Eddy (Marjolein’s stepfather) paid us a visit on the 1st and then we took the boys on the traditional New Year’s beach walk. This year they amazed us by staying (fairly) dry.
On the second Falco went and stayed with his friend T. and we played on the Wii with the other two boys. The Wii was my birthday present back in November and naturally was welcomed enthusiastically by the boys. We have all discovered that playing Wii Tennis is actually quite demanding. Falco also Wii-d fearsomely at his friends place: hence the rosy red cheeks.
On the third there was an open sports day at the local sports centre and the boys got to try out a whole bunch of sports: they had a great time but were not convinced by any one thing.
The last weekend before school we treated ourselves to a babysitter and (efficiently) saw two films back-to-back. One was a “Dutch Blockbuster” of which there is an English version under the name “Love Actually” and the other was The Golden Compass. We had some trepidation seeing the latter as we were very, very fond of the books and, with the notable exception of Lord of the Rings, have almost always been horrified by how they were translated into film (I cannot forgive what was done to “V for Vendetta” for instance) but it was a reasonable adaption. The books are still better of course.
One of the people Marjolein respected on her favourite blog (as in she has been involved and a contributor for almost three years) was an American soldier serving in Iraq. He was the first soldier to die in 2008, so she had a period of grieving. His death became rather famous in the US and the Internet as he left a very moving but dignified “last post” to be published in the event of his death. It was a strange end to the holidays, particularly with the worry of starting Falco and Daniel at a new school.
Falco was ill the first week, we had thought his tummy ache was nerves but he had a bad bout of diarrhoea too. Not the best start for him, poor soul. He has only had one playdate and is not yet at ease, but that took him some time at his old school too: he is less flexible in that than we imagined. Teacher said “it was as if he was not used to listening” and his classmates found him rather cheeky to teacher (sigh). His teacher is a sensible sort and is gradually reining him in. We must wait and see how things go when he is more settled.
Daniel is also not entirely happy, which was to be expected; but he has had four different play-dates and got invited to a birthday party, so socially he is doing pretty well. He is rather nervous about nakedness and does not want to shower with the others after gym, which this school (reasonably enough) insists on. We will have a talk to the teachers and see what’s to be done.
Matthijs is in Sensory Integration Therapy now… which is intended to adjust his responses to his senses. Some children are very sensitive of insensible to touch or sound, which can cause them to react too strongly or insufficiently to that kind of stimulus. Matthijs, who spends lots of time hanging on things and bouncing off people is seemingly a bit “deaf” to the tactile channel. The therapist went and observed him at school and was shocked to see that the boy who was so lively and involved in her sessions seemed to switch off entirely at school. She said he was entirely disconnected, almost autistic. That is a scary word, but for me in this case it just represents Matthijs withdrawing from a situation that does not interest him.
Marjolein once again broached with school that we had agreed to have Matthijs assessed again and we got into a tremendous haggle about who should do it. School, specifically the head, chose someone very oriented to their concerns who seemed not to serve the parents or the child at all and we drew a line (after Marjolein had extensively researched the reputation of this person via the Internet). It got quite grumpy for a while, but we remained adamant and they finally folded and we found an organisation that was acceptable to both sides.
School is looking for some kind of handy diagnosis, they want a magic wand that will make it easy for them and they would obviously like a label that they can get a subsidy for: if a kid has ADHD for instance the school can get a bit of budget for giving extra attention to that child in class. We are more concerned with finding out what Matthijs needs in order to be happy at school. We suspect that he is bright but slightly unbalanced in his handling of information. Presenting things to him differently and more stimulating class work could make a huge difference. We will see what the assessor says.