Freddie doesn’t often get ill, so when I heard that there was a tummy bug going around at school I was confident that it would pass us by. It usually does. I would like to believe that this is down to my dogged insistence on the importance of good hand washing, but in reality it is most probably down to the luck of the draw. On this occasion, however, my hubris caught the eye of a passing rotavirus that decided to come and visit him for the weekend, to keep company with the pounding headache that I had been brewing all day Thursday.
I took Freddie to the toilet at 11pm, as I always do. As he sat there he told me he was hungry, which is quite unusual for him. I think that he’s still in the process of figuring out which internal sensation means which thing. He’s beginning to get it pegged down, but it’s still a work in progress. I could hear his tummy gurgling, though. I told him that it was too late to have anything to eat now, but it would soon be morning, and I listed all the nice things we could eat at breakfast time. When I tucked him back into bed he asked for a snuggle — also an unusual thing for him to do at that time of night — so I got in with him and gave him a hug. Perhaps that’s why I had an inkling of what might be about to happen. As soon as he started coughing I shouted to Daddy to bring a bowl, and in the meantime hustled Freddie back to the bathroom.
I hope the stegosaurus on his pyjama top likes half-digested baked beans because he certainly got a big helping! And all the while I felt like his ankylosaurus mate was whacking me in the side of the head with the bony club on the end of his tail (it’s amazing how much I’ve learned about dinosaurs reading with Freddie).
It seemed like the best thing would be for Freddie and Daddy to swap beds for the night. I’ve always taken my children into bed with me when they’ve been ill, it makes caring for them through the night so much easier, and it’s reassuring for them to have their parent so close. I made us a sort of sick bay den. On Freddie’s bedside table was a drink of water, his teddy, and a triceratops night light, and on mine another drink, placed well away from my phone, a selection of painkillers hidden in the pocket of my dressing gown which hangs on the back of the door, and the spare washing-up bowl — because I’m buggered if I’m stripping beds or shampooing carpets in the middle of the night. And if I did, then who’d be watching Freddie to see if he was about to be sick again? I don’t believe in making life hard work for myself.
I feel the need to point out that we never wash dishes in that bowl, it just hangs around in the laundry room waiting for it’s big break, which will sadly never come now; it’s destined for ever more to be nothing more than an emergency sick bowl. Such a disappointment for a medium-priced household utensil.
Take a tip from me — because it doesn’t get any better as they get older — once your children are old enough to get hangovers, insist they have plastic wastepaper bins in their bedrooms and make sure you have a bin in the car as well.
By a massive stroke of luck Freddie didn’t fall ill until after I’d managed to get all the important jobs of the week done — in my book that’s almost a lottery win. OK, that’s a slight exaggeration, but the nearest I’m going to get because I never buy a ticket — the tenets of my Methodist upbringing must be more deep-rooted than I thought. It wasn’t your respectably middle-of-the-road High Street Methodism, it was a completely independent breakaway church. I was baptised in a wooden shed situated next to a Fire Station (prudent, for a timber construction). I don’t remember whether or not it ran to a font — I might have been dunked in a bucket. It didn’t bother about trivial things like keeping records, so later, as an adult I had to be re-baptised (in a proper font in a Catholic church) alongside an eight-year-old schoolmate of my daughter, whose mother complained that the priest had made the girl’s mascara run (and don’t get me started on some of the First Communion get-up: ‘reformed pole-dancers’ comes to mind).
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes — Freddie and I were able to stay tucked up in bed, watching TV for the whole of Friday morning. We’re now praying for a snow day so that we can do it again, but feeling well so that we can enjoy it, with hot chocolate and hot buttered toast thrown in for good measure. Not literally thrown in — served on one of those trays with fold up legs, and a checked tea-cloth with not too many stains.
It’s just as well I’d got all the business of the week out of the way, because I had some important stuff on last week. I can scarcely believe it’s true, but the time has come for me to start thinking about which High school Freddie will go to. It might seem like I’m jumping the gun a bit, since he’s only in year 5, but Freddie hates change and the transition will not be easy, he needs to be introduced to the idea gradually, over a long period of time. His current school are more than willing to help us with that, but first we need to know which school he will be transferring to.
As Freddie is at a specialist school there are only two suitable schools in the area for us to choose from. I had made appointments to view them both at the beginning of the week, just prior to his annual EHCP review on Thursday, when there would be a lady from the LA in attendance to talk about transition. I was impressed by both schools, and reassured at seeing them and talking to the staff, but felt straight away that Freddie would fit in much better with the other pupils of the second one I saw. I didn’t take Freddie with me on this occasion. If I had I think he would have made his own decision based on the fact that one of the schools has it’s own therapy dog (luckily for him it’s my preferred school).
The EHCP review causes us much less trouble and heartache than it seems to cause other parents. Freddie started out with a Statement of Special Educational Need, written when he was three. In the drafting of this, we and the professionals involved were greatly supported by one of the nurseries he went to — a specialist setting which he attended for two two-hour sessions a week designed to give him a developmental ‘leg-up’ in preparation for school. It was, of course, run by a charity: you don’t get that sort of help off the Local Authority. The Statement, which was converted to an EHCP last year has, therefore, always worked well for us, and since he is at a specialist school it has always been fully implemented and adhered to.
There is only one thing it doesn’t include provision for, and that is Speech Therapy, as Freddie is ‘verbal’, but the gap between his speech and that of a typical child his age is widening, and so I asked for it to be included on the EHCP. The teacher has referred us — she had the forms filled in and ready for me to sign at the review meeting — but I was warned that the number of referrals being accepted is being vastly reduced. It’s likely we will be turned down: if we are I will just have to start making a polite but insistent nuisance of myself, like that paperclip icon that used to pop up on my computer screen, discreetly tapping whenever I ignored one of the petty rules of English for the sake of interesting writing, or poetry. But everyone knows that you have no business trying to write that on a computer anyway, you have to do it with a quill.
The lady from the LA was keen to impress upon me that I would have to apply for Freddie’s high school place by October this year. She was surprised, though, that I’d not only already thought about it, but had already been to view some schools. I might not have been jumping the gun after all, but it seems I’m still slightly ahead of the game. This is probably because I’ve been through all this before.
You can’t really can’t beat a bit of lived experience.