At the age of 4 years and 1 month Tommy D started school 3 weeks ago. To say I was worried would be a massive understatement. I would no longer be able to soften the harsh stares and deflect questions about his arm, all I could do was hope we had done enough in giving him the skills to deal with things himself. Then I’d remember he’s only 4 and another wave of fear would wash over me. Would the school work with us or insist he conformed – would they smother him with kindness and thereby halt his progress by doing everything for him or would they follow our lead?
I had many sleepless nights but stepping back and trying to be objective ( not an easy task for a grandma) I could see that Tommy had grown in confidence. On a recent visit to feed the ducks he and LJ were running ahead – I shouted for him to slow down and wait. His response- ‘it’s only a hill mamma it will be fine’ I let them go and they obviously both fell over! BUT they laughed, dusted themselves off and carried on running.
There have been times recently when Tommy has said ‘I think I need a little bit of help with this’ and has directed me to hold a parcel still whilst he pulls the tab to open it. Over the Summer he met lots of other children with limb differences through our charity LimbBo Foundation, so he knows there are others just like him but as September drew nearer there were still nagging doubts.
We built school up as exciting and held our breath as his first day arrived! The following are the posts written by my daughter in law following his first two days – tears of relief tears of pride and breathe!
I’v realised how amazing my boy is so this morning I sent him to school for his first day , spent all day worrying. Normally I don’t but big schools a big day for any kid ,never mind a limb different kid. Trying to make friends but having to explain his arm to a lot of new people . I’v seen how older children behave with Tommy in the past (it wasn’t very nice) so today’s been the first day out of his little bubble he’s had for the past 3 years . I was definitely very nervous . Coming home we asked how his day was ,he was quiet but said what he had done, said he had made a friend called Alfie and he had a good day. So we got home and I thought do I ask the dreaded question . So I did “ So Tommy at school did any boys or girls say anything about your arm” “yes mummy they said why is my arm been cut off” yes I was expecting that but I didn’t expect Tommy’s response “I said I was born like this ,when I was a baby” then he said quietly I’m special and smiled he makes me so proud, well done my big boy
So day two at school for Tommy … I have gained a accident form and lost a jumper on the plus side his teacher said today she sat , watching the kids with Tommy and his arm . She said he made her nearly cry . She’s decided he’s doing an amazing job explaining and he’s so confident, he’s doing such a good job she’s stepping back and letting him explain
I’m so pleased we chose this school, the staff work with us, they now understand how much Tommy can do for himself. I was over the moon to hear the Senco say she was out of her depth as Tommy was the first limb different child they had come into contact with and would take her lead from us and other specialists such as OH.
Yesterday Tommy ran into school holding hands with his new friend Grace. His water bottle slipped from under his little arm but Grace just picked it up and tucked it back again. Kids are just wonderful aren’t they?
The fears have been abated for now, Tommy loves school especially the wheelbarrows and the bricks, he comes home full of sounds he’s learnt and covered in the remains of his lunch. Long may his smiles continue.