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This term has been a big one for my school kids. There’s been so much on every week, culminating recently with their athletics carnival and education week concert. Both very important but inconveniently placed on consecutive days.
It meant a lot of changes for my boy and he is not a fan of change.
As I had to work both mornings, I tried to do the right thing and go through the schedule with him so he knew when to expect me. I was going leave work at 12pm so I could be with him and Matilda at the start of Lunch 2. I would miss the first session of the carnival but I would still get to see their novelty races.
It was all good…except I was held up at work and got to the school late.
I meant to ring to let the office know but I didn’t think I would be that long at first. By the time I realised how late I was I just wanted to get there to console him. I knew instinctively that he would not be coping very well.
And I was right. He had been in full meltdown for an hour by the time I finally arrived. He was not at all happy with me and it took some time to calm him down enough to collect his things and find his sister.
By the time we made it down to the gully where the novelty games were being held everything was pretty much all over. I saw Matilda get her ribbon for participation but I missed her events.
I felt absolutely terrible for both of them.
So, I did what all mothers do when they feel sub-standard.  I took them out for afternoon tea and tried to make up for not being there as I should have with a pie for Gilbert and a chocolate cupcake for Matilda.
Already out of sorts, Gilbert was not happy with the length of time it took for his meal to arrive and decided to grade the cafe for their effort. In the end they scored a K- (no, I didn’t realise that was a valid grade either!) which he very politely let them know when they collected his plate.
The waitress was so struck by his grade and his polite explanation of how he had arrived at it, that she felt compelled to offer him a mini-muffin as compensation.  Well, the customer is always right, aren’t they?
He left the cafe a lot happier than he had arrived but I still felt pretty ordinary. I was determined to not disappoint them again the next day and made sure I was careful not to set a time for my arrival at the school for the concert. I wouldn’t make that mistake again.
I arrived at the school as they were having lunch and enjoyed some time with them before the concert. I fully expected that Gilbert would not perform, particularly after the upset of the day before, but I made the attempt to encourage him to stay with his class anyway.
To my surprise he agreed to sit with his class while the parents were ushered to the hall for the concert. I expected to be called out at any time during the concert to be with him but, contrary to my expectations, I enjoyed the rare experience of sitting through the entire show, uninterrupted.
I was stunned when his class came up to perform and he walked out with them, finding a place in the back row. Even a discussion with one of his classmates that saw him having to move spots didn’t faze him. He remained calm and composed and waited quietly with the others.
He wasn’t the most animated or talented of the performers during the number but the mere fact that he was there, with his mainstream peers, on stage, in front of an audience of strangers, brought tears to my eyes.
I can’t even come close to explaining how I felt. I just know that it was so unexpected and wonderful and sweet and inspiring and overwhelming. Gilbert has never enjoyed performing and has a history of needing to be with me when he knows I’m around. So his effort that day, especially after the disappointment of the day before, was simply amazing.
I can’t forget Matilda’s efforts either. She was a zombie princess in her class performance and was definitely one of the most animated performers on stage. Unlike her brother, she loves performing and excels in drama so she was definitely in her element on the stage. You could not have found a prouder mum anywhere in the world that day!
I learned a few lessons that week. I learned that it sucks to disappoint your kids. I learned that K- is a legitimate grade. I learned that it never gets easier to juggle work and home. But most of all, I learned (yet again) that I should never, ever underestimate my kids.

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