So Day 2 of the holidays has passed relatively smoothly, which is just as well as I seem to have caught the traditional summer cold from my girls. Looking after 2 children full time with a thick head is never much fun and I can't wait to go to bed early myself tonight!
Day 1 was... interesting. I had signed both my girls up for a drama course, 2 and a half hours every morning for this first week of holidays. I did this after a great deal of thought - Tamsin attended the summer drama course last year and loved it, so there was no question about her going back, but I was unsure if Sasha would take part. However I did my homework; spoke to the drama course owner about Sasha and took Sasha along to a trial session during the term so she could meet the people. She did amazingly join in a little bit in that session. I also knew that a girl from Sasha's nursery would also be attending the summer course and I hoped that would help Sasha get involved. So I threw caution to the wind and put her name down, feeling grateful that the drama company were actually going to attempt being 'inclusive'!
For some reason I turned up very optimistically on the first morning, thinking I would be able to stay and settle her for just 10 minutes then leave. Well not quite. Sasha was very overwhelmed by the 'newness' of it all - huge secondary school hall to run around, along with a small inflatable castle (i.e. for decoration, not use, although that didn't stop Sasha from trying...), and around 30 children and new faces for teachers. She went into hyperdrive and just ran; it took a while for me to persuade her to sit on my knee, long after all the other children had sat down in a big circle and were introducing themselves. Things didn't improve much as there was a lot of 'circle' time - i.e. sitting listening to others and learning words and actions for a song. Never going to be a winner for Sasha. However I had discovered there was going to be a craft session, and as Sasha loves a bit of 'cutting and sticking', I used that as the carrot for staying and resisted the temptation to take her home every time she requested it. We went outside for her to explore, and then we sat (well, with a bit more running) together at the back of the room just watching all the other children be very compliant.
That probably amazes me the most these days; that other young children really are so compliant! Of course you get the chatty ones, and the cheeky ones, and the daydreamers, but they do all generally sit and follow instructions. Not Sasha. Her non-compliance is really driven by a lack of understanding and awareness - she just doesn't 'get' the fact that if all the other children are sitting down being quiet, she should too. Why should she? A very good question really.
So the craft session started late (typical, when you're desperately waiting for something...) but very quickly Sasha felt at home, despite having been led with the others to another room to do this. She specifically asked me to leave at this point, and my heart leapt, tinged with a little bit of fear... what would happen if she refused to come back to the big room with them and had a huge meltdown; how would they handle it?! There was only 20 minutes left of the session at this point anyway, so I hung around out of sight, and she came back with the others, looking for me as she did. They then played some musical statue type games. Now, whilst she is of course no good being a statue, she did want to join in and have fun, which was lovely to see.
In the afternoon I had to take Sasha for her hearing test, and I actually had tears in my eyes as Sasha sat obediently and listened for the sounds, popping a block in the box when she heard them. So different from our first experience there, where she refused to do anything at all. It showed that she is improving, and understanding is half the battle for her. Then I took both girls for feet measuring in the shoe shop (another sensory nightmare), and again, whilst there was a bit of the usual running up and down, taking shoes off shelves and even throwing the price markers on the floor (!), generally the behaviour was manageable. After that we went to the library for Tamsin to get some books out, and there was a lot more running up and down, and even some wrapping herself in a rug on the floor, but she stayed in relatively good humour and so it was much easier to deal with. Day 1 definitely improved as it went along! Until I got home and realised that the DVD I had rented for Sasha needed to be unlocked back at the library... grrrrr.
Anyhow, Day 2 was much more successful. I'm pleased as it appears my persistence paid off. Staying for the whole session was incredibly boring (and also slightly upsetting, watching all the other 'normal' children not having any problems), but although it seemed Sasha wasn't really interested, I think she was actually taking it all in. When we arrived this morning, she went happily over to the large circle, sat down with Tamsin and then told me to 'go away mummy'! So I hid in the kitchen, chatting to the owner for an hour, just to make sure her enthusiasm didn't wane. Although she wasn't exactly participating fully, and there was a fair bit of wandering round the outskirts, she joined in enough to make it fun for her. I left and had a much needed hour at home to get the washing on and tidy the usual rubbish away, and on my return I was told she'd had a tantrum about not having a Tshirt on. They dealt with it though, and she had joined in again, so fingers crossed for another good day tomorrow! Am not holding my breath for her to actually star in the show they put on at the end of the week, but you never know, she may well surprise me!
Meanwhile Tamsin has been enjoying it immensely and I was very proud of her volunteering as the first to do 'show and tell', in a big loud voice, something that doesn't come naturally to her. I was slightly amused today when she told me that she had turned down the part of Belle because she didn't want to be the one to go into the castle (??!!!) so instead she is playing 'Bimbette number 2'. I refrained from laughing, and I'm sure she'll say her 2 words with much energy. Roll on Friday!