So my son has just moved to a new school: Mile End School in Aberdeen. Actually, two schools will be moving and merging: Beechwood and Mile End. The building they are moving to is brand new, but on the site of the old Beechwood, a special needs school. The old Mile End school is down the street, but will soon be gone. The Beechwood students moved to the new Mile End last week, and the "old" Mile Enders will be moving over Easter. Confused yet?
Anyway, Beechwood is where Adam started his school career and has gone for the last eight months. In fact, he's only ever been in a special needs setting, so this move is probably scarier for me than for him. At Beechwood he was in a small pond of about 50 students. Now he will be in an ocean of 450 students. That's right, his school of 50 is merging with a school of 400. I think everyone is a little nervous! So far, though, the Headteacher, teachers, staff and parent council have done a wonderful job, and I can't say enough good about them.
Apparently, naming the new school posed quite a problem, one which I wasn't aware of until Friday. To me, the new name just means that I have to think of Adam as one of a bigger, wilder and more able group of people. I have to let him be part of a setting where I'm not sure he'll fit in or succeed, where he might well get lost. This is hard to do when he's been sheltered by the Beechwood name for so long. But I might as well get used to it: he's not a Beechwood student anymore, he's a Mile End student now.
We went to a fun day at the new school yesterday, organised for the annual Sports Relief charity. It was great, another (relatively) sunny day to explore the beautiful new school. Aberdeen city council put a lot into this school, partly because it's a flagship experiment in merging two such different populations. Yesterday was my first real experience of this experiment, since the schools have not physically merged yet.
Adam and his brother were exploring the soft play room when a group of "big" boys poured in. Suddenly Adam and Caleb were tiny and fragile, liable to be run over by their bigger Mile End counterparts. Despite my nervousness I enjoyed meeting the boys, and introduced them to Adam, telling them they'd be school mates after Easter. They seemed ok with that. One boy asked "is he disabled?" and I appreciated both the fact that he asked and that he was relatively sensitive about it. My only answer was 'yes'. I'll have to let that be enough for now.
So Adam will be part of this crowd, the race-running, football-playing, rope-skipping, Irn-bru drinking crowd. It's exciting, and scary.
Immediately after the fun day we went to a local church where a Causeway Prospects group is now meeting every third Saturday. Causeway Prospects is a group who seeks to bring people with disabilities into the church and do church with them. It's great, but what a polar opposite world to the one we had just left!!
We had a great time being church together, being noisy and real together. Still, though, I find that I have a hard time letting go--when the leader says "feel free to move around and make noise", I still find it hard to let myself relax. I'm so programmed to follow a certain set of rules, and expect Adam to follow them, that even when they are removed I'm still constrained. Luckily though there are others there who don't have that problem, and I'm hoping to learn as much as I can from them.
Well, that's it for now. More tomorrow about yesterday, I guess.