It's not very often that I sit down and have some relaxing time for myself, but that's exactly what I did yesterday at the Olympic Park. What a gorgeous place and amazing space they have crafted out there to welcome the world. Of course it helped that the sun was blazing and the skies were blue. Not exactly typical Britain, and it's a shame we don't get a summer full of that. Here's a couple of pics for anyone who couldn't be there:
The little extras made all the difference, and I have to take my sun hat off to the amazing volunteer games makers who were funny, friendly and motivating, and even came around with some free sun cream and baby wipes!
Sitting there all on my lonesome was lovely and peaceful, but also gave me the chance to think. I thought lots about my beautiful family and how lucky we are to all be together and happy. I also thought about how Sasha may be able to enter the Paralympic games in the future, and wondered what event she might do - running, swimming, jumping?! At this moment in time I can't imagine it at all - the crowds, the noise, the waiting around, the focus on training, having to accept that someone else might win, and not shouting 'Espera!' (which means 'wait' in Spanish, so I'm told by my little Dora) at all the others to stop so she can take the lead....
Since her return to school only a couple of days ago, I've been hit with the realisation that she is more 'behind' her peers than I thought. A list of 3-letter words came home this week which they are to get regularly as a spelling test, and it was a struggle to get Sasha to even look at it. When she did, she was still using phonetic sounds to try and sound them out. Take them away and ask her to write them down when spoken to her? Good luck with that, teacher! Not only the spelling, but the actual writing is going to be a huge challenge. The teacher gave us a talk this morning where she explained she knew they were easy words, but it was just to get the children settled and confident. It makes me sad to know that for Sasha they are not easy. Tamsin has always been naturally gifted, her work has come easy to her, and for that I am obviously very grateful. I also know that there is a wide range of ability in the class, but at this stage I'm sure it'd be true to say that Sasha is at the bottom.
Recently she has started struggling to get her words out - not a stutter or stammer, but the kind of repeating words and forgetting what to say that toddlers go through. This will undoubtedly hold her back even more. She's happy to chatter on about what she's interested in (the seasons being a particular favourite - she delights in telling me every day that it's autumn now and the leaves will fall from trees), but not so keen on two-way conversations, or passing information on.
I know, lots of children this age are similar in that. But it's just different with Sasha. The awareness is not really there. It's difficult for me to admit that, and knowing she could enter the paralympics does also bring a tear to my eye, much as I'll always be proud of my girls for anything they achieve. Sasha achieves so much more every day than some of her peers, as she struggles with the environment around her and making sense of things. Yet on the whole she is a contented, cheerful kind of girl, and I hope that will take her a long way.
Is the gap widening though, as I've always feared? Difficult to say, but what I am fairly sure of is that without some extra help, she is likely to fall further behind. A classroom environment where she is expected to listen and do the same as 29 other children is never going to be a winner for her. We are so lucky that the school is understanding and that they do their best for her, and there is some small group work involved. Only time will tell whether that is going to be enough.
I don't want to see her fail before she has the chance to succeed though. So what I think we need is a specialist individual, who 'gets' Sasha, and who can persuade her to learn outside of the school environment. Any ideas where we find that person? Answers on a postcard please!
Finally, because I don't want anyone to get the impression that I'm generally sad, here's a pic of my beautiful little girl. How could I not be happy with this?!