Star was very excited to be visiting my brother and his wife in London.
Despite growing up in suburbia I have never driven through central London, we always use the train and tube instead.
So we set off one chilly December morning, with our warm coats, hat, gloves and a backpack full of Christmas presents. For the hour and a half long journey to “Uncle Robin’s.”
“Oh that will be so exciting for the children,” said lots of our friends.
And it was exciting.
Public transport is also fairly challenging if a you a child who struggles with transitions.
We spend a lot of our lives thinking about, planning for and dealing with transitions.
On some days, literally
Going to the toilet, washing hands, clothes off, clothes on, slippers on, slippers off, shoes on. Eating breakfast, drinking juice, finishing breakfast.
On the days when I do the morning school run and then go straight into work I feel like I have done a full day by 9.15am!
We try to use lots of strategies: “now, next” boards, signing, encouragement, giving Star a choice where possible, but there are some days when nothing seems to work.
At school, they have similar issues. And it was strangely therapeutic for us to hear experienced teachers tell us how they had used all the strategies from the professionals (the Ed psych, the SALT, the SENCO) to no avail.
We were sat at parents evening to be told of a morning when Star would not stop playing with the mud kitchen.
For forty-five minutes she had been happily scooping mud from one ladle to other and she didn’t want to stop.
Her Teaching assistant tried everything.
The sand timer.
The now and next board.
Then the teacher was called
And then, Headteacher was called out of a meeting.
She came in her high heels down to the reception playground, to tell our daughter it was time to stop playing with the mud.
And what do you think Star did ?
Completely ignored her.
Another day at school, another transition. She was asked to do something she didn’t want to. So she ran into the toilets, locked the door went under the cubicle to the next stall, locked it too, sat in the far corner and LAUGHED at the teacher. [It is a mark of how much Star has changed me that instead of being completely mortified by this defiance, I thought – that is actually really clever. She had managed to get the only place in the reception classrooms where they could not reach her.]
So I think you can imagine why, with some trepidation, we set off on our journey of one overground train, two underground trains and half a mile walk.
On the whole Star did pretty well.
On our way home, we decided to board a double-decker bus for three stops to save the children’s legs from more walking. They were so excited to climb to the top and watch the hustle and bustle of Islington High Street below them.
We tried to prepare Star that we needed to get off soon.
But predictably, it was far too short a trip on the top deck for her.
Some of us had made it to the pavement, when the bus driver was about to pull off with an unhappy Star and Eddie still on the top deck. My sister-in-law alerted the driver to wait and Star was told us with some urgency
“We need to get off now, Star.”
At which point she turned around and addressed all the passengers of the top deck of the bus