In exactly one and a bit years Eilidh will start school. It would be fair to say I’m anxious about it.
I banned both kids from getting older but as ever they have chosen to ignore me. Rory now wants product in his hair (he’s a Dapper Dan man) and last night told me he has ‘quit’ his first girlfriend (because she won’t play with him anymore). FFS, what happened to my wee buddy?
Eilidh, likewise, is marching on relentlessly. It feels like only yesterday we were bringing her home from hospital. It’s all headed in one direction though. While I still consider myself a new dad, the reality is it won’t be long before one of them is sneaking bottles of Malbec from my wine rack and swapping it for 2 litres of White Lightning on street corners.
But before all that, and back to the point, Eilidh will make the transition from the protective and amazing cocoon that is her nursery and start to brave the big, bad and very real world.
It’s been on my mind a lot this week because we had our 6 monthly progress meeting where we review Eilidh’s milestones with her support team. She’s met and exceeded all her goals and now all the focus turns to readiness for school.
It’s a whole new world for Lynn and I, but one that we’re not afraid to face into. My thought processes are mixed, rambling and probably irrational and I crave a certainty for Eilidh that I know we can’t achieve.
I want the very best for Eilidh. It goes without saying, she’s my daughter and all parents want the best for their children. But what is best for Eilidh? There seems to be two obvious routes – either through mainstream or at a school for kids with Additional Support Needs (ASN).
My instinct says mainstream. This way Eilidh gets treated as ‘normal’ as possible. She learns so much from being with her peer group at nursery, constantly observing and picking up language and behavioural prompts. She would go to the same school as Rory, a place that she is already familiar with, and indeed is somewhat of a star attraction in the playground at home time!
On the other hand if her needs are so specific that she can’t be properly supported in mainstream then maybe ASN would be better. These schools are geared up for the additional support needs she may have. But what if the best is miles away? Would I uproot the family and move them to get Eilidh the best opportunities. Lynn and I long ago committed that we would not allow things to negatively impact Rory. He loves his school and has great friends there so that would not be fair to him.
If it is to be mainstream, what level of support will Eilidh require? Does the school have that support available? Budget cuts have hit hard and therefore is not as freely available as before. Could I pay for additional support in school? Would I need to sell Rory to pay for this!?
I am trying to approach this as positively as I can. My starting point is one of optimism – there’s nothing we will come up against that we can’t work through. We’re at the start of the journey, and I’ve got a lot to ask and learn about. I’m probably going to annoy quite a few people in my quest to help Eilidh reach her potential, but then, my girl deserves nothing less.
31st March 2017