SP has remarkably long fingers. The sort that inpire comments about concert pianists and ET.
They are even more remarkable as the most accurate barometer of his mood going. When SP is anxious they ball into fists. Even when his facial expression and other body language seem to be ok, those fists are an indication that the whole world could collapse at any moment.
He was born with fists tight and it took an eternity for those long fingers to unfurl.
When he would feed, however, once they had uncurled, he would drum on my breast with them, a relaxed and content patter of tiny fingers. Now, when he’s excited his fingers will flicker and twitch, an outlet for his excessive energy. As he cuddles to sleep at night he strokes my fingernails, soothed by the smooth surface of my varnish.
This week has been SP’s first week in mainstream school. Last Sunday I couldn’t sleep out of anxiety: would he wear his uniform; would the classroom be too much; would he follow instruction; would he cope at lunchtime; would we be able to get him into his PE kit when he hates shorts and different shoes; would he lash out at the other children and staff; what would the repercussions be if he did?
He objected to his new jumper and I stuck his clip-on tie on him without him realising. I hugged him tight and carried him into the classroom, aware that his fists were in tight balls.
They relaxed as we settled him into an activity and started to fidget. I allowed myself to relax as I headed out the door. If his fingers were ok, he was ok. Shakira’s hips don’t lie and neither do SP’s digits!
It was a long day though and although he came out full of smiles, the ordeal was evident: his hands were in fists as we headed to the park for a promised play. We didn’t stay long; the day had taken it out of him.
The next day was a challenge. He resisted the jumper and tie of his uniform, he refused to put his shoes on. Again his hands were in balls and despite it being a lovely day of long overdue me-time, I couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling. When I picked him up this time I was told that it had been a bad day.
He did kick off about his PE kit, but thankfully the school were relaxed enough to let him wear jogging bottoms and his usual shoes. And the rest of the week has been a revelation. He’s a lone figure amongst the crowd of new children, preferring to take held straight into his chosen spot on the carpet rather than play before class. But he listens and does as he’s instructed. He helps tidy and is generally sweet. He’s coping, even though “there are lots of children on the carpet, Mummy.” He’s been chosen as the first Star of the Week. (Although I’m not sure how he’s going to cope in an assembly of 270 children plus staff. We’ll cross that bridge on Monday.)
As we left the playground yesterday, SP ran up and down the number grid counting the numbers, 1 to 100. His fingers flicked as he counted, matching the big smile on his face.
I know we’re going to face plenty of challenges with school, particularly with the council so stubborn to meet the additional needs of those with cognitive/social disabilities. There will be days that will go brilliantly and there will be days where it’s going to take a tsunami of an effort just to get SP through the gates.
But watching his fingers twitch and flicker makes my heart swell. He did it:he survived his first week at school and I couldn’t be more proud of him. Thumbs up!