Here's my funny clever and kind son with a roast dinner that he rustled up himself. Okay I had to prompt with some of the timings but that's about it. He loves to cook and is developing his skills as part of his Duke of Edinburgh award.
Louis was a 'surprise' when he came along. In my childless days I was a very keen hiker and it was the foremost way that I defined myself. I prided myself in my self-sufficiency on trips to the wilderness where I survived from a backpack that was kitted out to be as light as possible. Yet in 2013, as I was walking in the Corsican mountains, I thought to myself, 'I need a different challenge.' The gods must have heard for they sent along the boy.
I was just a few months pregnant when I popped out to a local garage for some milk. There was a Spanish lady in the queue in front of me. She was the first person who made me realise that your belly becomes public property when there's a foetus in it. She put her hand on my tummy. 'There is a baby in there?' she asked. It was a good job that I could answer in the affirmative and wasn't just a bit fat. I understand that many have made that mistake and you shouldn't really ask a woman if they're pregnant until you can see a head sticking out from under her skirt! She continued with Latino gusto. 'Ah, that is so wonderful! You will never know how much you can love until you have a child. So much love!'
What a prophecy for that's how it is. I couldn't have imagined how wonderful my parenting experience would be. And Lou's made me a better person too. More patient, less selfish and appreciative of my own parents. I couldn't have asked for a more fulfilling mother-child relationship. We are so close but I love seeing him grow and fostering his independence too. He's always been advanced at standing on his own two feet.
Yet his specific learning difficulties have been a challenge especially when viewed alongside my own idiosyncracies. We are so alike in lots of way and that's probably what's made for such an intimate partnership. There is such an understanding and enormous amounts of fun. Yet we both struggle with attention, organisation and clumsy limbs that don't always play ball. With challenging full-time work and single mum-dom the usefulness of the self management strategies that I've adopted-to rein in my dippiness are stretched to their limits anyway. It's hard enough managing myself let alone another little soul who struggles with routine and still sees some of the simplest tasks, e.g. twice daily teeth cleaning as a bit of a relevation.
The formal grammar school education that his dad and I thought would be the right thing for a super bright boy with mild, but ill defined special needs hasn't worked out. I came to dread the regular emails arrived that catalogued his omissions. Believe me I tried but how can you supervise homework, for example, when it hasn't been recorded in a planner in the first place? Or somehow gets lost between my house and the classroom.
So after half term Louis has a fresh start. The final decision was made yesterday and was the cause of my angst. Louis and his dad nearly had a last minute change of heart and the thought of more pings from my mobile announcing that the 'Head of Discipline' would still be on my case seemed a stressor too far. But no more. Louis will be transferring to this school where there's no homework! Instead the kids stay until 5:30 and are supported with their self learning by their teachers who hang around as well. It's one of a new breed of studio schools that prepare kids for employment with work experience built in. Lou's new place of learning specialises in the built environment and draws on his maths and science strengths. It won't be a walk in a park but our challenges will be different. Let's hope it's a place where Lou can flourish. In the meantime we need a half term jaunt to celebrate and recharge our batteries. Come back in a few days to see where our travels take us this time!