending private school.

So, you see, there are so many people to blame.      Or, do we really need to apportion blame.     The situation is as it is.     The new school is being built – at last, so in  just over a year many children will be relocated to there.   It does mean M will only get half a school year of primary education not in a sardine can, but hopefully it will be enough to equip him for life in secondary education.         I am not saying people should not be being held accountable, and lessons must be learned so other children do not suffer in education the way those in our town have.     Our children are not thriving as well as they could if they had a better teacher/pupil ratio.     That is simple mathematics.       The teachers are under ridiculous pressure which can’t be good for their health, and the stress has to burst eventually, which will have further consequences for the children.         As parents we have to continue to lobby those that make the decisions for our children as a group, but we also have to remember that being a  parent has to be a selfish act as we put the needs of our own above the needs of the many.        D, I believe has the potential to be in a better place in the newly mixed class.   I hope so anyway.      M on the other hand could be in a class of 22 or 44, and without the additional needs hub being opened, his level of care and understanding isn’t changing, but that’s another post!

Knees recovered.

Standard

Yesterday, D had an appointment at the hospital.    It was the check up on his knees.     It is now 18 months since the operation to have them pinned, and just 6 months since the pins were removed.    It seems to have gone in a flash this time, and I have nothing but respect and pride for the way he has got through all this.

For anyone who doesn’t know the problems he has had with his joints, he has hypermobility, which means his joints are basically overly bendy.    His knees therefore started to develop at an odd angle – in the days before political correctness, he would have been called bandy, or as my Mum would say, he couldn’t stop a pig in a passage!       He was referred to the orthopedic department at the kids hospital, and they decided that pinning them would help them to grow straighter.      When they were put in, we were told that because of his age, they could only be in for two years, and then ones of a different size would have to be used.      The operation happened, and D was in a lot of pain.   The physiotherapists were getting frustrated with him, as he refused to move because it just hurt too much.     He cried a lot the first couple of days after the op.     He then woke up on the third day and decided he wanted to go home, and the only way that was going to happen was to get out of his bed and show them he was mobile.      That day, he shuffled about on a mini zimmer frame, and although the tears were rolling down his face, his stubbornness – I call it bloody minded, kept him going.    The next day he was moved onto crutches, and again, he just took off.    So he managed to be home within five days of the operation.      I was amazed at how is positive attitude had spurred him to achieve what he originally made up his mind he couldn’t do.       He had regular check ups, and has spent hours stood having x-rays of his legs.     It is always interesting to see the x-rays as even to a untrainned eye like mine, the difference in the angle of his legs was noticeable.    At the annual review, his surgeon said he believed there was no more for the pins to do, and he thought it was time to remove them.    While this was brilliant news, it also sent D into total panic.        It was a much easier op, and he was home the same day, with just one more day off from school.

When we were talking to D about this check-up, his panic mode was in full view, believing that they would want to operate again to put them back in.     We tried to reassure him that there was no evidence that this would happen, but when he gets a bee in his bonnet it is hard to pacify him, so we had to agree it was a possibility, however unlikely.

He had the day off school, simply because of not knowing how long we would be left hanging about – some appointments we have been in and out, while others have been hours.     He was very quiet and looking fairly nervous, but we did our best to make him calm.     Of course the first thing the surgeon says to him as way of greeting, was to ask about his broken arm!        Having learned from previous appointments, D was dressed in shorts, making it much easier for his legs to be looked at – nothing more embarrassing for D than to have to strip off.       His x-rays were reviewed from the first ones pre-op, and the straightening as he has grown is obvious.     So much so, that we are told as far as they are concerned, the job has been successful and he would be signed off.      It was added that there are no guarantees that his legs will continue to grow straight, and should it become apparent they are starting to bend at the wrong angle, the GP just needs to refer him back, and they will pop new pins in – not really what D wanted to hear, but they have to be honest, with what might possibly happen.     He then said he may as well take a look at the x-rays of D’s arm.     When he called them up his monitor, his first reaction was, that is was an odd break!     He commented that the position of it was what made it an awkward fracture.     By this time, D was wanting to go.   We thanked him for all he had done for D, and closed the door on this little chapter of D’s life.

D remained quiet afterwards.     We told him how proud we were of how he had coped with all he had been put through this past 18 months, and how well he had done with all that had been asked of him.      He just needed to process the whole thing, so withdrew a little into his own little world for a while.

Now we just have to hope that his knees prefer growing at the new angle they have, as the thought of telling D he would have to have them re-pinned doesn’t bare thinking about!

We are truly grateful to the wonderful team that looked after him during his hospital stays, and his follow-up appointments.       The staff at the Royal Aberdeen children’s Hospital are amazing.   Thank you.