"On Monday, 8th June," Jamie told me excitedly as he got ready for bed, "we will sing 'Happy Birthday' to you!"
"That's right!" I agreed. (It wasn't, as it turned out – in the general rush of getting dinner done and presents opened and two children upstairs to get ready for bed, we all completely forgot about the singing – but it's still very touching to have your four-year-old son remember your birthday and do so with such gusto.) "And on Thursday the eleventh of June, we are going to do three things that are different from usual. Can you remember what these three things are?" I'd been through them several times already, but wanted to reinforce the plan as often as possible before the day; Jamie deals beautifully with changes in plan as long as he knows about them beforehand, but spring them on him and there's hell to pay.
"A lady will come to nursery," Jamie recited with careful concentration, holding one hand aloft (I think he meant to count the Three Things off on his fingers, but hadn't quite got as far as that in mental organisation).
"Yes, that's right," I agreed. I'd been in two minds about whether to even bother telling him about the educational psychologist's visit, as I honestly don't think that the presence of a strange adult at nursery would be one of the things that would register on Jamie's Strangeness Radar as being disturbing and I was worried it would just give him too many things to remember, but I figured, what the hell, might as well. It had been the right decision – he was remembering all three things without difficulty.
"And then everybody will go home…"
"After nursery is finished," I interjected hastily, with visions of him expecting all the other children to evacuate the nursery as soon as he'd noticed the educational psychologist's presence and thus registered the First Thing as being done with.
He waved me to silence. "And Manda and me will stay at nursery and we might do a jigsaw or read a book. And then Mummy or Daddy will get me and I will come home and have lunch…"
"…and maybe do some playing or watch a programme," I added, wanting him to have some idea of the timing of the whole plan – Jamie was quite capable of deciding it was time to set out the instant he'd finished lunch, and it could get a little tiresome to be fielding impatient shouts for action for the next couple of hours until it actually was time to leave.
"…and then Mummy and me will go to Big School!" Jamie finished triumphantly.
"Very good, little one! You've got it."
And thus the conversation went, with minor variations, on each evening in the several days leading up to June 11th.
We also have Three Things concerning Jamie and his transition to Big School scheduled for tomorrow day, though not all of them will be the same things. Our First Thing is going to be the TISM, or Transitional Inclusion Support Meeting, the meeting held between all interested parties when a child with special needs is due to start school in order to discuss what needs to happen to smooth his transfer and how it can best be done. Some time after we get back, the educational psychologist, who will by then have spent the morning observing and possibly playing with Jamie, will come over to our house to discuss him with us (hence Jamie staying at nursery with Manda after everyone else has gone home, the plan being to allow us to discuss him without him being around)1. And the Third Thing, of course, will be the one Jamie already stated – I'm going to be going with him to spend a short period of time visiting his soon-to-be-new classroom and teacher at Big School, as the second part of a three-part induction2 (which, unlike the other Two Things of the day, is nothing to do with Jamie's special needs but is the school's normal procedure for all children prior to their start date). So that's the day's schedule planned out. I shall update you in due course.
1. Yes, this does indeed mean Manda doing overtime purely in order to babysit our son, and, yes, she volunteered. It would not surprise me terribly at this point if I were to go into nursery to find that it was bathed in a pearly iridescent glow and the staff had all grown haloes.
2. Part The First was for a parent to go along sans child for an evening meeting a few weeks back, and Part The Third, in natural progression, is for child to go along for a few visits there sans parent. Barry, who was the one who got to go to the parents-only meeting, came back with a new school bag and various paperwork and leaflets about this and that and told me that he'd met Jamie's teacher-to-be and various other people and been shown a short film about packed lunches. The film was sponsored by some group like the Flour Appreciation Society or the National Coalition of Flour Producers or something of the sort. It put heavy emphasis on bread products, with a brief branching-out into pasta.