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Saturday, February 05, 2011
Al took the last week off to have some serious one on one time with Jack
before he starts school on Monday. A Fairytale Show, the Movies, Mini
golf, Swimming, Shopping, the Museum, Polly Woodside, and a visit to
Geelong just part of the running around they did. This weekend is
designated as quiet home days, encouraged by the weather, which included
over 100mm of rain in our area last night.
Al was rather worried by the lack of information from the School Uniform
Shop, which coming into the last week before school had still not
delivered the order we placed in November last year. They had dismissed
Al’s recent enquires, indicating that they had never failed to deliver
yet. On Tuesday they admitted they couldn’t fill all of our order –
leaving Jack without short sleeve polo tops. (About the most common
item he is going to be wearing at school.)
The last thing we wanted was for Jack to start school not in full
uniform and feeling out of place. I searched eBay, craigslist, trading
post, etc, for any going for second hand, without luck. I also
contacted the school, asking if they knew of anyone selling second hand
tops. The school said not to worry, and have loaned a top for Jack to
wear until our order is filled. Another small example of what made the
school standout when selecting it in the first place.
The Uniform shop did redeem itself a little – by unexpected hand
delivering the rest of the order, which stopped us having to stress
about Australia Post getting it here in time.
Today I finished off labeling Jack’s school clothes, and packed them
away into his cupboards. We also went over what each accessory was with
Jack, and ensured he could get in and out of his Jackets. Aside
re-reading the instructions from the school, and packing his lunch, we
are now ready for him to start school.
Posted by Doug at 3:32 PM
Sunday, February 06, 2011
Grace seems to be teething or going through a growth spurt at the
moment. She clings to her mum more, can be off her food, complains more,
and isn't sleeping as well. That last issue is causing problems. Al is
caught in between a rock and a hard place - if she leaves Grace
screaming in her cot, she will wake up Jack. If she takes Grace out of
the cot and back downstairs, Grace knows it is possible to get out of
having to go to bed. So far Grace is winning.
We are, sadly, somewhat just stuck hoping Grace falls back into her old
sleeping pattern once whatever is ailing her passes. The extra effort
each night and not getting her usual relaxation time is taking its toll
on Al. She is also worrying about how it will impact on the earlier
(and busier) school mornings if things don't improve quickly.
Posted by Doug at 11:34 PM
Monday, February 07, 2011
It was around 18 months ago that Al started her (somewhat large)
investigations into the Primary School we would send Jack to. At the
time we were quite stressed about how Jack would cope at School with his
anxieties and lack of resilience.
The benefit of Al’s efforts were that she covered lots of schools that
were further afield than the average parent might have contemplated, and
it was in fact one of these which we felt was best suited to Jack.
Over the last year or so Jack has really come forwards in leaps and
bounds. His experiences in childcare, and all the activities and
efforts in sport, reading, writing and mathematics have come together to
a point where he is actually confident that he will be able to do
anything asked of him at the start of prep. This has made him much less
Jack has always seemed to either ignore the realities of starting
school, or put on a level of false bravado. He did however handle it in
his own way, and better than we had expected.
There were no tears today when we dropped him off, he didn’t try to
cling to us, and while obviously nervous, he wasn’t scared. He sat down
to concentrate on a large box of connecting toys when we left him there.
As we drove away I couldn’t help but feel this was one of those quietly
momentous occasions in our lives.
Jack was relatively happy when we picked him up, although in the drive
home in the car he focused on a several incidents with other kids, one
where a boy kept pushing him, and when he told him to stop, the boy said
no. He had an argument with another kid about rules, and seemed to have
a couple awkward moments on top of that. I felt a little flat hearing
that – given socialising was always going to be the hardest aspect for
Jack getting settled into school. He then melted down at home when he
said he hadn’t been able to find his art smock (it was in a side pocket
of his bag), and so hadn’t been able to put it in a box as everyone else
After food and some quiet time Jack did manage to quickly settle
himself, and recounted more positive aspects of his day. He still seems
fine about going back tomorrow.
I had to remind myself that – while he didn’t come home with 20 new best
friends and a huge grin on his face, in comparison with what we feared
18 months ago, today was brilliant. Hopefully he will settle in over
the next week or two and start to relax and enjoy himself. If he does
have problems – and socially that is probable, we picked a school which
we feel comfortable will work hard to resolve any issues. It might be a
bumpy ride at times, but I am really hopeful that in the long run he
will have a better primary school experience than I did.
Jack & Mum outside his new classroom
He found is name tag, now time for us to go!
Posted by Doug at 10:33 PM
Tuesday, February 08, 2011
The round trip to drop off Grace at Childcare and Jack at School will be
around an hour. If Jack was at our local school, the trip would be much
closer to 30 minutes. It is a reminder of the substantial time cost at
putting Jack into a school so far away.
There were no tears or complaints from Jack at drop off today. His
teacher was waiting at the door, and remarked that Jack sat quietly,
concentrated and tried very hard with each of the things they did
yesterday - which she said bodes well for how he will go with school.
Little does she know the amount of time and effort that was made towards
preparing him for that!
I could not imagine how difficult Jack would have found it if he had not
been taken to childcare, or had all the opportunities to learn and get
comfortable with what will be happening at school.
Posted by Doug at 9:45 AM
Jack was soon on the verge of tears when we picked him up. For this week
of half days, they are only eating morning tea. Yesterday they did this
over two sittings - so Jack assumed they would be doing the same today.
He left half his morning tea, but they never returned to it. By the time
we picked him up at 1pm he was absolutely starving. We gave him the rest
of his morning tea in the car, and he soon settled and calmed.
He was rather matter of fact about the day, and wasn't focusing on
negative aspects like he did yesterday. He is obviously stressing - he
is licking his lips, and has a red rash around his mouth now, but that
is not surprising. He said he had fun, and doesn't seem phased by the
fact he will be returning again on Thursday. (They have Wednesdays off
for the first term.)
I still wouldn't classify the other prep parents as being especially
friendly - there are a handful of ladies who even seem outright hostile!
It has been good to know a couple sets of parents from childcare, and we
now have a couple extra sets of parents from the information night and
the tea and tears session that make a point of chatting. We will have to
keep making a relaxed effort to get to know more of them.
Posted by Doug at 2:05 PM
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
We had our largest fight yet with Grace tonight. Over the last week or
two Grace has won a few battles where she has cried hard upon going to
bed, and so been picked up and taken down stairs again. Al has been
more focused on Jack and his school, and has not wanted him to be woken
up. A couple times Grace has won two rounds in a night – getting back
down stairs on a second occasion.
Tonight she simply refused to go to sleep. It did not matter what Al
did, patting, holding, rocking or leaving her, she cried furiously. It
was obvious we could not let her come downstairs again, so we ended up
having to tag team (since individually neither of us would have had the
stamina to outlast her).
Grace worked herself up into the most full on, ferocious rage, shaking
the hell out of her cot, slamming her legs up and down, and kicking the
sides with such force the vibrations could be felt downstairs. In the
end she head-butted the side of the cot so hard that she must have
almost knocked herself out. She cried furiously but I did not pick her
up, just patted her in the cot. It seemed to be the metaphorical slap
in the face, for she shook herself out of her rage, sobbed a few times,
then rolled over and finally put herself to sleep.
It has left both Al and I shell shocked. We have had so many issues
with Jack’s behaviour, but I can’t ever remember quite this level of out
of control fury. Neither of us remained as calm as we needed through
the entire clash, and so there wasn’t any satisfaction with her finally
going to sleep, just regret at not being able to have handled it better.
We think she is teething at the moment (her back molars), which were
always Jack’s worst times - so she is already feeling out of sorts. We
are in so much trouble if Grace has the stamina for this type of battle
for days or weeks on end.
Posted by Doug at 10:34 PM
Thursday, February 10, 2011
This afternoon while picking up Grace from Childcare, Al spoke to her
carer who had also spent the last few years with Jack. The carer
remarked that she had expected to see some similarities between Grace
and Jack’s personalities, but was surprised that they were completely
She indicated Grace was much more laid back and relaxed. She said you
could sit Grace down next to any of the other kids and she would be
fine, something many kids of her age don’t handle. She apparently mixes
and socialises easily, and is part of an inseparable threesome with
Annabel and Alisha.
While we didn’t think Grace was having any issues, it was somewhat of a
relief to get that sort of feedback.
(I think it wasn’t until Jack got to about three and a half that he
started to mix with other kids.)
Jack was more relaxed and at ease after picking him up from school
today. He didn't recount any negatives from the day.
Posted by Doug at 7:10 PM
Friday, February 11, 2011
This morning at school drop off, Jack’s Prep teacher asked if she could
speak with Al. Once the kids had filed into the room she pulled Al
aside and remarked that Jack was a very smart kid, whose reading was
already quite advanced. She said he was a delightful, well behaved kid
in class, and that she was really pleased to be teaching him. She also
said they were aware of his anxieties, and were working to help him with
them. She finished by saying that we had done a lovely job with raising
It was nice feedback to hear – more so because the teacher had obviously
read the transition statement for Jack, and been really observing him
over the past few days, noticing what he was finding easy, and what he
was struggling with.
The main reason we chose this particular school was because we felt they
would cater for all aspects of Jack – the areas where he might be more
advanced, and the areas where he was falling behind his peers. Early
days, but it has been nice that some of those key thoughts we had about
the school have already surfaced into a reality.
Posted by Doug at 9:48 AM
The first week of school down and Jack seems relatively relaxed at pick
up. He is a little reserved in his feedback, but for the most part
seems to be enjoying the activities in class and is coping with the big
upheaval and change to the routine of his life. His lists of negatives
have been surprisingly small – such as the number of dogs around the
school at drop off times, and how some kids push each other when lined
up. But he hasn’t really been dwelling on these like he can have a
tendency to do.
He isn’t jumping with enthusiasm each morning, but he also isn’t
fretting. While I am sure he is worried about things, I suspect he is
actually stressing less overall than his parents have been. All told,
it has been a good first week, and we are both quite proud of him, and
how he has handled it.
Posted by Doug at 2:38 PM
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Al was organising the kids and pram to head out to the park and
supermarket this afternoon. Jack was rocking the pram forwards and
backwards when Al was about to put Grace in it. Grace struggled,
pointed at Jack, and loudly said “No, No, No, No, No”. She obviously
did not want Jack to be in charge of the pram, so Al asked Jack to move
away and Grace went into the Pram ok.
Grace’s speech is charging forward. She still has her cute baby babble,
but more and more she is using the correct words in the correct context.
I’ve also noticed she is understanding relatively complex instructions,
although is prone to ignore the more simple ones like “no”.
Posted by Doug at 5:54 PM
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The company Al works for tends to offer bonuses at Christmas and special
events which can be spent at their staff shop. Over the last decade we
have amassed quiet a collection of goods, most of which sit in cupboards
and get used once in a blue moon. In recent years we have struggled to
find items on which to spend the bonuses on that we did not already
have. Yesterday Al spent her Christmas Bonus on $300 worth of kitchen
knives – 3 of them to be exact. The staff member said they were the
best knives in the world. We were just pleased to have spent the bonus
before it expired on something which wouldn’t take up much cupboard
Posted by Doug at 9:13 AM
Thursday, February 17, 2011
When I picked up Jack on Tuesday afternoon from School he was in a very
good mood. This continued yesterday and through to today. When I dropped
him off this morning, he wandered into his classroom happily chatting to
his teacher, relaxed, and without a glance over his shoulder. He got
invited (along with the rest of his class) to a birthday party next
week, which pleased him. In passing he also made references over the
last couple days to playing and talking with some of the other boys in
his class. Whatever level of interaction he is having with the other
kids in prep at the moment, it must be enough for him to be happy.
Posted by Doug at 11:15 AM
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Jack came out of his class room with a smile on his face, and said that
he had had a good day. In the car trip home however, in a matter of
fact way, he recounted that he had just played by himself today, and
that in class during one particular group activity a number of boys were
calling him Poofy Jack, Poo Poo, and remarking that he should have his
doodle cut off. The names he mentioned were unfortunately the kids he
had been interacting with the most so far.
I could feel my stomach drop.
He seemed to cope with it ok, and just remarked to them that they were
teasing and being rude. It might have been nothing, a once off silly
session. Or it could be the sign of things to come.
I had to remind myself not to read too much into it – and to realise
that even if that sort of thing escalated, we picked this school for
their very proactive approach to dealing with such things.
I have really felt out of sorts and – subconsciously stressed, over the
last few weeks, worrying about Jack and how it is all going. It has
been such a big focus for so long, and now that we are here at this
point, we have weeks, months, possibly years before we will fully know
how he settles in, and how it all turns out for him.
Posted by Doug at 4:22 PM
Thursday, February 24, 2011
The drive to Jack’s school only took 15 minutes this morning – the
quickest trip so far. The negative of this was a 30 minute wait for the
bell to go.
Jack had an overly big smile on his face and said he wanted to play.
This however was just the repetitive action of going down a slide and
then walking back up it, over and over. As the playground got busier and
more kids were on the equipment, he started to getting in the way. A
couple kids made a point of sliding down into Jack as he was climbing
up, to which he yelled no at them and glared – to obviously no positive
effect. In the end he copped a harder hit, came over to me with his face
crumpling, before bursting out into tears.
I pointed out to him that slides are for sliding down, and that if he
was getting in the way, it was up to him to stop climbing. What came out
of the crying session was the suggestion that generally lunch was too
busy and loud, so he would just go up and down the slide the entire time
– his little safety area. He had also previously been deliberately
rammed then too.
I don’t know if it is just the one or two incidents that he is dwelling
on, or if this just related to Tuesday where he obviously hadn’t felt
comfortable to join in with anyone else at lunch. What was apparent was
that for all Jack’s bravado, he is stressing and worrying about the time
in the playground.
We have a get to know you BBQ this evening, and his first school party
on the weekend. We might have to make an extra effort to get to know the
parents of some of the kids in his class, something we haven’t achieved
Posted by Doug at 9:29 AM
Friday, February 25, 2011
We went to a “Get to know you” BBQ at Jack’s school last night. We did
not really end up meeting any new parents, but we did catch up with all
the parents we have so far made a connection with. After a slow start,
Jack spent the evening playing with one of the kids from his childcare,
and the son of one of the parents we get along well with. Unfortunately
these kids are not in his class.
We saw the child who has been picking on Jack – and Al actually heard
him call out “Poofy Jack”. I observed the same child later deliberate
throw another boy hard down onto the ground, causing him to cry. The
blank look in the bullies face, and complete lack concern or care about
the consequences suggest we won’t be able to just ignore him, and need
to work with the school to address the issue.
This morning at school drop off Al witnessed the sort of thing Jack is
up against. When they arrived they caught up with the parent of the boy
Jack was playing with last night. He was with a couple other kids
playing basketball, and the parent and Al encouraged Jack to go join
them. He was hesitant, but to his credit did. A minute later he was
back crying, because one of the boys had told him that he wasn’t allowed
Al, seeing red, (and highly inappropriately) went and spoke to the boy.
The answers she got where what could be expected, that Jack was not in
his class, so he did not want to play with him, that it is was his ball,
and he could choose who he wanted to play with, that he had lots of
friends and did not want any more. Al forced the issue by saying you
could not have too many friends, but shortly after Jack rejoined the boy
took his ball and left. Hopefully Jack doesn’t suffer any consequences
So basically Jack is making much more of an effort to join in than what
I would have at the same age, but through “clicky” groups of kids who
already know each other and a handful of outright bullies, is having his
confidence knocked hard.
We can’t fight Jack’s battles for him, and you don’t want to be the
parents who always cry wolf, but we left a note in his communication
book today just asking the Teacher to keep an ear open for when Jack
might be bullied in class, to try and constrain things before they
escalate. It wouldn’t take much at this point for Jack to go from
loving school to hating it – with all the horrible consequences that
Posted by Doug at 10:24 AM
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Jack went to his first school birthday party.
It did not go well.
Jack had half a dozen teary sessions during the morning, was very up and
down, and quite surly. I had vainly hoped he was just over tired, but in
reality he was stressing about the party.
It was at a play centre that he had visited before. We got there and he
excited said hello to a number of the other kids he ran into, and with a
bit of nudging from Al, went off to play. He came back a number of times
to complain about this or that, or ask his mum to go with him. He wasn’t
looking that happy.
Just before food was served he came back quite upset – having scared
himself going down a big slide. Al managed to distract him with food,
but it was obvious he was on the edge, and a crash could be expected.
After lunch someone ran into him on another slide and scrapped an area
under his arm. Jack was inconsolable, and complaining about how the
(relatively minor) scape was killing him. Again Al managed to get him
calm (after a lot of work), and he went back into the play equipment –
but this was short lived.
More distraught crying soon followed, and he started demanding to go
Queue a somewhat embarrassing early exit. It was not worth staying
longer however; Jack would only have gotten worse.
He had basically gone backwards 18 months – to where he was when he was
4. There was some rough and tumble amongst the kids, and while we were
not constantly watching him, there did not seem to be any animosity or
the like. A number of kids at different times approach him and said
hello, and he chatted to a number of them. If he wasn’t fitting in, or
wasn’t comfortable, it certainly wasn’t the fault of the other kids
there. He just simply couldn’t cope with the situation.
In a slightly disturbing way Al and I separated and mingled, getting to
know a number of the parents of kids in Jack’s room, including a couple
who Jack had spoken positively of. (Although I seemed to keep finding
parents who knew the birthday girl through childcare, and were not going
to the same school!) It seems like we are trying too hard, although I
don’t think it looked that way. At least having a few more familiar
faces at pick up and drop off will be good.
At best their lasting impression will be of sociable parents, and Jack's
sobbing, snot and tear smeared face. At worst, well, lets not think
Posted by Doug at 2:36 PM
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Jack finished his Milo cricket
Posted by Doug at 6:32 PM
Monday, February 28, 2011
Grace, Grandma C & Jack
Posted by Doug at 6:15 PM