Fortunately Daniel got over his chickenpox and other problems of last month and was his old (stubborn/cheerful/intense) self. That was just in time because my cousin and her husband came to visit us. It was great to see them and the monsters put on their best behaviour and charmed their socks off. We were forced to conclude that our children watch a lot of DVDs when Matthijs stopped me talking to him (he needed to go to the toilet) by saying “Pappa, can I put you on pause please?”.

The next Monday Matthijs went down with the chickenpox: the four spots he had been sporting for the past week were suddenly joined by lots of others. Fortunately by Friday he was no longer itchy and he could go for his “try-out” at the scout troop. I took him along and noted that he was the only boy in the troop. Later on another boy appeared, Damian, a school-friend of Matthijs’. He was also trying it out for the first time. Matthijs had fun and we went back the next week but Damien decided not to carry on: he was put off by it being mostly girls. That did not seem to bother Matthijs much and he has been going ever since.

Marjolein took Daniel back to the doctor that week: he had earache and another runny ear. He got eardrops again but also a referral to an Ear-Nose and Throat bloke.

Just as Matthijs got over the chickenpox on Saturday, Falco went down with them. Poor Falco had them the worst of all: blisters all over his arms, legs, scalp and even in his ears and mouth. Fortunately he did not scratch them and they did not get infected so he had no scarring. Matthijs has three permanent spots on his chest.

In the meantime Marjolein also went in to school to tell the headmaster (politely) about our discussions with his team, that we were entirely dissatisfied and were looking at another school.

A couple of days later we went and talked to the other school. They certainly did not win on looks: it is a slightly tatty, rather old-fashioned building with a tarmac playground and a high wall round it. Matthijs old school has a big garden with trees and bushes. But these days we are lookng for differen things… We were very impressed by the team, and particularly by the deputy headmaster. He was enthusiastic, structured and in very good contact with the other teachers. He told us (and I believe it) that he had gone into teaching because he had had such a great experience at school himself and was determined to recreate it for other children. He will move into the headmastership next year when the current head retires.

His reaction to our story was neutral and professional, but he was very surprised that we had been referred to the RIAGG. His approach was that it was possible that a child would need that kind of help, but only after the school had run though a proper process. Normally he would run a six week PLAN (that word brought tears to my eyes) with goals and specific, concrete results (agreed between school and parents – oh joy) and clear ways of measuring progress. I was in love. There were all the things we had been desperately trying to get from the Bornwater school. He himself was the internal support for teachers and they discussed pupils regularly as a team. He said that the school had had gifted pupils and had run specific advanced classes for them, but that they had no specific expertise (amazing honesty) and no structural provision for advanced pupils, because the local council had not budgetted one. He did however look forward to dealing with the needs of such children with obvious relish. I was delighted. I did not need someone telling me that they had some great (but invisible and untried) plan. I needed someone who would work WITH us. It was GREAT.

We walked round the school with him and he knew the names of all the children and made specific jokes with various ones. The classrooms all had a good, cheerful but directed, busy atmosphere. We got sidetracked into the staff room by one of the teachers who wanted to show off how one of her remedial pupils had mastered adding three digit numbers and we got dragged into a presentation by group five about motor cars by another proud teacher.On the way out we met the infants (group 1/2) teacher by the playground and she asked us how the interview went. Her approach was that it was best to move Matthijs into her group straight away, so that he could acclimatise before moving into group 3 and specifically learn to ENJOY school again. Music to my ears…

We had made up our minds before we got home (short walk). Half an hour later the deputy head called and said that he had talked to the group 1/2 teacher and that they had decided it would be better to move Matthijs straight away: they had already talked to each other (amazing) and made a decision (wonderful). We were delighted. He had also already read the report from the Bornwater. There were some bad but also plenty of good incidents and he was puzzled that it did not contain any conclusions. Were they on a seperate sheet maybe? We had to disappoint him on that score, but we did say that we had already decided to move Matthijs.

So Matthijs was in the new school as of the third week of this month and we cancelled the RIAGG. It is looking good so far. Matthijs the cheerful chatterbox is back. He even spotaneously made Mama breakfast in bed, with OJ, a vitamin pill and a slice of breakfast loaf. It is not entrely easy for him: he has to insert himself into an existing structure of five-year-old “tough-guys”, but we are confident that things will work out.

He also started swimming lessons this month (though he missed the first lesson because of the chicken-pox. The first day was a wash-out because he was too shy to change his clothes in the changing room: I was stunned because I have never experience a shy Matthijs before. We offered him the option of waiting half a year for the next set of lessons but the next week he set his jaw and went in like a hero. He said that he was “stronger than his fear” and changed for swimming and went and jumped into the pool without blinking an eyelash.Tough little guy…

If we were not proud enough Matthijs has also started being elaborately polite and considerate: after we had had a big fight about whether he could play with his computer or not he addressed me at the dinner table with “Papa, I am sorry I was so angry with you, perhaps we misunderstood each other”. That is quite scary from a 5-year-old.

Daniel is still “pushing the envelope”. I remember Matthijs being pretty unbearable shortly before he was four: definately time to start school. Unfortunately he is currently testing peeing in his trousers as a “lever” against us. Marjolein was upstairs doing the laundry when he did it last time and he came sloshing up the stairs shouting “Mama, I want to look at your face so I can see if you are cross”.

Daniel started speech therapy this month. The therapist says that he has an extensive vocabulary and language skills but needs to exercise his mouth muscles. Should be easy to solve she thinks.

My mother and brother came to stay with us for the weekend, on their way down to Belgium. We tries putting all three boys together (accompanied by dire threats if they did not go to sleep). Naturally it becaume an all-night party and Falco got banished to the library on the following night.

Falco is turning into a toddler: he walks everywhere (resists using the buggy fiercely) and climbs everything. He has picked up Daniels trick of shifting chairs around to reach higher and nothing is safe. He has a pretty good vocabulary (yes, no, our names, Jimmy, notty, yogggut, nana etc). His favourite songs are.”poesje mauw” (pussycat miauw) and “See-saw” which he sings whenever he finds a see-saw or an adult with a lap.

We have him pegged for “Sporty Noyce”: he is the only one to be truly fascinated by balls. Everywhere you go he finds a ball (generally someone elses) and starts throwing it (hard and accurately, generally at my head) or kicking it around. Marjolein hopes for a basketball player but I think he has the build of a rugby player/thug.

He got a good report at the child-care clinic, long enough and heavy enough by miles, but they forgot to write it down so we have no figures…He is certainly heavy enough, but it is mostly bone and muscle: he is built like a cheerful little tank

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