The Kidlets

Old Blog Post, Posted: Dyspraxia

Dated 27th of November, 2010.  I’ve been going through all my drafts trying to get a nice clean slate.  Most of the drafts aren’t worth keeping honestly but this brought back a lot of memories of the struggles our eldest was having in the school system.  I wish I had published it back then to have a record of what we were going through with his Dyspraxia diagnosis (something our youngest was also diagnosed with, but his presented differently behaviourally.  For our youngest it was more his gross and fine motor skills effected).

For my own record keeping, here’s the post from 2010.

First comes the guilt. How could I have watched my child struggle for all these years and never realised there was something actually wrong?  How many of my issues over the years with him come down to this condition?  I thought he was just difficult and naughty.  Oh so many years of anger and discipline…when all along his angry outbursts and inability to follow instructions wasn’t him just being disobedient it was a medical condition.  I should have known.  I feel like I have failed my son in so many ways.

Then comes my gripe with the Queensland Education system. How on earth did we go through so many parent-teacher meetings where my concerns and there’s were discussed and just settle on, “He just needs to work on his fine motor skills“.  Why did no one put the pieces together?  Poor social interactions with his peer’s (he has been bullied and struggled to maintain friendships even as far back as 2 years of age), poor fine motor skills, poor gross motor skills, he couldn’t read without help until he was 8 years old, inability to follow a sequence of instructions (eg. write out the sentence on the blackboard, place your book on my desk and then sit on the carpet).  I’m convinced they just thought he wasn’t bright and moved on.

Next comes this overwhelming relief that finally there may be answers.

This is not my first mention of my struggles with my eldest son on this blog.  In fact I have been blogging during his entire school life.

Here is a post I wrote just over 4 years ago during his first year of schooling.  I was racked with guilt then too.  I thought it was my fault he wasn’t at the same level as his peers.  I was convinced that all these other kids had better qualified parents and that I was the cause for his downfall.

Earlier this year when Alex turned 9 I briefly mentioned that Alex has always been a challenge to raise and that I feel like we’ve had unreasonable expectations of him all his life.

This experience with him being bullied has been an ongoing theme throughout his schooling.  Since moving to England we’ve noticed they crack down on bullying a lot harder here.  In some ways I think its just easier for them to identify bullying going on with small enclosed playgrounds as opposed to Australia’s big oval’s and sprawled school grounds.  It must be near impossible for every student to be in line of sight of a teacher in Aus, here space is limited.  The social problems he had last year were just simply that kids stopped wanting to hang out with him after a little while.  He made several friends over the course of the year but none of the friendships stuck for long.  He tries so hard and we always try and help him along by buying him whatever the new “thing” is that people are playing with at school (last year we went through Match Attax Cards, Pokemon figures and Go-Go Crazy Bones).

The revelation came yesterday evening when we had a meeting with Alex’s teacher to discuss his progress so far.  For the very first time I feel like we met a real proper educator.  Someone who gets kids.  Someone who doesn’t just follow the syllabus for the school term but who actually understands how to EDUCATE children.  She was frank with us.  She laid down her observations of Alex honestly and talked us through what it all meant.  With our go ahead she is now organising an Educational Psychologist to come in and assess him.

Our experience with all the other teachers over the years has been:

  • They strongly stress that he’s a lovely, polite boy and a pleasure to have around.
  • When we query how he’s coping socially they throw out some names of students he’s friends with (regardless of if these friendships lasted all of 2 weeks) and say he fits in just fine.
  • When we query his messy hand writing we are told that its not uncommon for a boy his age.
  • In fact at his previous school in England I think we fed his teacher an easy excuse for all of his difficulties, she just simply blamed him having missed 6 months of Year 2 back in Aus when we moved…and that was that.

The teacher we spoke to last night:

  • Certainly highlighted that he’s a lovely boy with wonderful manners…but unlike other teachers this was only the beginning of her observations.
  • She showed us his hand writing.  Explained how it differs from what she would expect from a 9 to 10 year old.
  • She told us how long it had taken him to write those two paragraphs with assistance (40 minutes).
  • Explained that he is on a table with a staff member assisting him for all of his school work (she had identified his need for this a few weeks into the school year).
  • Described how he not only struggles to interpret an idea and write it down but that he also struggles to process the train of thought and then verbalise them.
  • The biggest revelation?  She described his social interactions with his peers (after all how can a parent have a clue about this when all she gets is her childs recounting of what went on today?).  She described her observations of him on the playground.  She told us that the one child he can consistently play with has some similar issues and that the two of them play alongside each other but not really together but individually.
  • She told us that his intense difficulties with controlling his pencil along with the other concerns looks to be very much like Dyspraxia.

On arriving home I googled Dyspraxia (not something I had ever heard of) and as I read the list of Symptoms I just wanted to cry.

It makes so much sense.  Not just the learning difficulties…but the headaches?  The emotional outbursts?  His rage issues (stemming from his frustration with everything being so hard to grasp).  The way he doesn’t follow instructions…

London · Out and About · The Kidlets · To Move

3 Trails Down, 3 To Go

I was inspired by this post over at The Magnificent Something to complete the 6 Discovery Trails around London searching for the Olympic Mascots (Wenlock and Mandeville).  My poor directional skills and lugging kids along for the adventure have meant it’s taken me a little longer than I’d hoped.  We’ve kept chugging along though and so far we’ve managed to complete the Blue, Red and Green Trails.

We explored the Blue trail first and found it a bit tricky (lots of weird directions that didn’t make a whole lot of sense so lots of wrong turns!).  Sadly we couldn’t access Sir Wenlock at Guildhall.  We were there the day of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony and whilst we were nowhere near the actual ceremony there were news crews and lots of official looking vehicles around Guildhall along with lots of Paralympics volunteers.  Security was everywhere so we didn’t push our luck trying to get into the courtyard.  Hopefully I can get back there when I do the Yellow Trail this week.

The Red Trail was familiar territory for us starting at Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.  We had a dental appointment near there on Friday so we jumped straight into the hunt for Mascots with shiny clean teeth to boot.  This one was a nice easy path to follow with a lot less walking then the other Trails.  If you’re keen on seeing some of the Mascots but don’t want anything too time consuming try the Red Trail.  Lambeth Palace Mandeville wasn’t on PhotoRoute’s map but you’ll spot it across the road as you approach Garden Wenlock at the start of Lambeth Bridge.

The Green Trail was nice and easy too with lots of other families exploring Regents Park on Sunday.  We popped into London Zoo for a few hours after finding the first 9 Mascots and then finished off the final two on the way home.

After all that walking (particularly with me managing to get us lost regularly) the kidlets are completely over the whole trail thing and have lost all faith in “Mum’s idea of an outing” (I swear they’d moan and complain if I suggested going on a walk to get ice cream).  We took a break today and vegged on the couch watching movies.  Hopefully I can inspire them to come out with me tomorrow to do the Purple and Pink trails.  The kids go back to school on Thursday and the mascot statues come down on Sunday so we’re on a deadline.  I think I’ll be exploring the Yellow trail on my own later this week!

If you’re interested in exploring the Discovery Trails for yourself, check out their Official Page and be sure to check for details of missing or replaced Mascots so you don’t go nuts looking for them.  For maps (if you have a smart phone download the app, I had to do it the old-fashioned way and printed the directions out) then go here.  A quick note to anyone who plans to print the directions, the printing was awful in Chrome but just fine in Firefox (I didn’t try IE).

Wish me Luck! Continue reading “3 Trails Down, 3 To Go”

London · Out and About · The Kidlets · United Kingdom

This is what happens…

…when a naughty food blogger decides to go to the free wine tasting BEFORE taking photos of all the yummy gourmet food samples at the Foodies Festival!  Double oops!

It’s entirely possible that sticking around after the wine tasting to listen to the Hendrick’s Gin guy taking us through the history of Gin and then consuming a number of free cocktails (they were delish! I’m definitely going to try Gin next time we’re making cocktails at home) contributed to my memory card being chocka block with blurry photos of feet and trees.

Anywho!  The Foodies Festival at Battersea Park was a pretty awesome day out with loads of food to try (and buy) and free cooking and drinks demonstrations throughout the day.  I’m not going to lie, there aren’t a lot of photos of the actual food here but this fascinating display of me having a jolly good time eating and drinking whilst my children laugh both with me and at me is almost as good, right?

Our adventure began with a sunny walk along the Thames Path headed towards Battersea Park.

We tried a LOT of food today.  Almost all of it was yummy.  These infused Olive Oil’s were no exception and they had gorgeous humus dips spread out to Master 11’s right.  Naturally there are no photos of it.  We did buy a jar of their Harissa to pour over humus at home, it was that good…nom nom nom…

The stand out food of the day was hands down the Cornish Oysters.  I love Oysters so it wasn’t a huge leap for me but Mitch has never been a huge fan (he’ll eat them if he’s at a Seafood Buffet but would never order them) and he was blown away by these oysters too.  There weren’t any free samples (for obvious reasons) but we were more than happy to part with £1.50 a pop for these babies.

Continue reading “This is what happens…”

London · Move Over · The Kidlets · To Move

The Moaning

…and not of the sexy variety.  Moaning about the weather is part of being British and I’ve embraced it whole heartedly.  Ordinarily my complaints about the weather are different to everyone else’s but I think everyone’s cool with that.  I’m a gloomy weirdo who’s fond of the rain, cool weather (10-15 degrees is my favourite!  5-10 degrees whilst sunny is even more glorious, but very rare) and I even adore the snow and ice now that I don’t have to drive in it.

Anywho!  The moaning I’m referring to is over the 2012 London Olympics.  I know there have been big issues over the past 12 or so months (eg. the ticketing and more recently the private security company hired for the games messing up) but all in all I think the Olympics are something to be hugely proud of.  I’m crazy excited about not only living in this wonderful city whilst the games are on but also to be seeing 3 events (albeit not very exiting ones, but hey! we took what we could get).  It makes me want to puff my chest up proud to be a Londoner!

I completely agree that the strain on London’s Transport System is going to be a pain in the behind.  Already travel has become more difficult and we’re still a few days out from the Opening Ceremony but considering the huge amount of tourists who have already started to pour into the city, is it really surprising?  So many times I’ve heard moaning about the Olympics being a huge waste of money and resources and a big disruption to everyone’s lives.  I just don’t get it!  Isn’t it an honour to hold such a huge event in the U.K?  Won’t it bring thousands of tourists who will spend money on accommodation, food, sight-seeing and more?  Isn’t it something to be proud of?  A huge achievement and the opportunity for the U.K to be in the limelight.  Sounds like a positive thing to me.

Yes the adding an Olympic lane business on London’s roads is a disaster just waiting to happen (have you heard that they are ditching some “bus lanes” and painting over them with the silly olympic lane logo? currrraaaazy town!) and I cringe to think about the chaos that is about to ensue.  In the end though those are all obstacles that everyone will work around and it might even be worthy of a giggle in years to come (maybe).  The whole planning process certainly hasn’t been perfect but in the end, we get to host a huge event that will have the worlds eyes looking at London and that’s got to be worth a bit of inconvenience.

Londoners already expect travelling to get a little annoying in the summer time when we’re inundated with tourists.  As a foreigner who was once one of those tourists most of the time they make me smile.  I love seeing them wide-eyed taking in the sights with their map in one hand and camera in the other.  It’s refreshing seeing the little things I take for granted through a visitors eyes.  A little nudge reminding me to appreciate all that London has to offer.

I happily take people’s photo for them when asked and I even kinda love it when someone asks me for directions and I know the way (for the record I’m atrocious with directions but boy do I try!  I can picture it in my head but it comes out of my mouth a bit gobble-dee-gook and I’m sure half the time they smile, nod and ask the next person they see).

Yes certain things annoy the heck out of me (Please, for the love of all things stripey, Stand on the Right when travelling down the escalators!) but all in all it’s part of living in a big city and I’m okay with that.  If anything it makes me feel proud to live here because other people appreciate all those things that drew me to London.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times I curse tourist season. Last week with all the kids in tow I had two run in’s with the crowds whilst just trying to go about our normal routine.  The first time was on the way to the Dentist.  I should have seen that one coming since we had to go via Westminster but the groups of tourists gawking at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament blocking the walk way were frustrating all the same.  The second time was at Baker Street Station on our way to Fencing lessons, the groups mulling about waiting to go into Madame Tussaud’s made my head feel like it was going to explode.  I was a flustered sweaty mess by the time we got to our destination!  I’ve had to accept that sometimes I just have to be rude and loudly excuse myself whilst pushing through groups of people.  It makes me feel a bit mean and rude, but It’s part of living here and one day I imagine these moments will make for fond memories.

Yes, things will be a bit more hectic and over run in the next few months but I’m trying to look on the bright side.  I don’t even like watching sports, or playing them for that matter (unless there’s a who-can-sit-on-their-bottom-the-longest-without-it-going-numb Olympic event?) but hosting the Olympics and showing off this great city to the world feels awesome!

Move Over · The Kidlets

Master 11’s Birthday Sleep-Over

Can I just say that after having 6 rowdy boys under one roof for the past 24 hours, 3 boys is going to seem gloriously quiet at 4pm today when Master 11’s mates head home.

I won’t make this a wordy one, I think the photos speak for themselves.

Cake, water-fight’s, lots of playstation and a pile of boys watching movies and hanging out in our living room for the night.  Oh and food, lots and lots of food!

Star Wars 3 tier cake

star wars cake 3-Tier