Only a few days left at school. The Boy is in his last days at primary, the end of Year 6. It brings back so many memories of leaving primary school myself, that first nod towards the teenage years and the seemingly endless possibilities of the world beyond.
But for The Boy the transition to secondary isn't too hard. Same school, different entrance. It's just a walk across the playground. And as a result, it doesn't seem so important. All over Facebook people write about how they can't believe their children have grown up, how this day is finally upon them, the plans for leaving parties etc. But for The Boy, this is already school number four. Leaving has become as much a part of school as registration.
You see children like The Boy don't get leaving parties. Every school he's left, he's never even been given the chance to say goodbye. The irony is that the children who make the most noise leave school the quietest. Mid-term, mid-week, even mid-lesson. Almost smuggled out of the back door. A few weeks later a parent might ask, "where's such and such?". "Oh, he left", comes the reply, "it was felt the school wasn't right for him".
Don't get me wrong, I understand how incredibly difficult it can be teaching a child who can be as disruptive as The Boy, especially while trying to meet the needs of the rest of the class. I get all that. I'm not questioning the decision. But just because his friendships aren't as conventional as others, it doesn't mean they are any less valuable. Maybe, just maybe, he'd have liked to say goodbye too.
So, looking back on his years in primary education, it's a mixed bag really. The school where he lasted five weeks and only now six years on has he finally opened up about how rough they were with him; the school that continually excluded him day after day because they "needed the evidence for his statement of special needs". The school where he was sent across to the park with his teaching assistant to keep him hidden for the two days Ofsted came to visit. They've all left a mark on him like a badly drawn ink tattoo. It may well fade with time, but it will always be there.
It's not all been bad though. In amongst all that there have been individuals who have touched our lives, and in particular his, more than they could ever realise. Kind, thoughtful, incredible people who have shown The Boy patience and understanding. A child who is different, who refuses to conform, can bring out the worst in some people. But it brings out the best in so many others. There have been teachers, and in particular teaching assistants, who have been nothing short of incredible in an appalling system that makes getting additional help so bloody difficult.
So, there will be no big leaving party next Wednesday for The Boy, no emotional farewell. Secondary school will just be a different room in the same school, with the same classmates and the same staff.
Just the way he likes it.
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.