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Department of Loose Ends - dorsetgirl
July 9th, 2010
08:22 am
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Department of Loose Ends
Youngest son has his taster day at his new secondary school today.

6:10; switch on iron, kettle, computer; iron school shirts (it's something useful to do while I wake up and gain the power of speech); log on my account; make two teas one coffee; put away iron and ironing board; check email and trains website - trains all running OK.

6:30: wake up THREE boys instead of two; distribute socks, underwear, freshly ironed shirts; check trains are still running, in particular that their train has set off on its inward journey.

6:45: explain to youngest son that Daddy always tries to be entertaining in the mornings (youngest doesn't normally get up until 7:30) and he gets in a bad mood when everyone's too busy to pay him lots of attention; make sure youngest and middle are set up for breakfast; sort out youngest's dinner money and train fare and get him to pack his bag; run upstairs to persuade oldest that having three large pieces of homework not ready for handing in today doesn't make him actually dead, just metaphorically. (He has ASD, he's doing his Duke of Edinburgh Award, his group leader told him yesterday that it was already too late to start his skill - it's not - and he started his skill, archery, last night, hence too much going on to think about homework.) Switch on eldest's laptop; OH announces he's going - he does like a bit of attention in the mornings; back to the kitchen to get eldest son's breakfast and take it up; get youngest to pack his bag.

7:00: try to get middle son to stop talking (he's excited about youngest going to school with him) for long enough to discuss arrangements for the end of the day; run upstairs and make sure eldest is getting up and doing the reading I think may defuse the teacher for one of his pieces of homework (battle tactics in WWI); chat to him about the battle for a few minutes to help him get it straight in his mind - yes, and to check he's actually done the reading. Battle of Cambrai, apparently, November 1917, first use of massed tanks in a battle - broke the Hindenburg line, whatever that was, so presumably that was considered a success. I never studied that period of history, because when I did 'O' Level it was going to be Education Acts and Factory Acts which I didn't fancy at all so I gave it up. I'd find them interesting now because of family history but there you go - at least history is a subject you can do all by yourself at home. Check the train is still running OK.

7:15: Suddenly realise I have to brush youngest's hair an hour earlier than usual - it's nearly long enough to need tying up again - and somehow it's twice as tangly as usual. Make him double check he's got his pencil case and dinner money; send him upstairs to get an emergency fiver (in case he has to catch the bus home) because he lost the one I gave him the other day and I have no more cash on me. Check the train has arrived (it sits here at our station for 23 minutes before going back up the line).

7:23: Running late now, middle son normally likes to go out at 7:20 on the dot; give middle son a hug, youngest has already started down the road, call him back for a hug - yes, just like Gene's mum in Coronation Day, don't think about that one too much; watch youngest and middle walk down the road until they disappear round the corner. Weirdest feeling ever, my littlest going off to catch the train without me.

7:25: Back indoors, hurry oldest son up; Friday of week two is his heaviest bag day and I certainly wouldn't want to walk a mile up a steep hill with it; try to give him some useful sentences for the various teachers who are going to be angry with him today; give him a hug and wave him off.

7:28: Back indoors; check the train is still labelled "on time". Stop.

Oh, what was that last bit? Stop? That's confused me. Normally at this time I'd be getting youngest up and starting the process of getting him to school, going out at 8:25 and arriving back just before 9. Dunno what to do now. Oh I know, I'll wash their gi's ready for grading on Sunday, and start planning the phone call I'm going to make to the council DoE coordinator about how unhelpful and inflexible oldest son's DoE leader is being. Check their train has left on time - it has - and keep a check on it running OK up the line. Check calendar - oh yes, find middle son's t-shirts for his four-day trip to Normandy next week; realise youngest has gone off without giving me his SATs results that he was given yesterday; discover there's a lunch today for Year 6 mums who are leaving the primary school this year.

Yes, I do know that I have it easy, because many people at this moment would be running around getting themselves ready for work, if they weren't already on their way, having dropped off kids at the child-minder's first. But I don't find it easy, somehow. I never get enough sleep, and oldest son being the way he is means that evenings can be extremely hard work; I never actually get to a point where I can think - that's it, I'm done for the day. OH normally gets home just as the youngest and middle ones are going to bed and oldest is finally starting to accept there is homework to be done, so I have to leave all that and run around being Mrs Good Wife (I'm useless at it, but I always figure I ought to try because, you know, home all day and all that while he Goes Out To Earn The Money as he likes to put it) and then I go back to trying to get youngest to shut up so middle one can get to sleep, and then talk to oldest about his homework without him getting loud enough to keep the others awake.

And this is the first day this week I've got up as late as 6:10, because oldest has been getting up at 5:30 to get some homework finished, which means I have to get up at 5:15. He's so difficult to get up in the morning - if I call him too frequently or too angrily he won't get up at all, and if I call him too infrequently or too casually he...doesn't get up at all. A constant balancing act which normally ends in him coming downstairs thirty seconds too late to run for the train, so I have to drive him round there. Which is completely unfair on middle son who walks it every day. Well, maybe being ASD is unfair on eldest, and I do try to remind myself of that quite frequently.

Anyway, enough of all that. Suffice to say that being partway ASD myself - I've come to realise over the past three years - I do find it all quite hard to cope with. So many things to think about all at the same time, so many bits and pieces to have bought and ready for three different people, sleep patterns forever dependent on what's going on in other people's lives rather than mine.

And now it's 8:04, their train has arrived at their station and now I'm trying not to think about my eleven-year-old walking uphill for a mile alongside a very busy A-road (and crossing it under the tutelage of my frankly not-always-quite-all-there thirteen-year-old).

And the bang on the (open) back door followed by something hitting the kitchen floor turns out to be the first greengage of the year falling off next door's tree *sigh* At least they're not soggy yet.

So, first day of the next seven years of my life. I haven't coped very well with the past fifteen years organisation-wise, and there are ravages to be repaired, to me and the house and how I support and guide the boys. I think I need a cup of tea now and I'll try to spend my extra hour thinking about how I'm going to get things back on track. At least the sun's shining so the gi's will dry.




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From:thesmallhobbit
Date:July 11th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)
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Hope the youngest had a good day at school. And that the gradings went well (karate?).

Despite your concerns you sound like you're doing a really good job with your sons. It can't be easy, doing a balancing act with your sons trying to give the eldest sufficient attention (do you feel like you're walking on a tightrope with him a times?) whilst also caring for the other two.

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From:dorsetgirl
Date:August 17th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
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do you feel like you're walking on a tightrope with him at times?

Yes, almost all the time. It was that feeling of still always having to consciously "handle him", even when he was seven years old, that got me doing the reading in the first place, which led me to the diagnosis. (It then took two years to get it confirmed officially).

The grading was for Jiu Jitsu - they started just before last Christmas and have just got their orange belts. The oldest has just moved up to the Senior group at their club, which he's very pleased about.

Are you going to the meetup? This will be the first year I haven't had to rush back from holiday for it!
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From:thesmallhobbit
Date:August 29th, 2010 04:47 pm (UTC)
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He's fortunate that you took the time and trouble to find the diagnosis and then were prepared to battle (I assume it was one) to get the official confirmation. Otherwise I imagine he would have ended up labelled as an awkward child. I presume that doing well at Jiu Jitsu is a great boost to his self-confidence.

I'm not going to the meet up this year, and am rather regretting it now. When the date came out I didn't know when the daughter was starting at uni - a mother has certain responsibilities. I'm also going to Hamlet the following weekend.
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From:eurynome1967
Date:July 13th, 2010 08:50 pm (UTC)
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you are a tower of strength and I admire you hugely. every working morning I get up at 5.55 and that's hell, but i then don't have to face youngsters until 8.30, at which point i am super-intense dominant female to 27 12-year-olds for 15 minutes, before just being a teacher for most of the day. your narrative seems familiar to me, mutatis mutandis, but i think i'm safer on my side of the equation ... i would also say that your boys are very lucky to have a mother who is so good at keeping the balance of care and distance, and who is so genuinely interested in who they are and what they do. thinking of you, thinking of you ...
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From:dorsetgirl
Date:August 17th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
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Catching up at last...

...at which point i am super-intense dominant female to 27 12-year-olds for 15 minutes

I've often thought we're all putting on a performance in large chunks of our lives, and this must particularly be the case for teachers!

keeping the balance of care and distance

Yes, not an easy one to achieve - it's not as if you get any training for this job - but on the whole we seem to get along OK and I have managed to retain their respect for my authority, such as it is. It doesn't work for the oldest one's homework, though! I read somewhere that because ASD students really don't care much what teachers think of them, you've lost a major motivating factor. It doesn't help that he actually finds it easier to get the work done in detention, because it's easier to ask questions than in the full class.

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