And Now

for something completely different.

The internet, as I am constantly reminded, is a wondrous place, and filled with knowledgeable beings. I rather doubt that anyone has the precise information I crave on this occasion – odds several million to one, I suppose – but you never know your luck.

This:

is my great-grandfather, William Flood, pictured next to a bust of himself sculpted by his friend, Frederick Mancini, who owned a London art bronze foundry.

William Flood was an Irishman, born in Dublin in 1883, and was, by all accounts, a craftsman and artist of considerable talent, whether it be gilding, painting, signwriting or carpentry. He evidently had a strong streak of vagus in him, as he was prone to disappearing abruptly far overseas to work for long periods of time, leaving, apparently, a wife, children… and a note.

adore this photo: particularly the trousers (the trousers!) and the hair (the hair!).

The bust has, of course, long since disappeared; my Great-Auntie E thinks it might perhaps have gone to France. We would give half our kingdom to get it back.

Is it hiding in your broom cupboard?

Drought

I treat readers of this blog in the same way I treat houseplants: I like having them a good deal, but my ultimate contract of care concerning them seems to primarily feature neglect. I always intend to water them, mind you. My Cactus plants thrive, but the tender, fragile little delicates slump, quick or slow, into sad, inescapable decay.

Greetings, my dear Cacti! We are the prickly rare-bloomers who can hold our drink!

And I do like this blog. Love this blog, in fact. I’ve clung onto it in the chilly face of spousal opposition, counsellor criticism, and enough personal outings to fill an entire Enid Blyton book. I have to choose my subject matter rather more cautiously these days, which is, admittedly, a right-royal pair of hair knickers to wear; yet I would pay a higher price than a little sticky-tape to the cake hole in order to secure my conduit to you, my fine, proud, rigidly upstanding Cacti readers (I will cease the analogising soon, I promise. I shall submit my pet cactus to AccidentalDong.com and have done.)

Accidental Dong contender

whose words, however spikey, I value.

I have not, as it happens, been moping. I made a decision vis a vis further offspring, treated myself in delicious fashion to a long (long!)-delayed read of Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond chronicles – and that lost me a week’s sleep that I didn’t begrudge a single wink of – and went on a little holiday.

John's teeth departed his jaw courtesy of a hockey ball, btw. I haven't clobbered him with the frying pan lately.

Yes. My hair really does look like this in the morning.

I had hoped that Harry, knocked about from his bout of ‘flu, would revive a little, but we’ve brought him home as hard to handle and exhaustion-prone as when we left. I console myself, grimly, that downward spikes in behaviour with Harry often presage a development surge – and try to ignore the fact that John and I have been seething subjects of a succession of tiresomely jejune envelope-pushing swipes, for comically trivial parental transgressions against the toddler code, such as daring to proffer a sandwich containing the incorrect filling or placing the CD player on the wrong shelf.  

Enlarging, no pun intended, on the offspring topic: all systems are go for the great Yes. If I sound brief and jaunty, it’s in painful contrast to the actuality of my torturous sorry-I-could-not-travel-both thought processes, but I feel you’ve suffered enough thousands of words. My final cogitations can be loosely summed up, albeit untidily, by the Buddhist parable of Krisha Gotami (also referenced recently in a post at Glow In The Woods, an excellent website that I feel everyone should know of, at least.) which I hope I shall not be telling with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence.

Onwards. Our IF clinic demands that you have to go and watch a video about it, as well as having your photo taken before being allowed to be infertile these days. I protested, avec sharp expletives, that I have had 6 rounds of clomid, 2 rounds of IUI, 2 rounds of IVF and 4 miscarriages under my ample belt, as well as something a little livelier than a mole between my ears. I have, damn and blast it, their bloody t-shirt; I require no video-showings. Protested; to no avail. We have our Introduction to Infertility (or, whatever) video showing and an IUI cycle to look forward to in a couple of weeks. Hubba hubba.

John is particularly irked by my insistence on starting with an assisted cycle because, as he rightly says, we are not, in fact, infertile, and could likely manage an organic pregnancy all by ourselves, given a year or so. I agree: we might. We probably would. But I am nearly 36, congenitally impatient, a habitual aborter, possibly anovulatory, and all my instincts concerning Project Pregnancy scream blitzkreig

So. If I jump in: I jump.

You will, of course, my rare desert blooms, see me both before and after the flipside.

The day comes when they have to declare

I hopped nervously onto the scales this morning, and noted grimly that I had gained Shriek! pounds over Christmas. (There are three Imperial Groans in a Shriek, and roughly two Shrieks to the Ululation. 4 Ululations to the Shitload. I reckon a Groan = 2lbs.)

I’d half expected to gain more: my eating has been pretty profligate since *thinks* well, since Harry became poorly with ‘flu in the middle of December, I suppose. I become, under stress, a person with alarmingly embiggened food entitlement issues. As the ever-inspiring Cecily said recently, it’s easy to slip into “I deserve” behaviour. And it really is soooo, so sweet and easy when there’s festive biscuits, chocolate and cheese under your nose, morning, noon and – literally, because I spent a lot of ’em awake in December – night.

Stepping off the scales, I started furiously planning my assault on Mount Weight. Againagainagain. John has been nagging me to cancel my gym membership, as I’ve not been since I returned to part-time work back at the end of summer, and I was feeling grimly satisfied that I’d continued my haemorrhage of £30 a month for bugger all, after all. I was busily calculating how long it might take me to get back down to 13 stone (an Ululation+a Shriek away and my self-imposed maximum weight for beginning a pregnancy -or I will end up trampling on my own boobs when I walk waddle at the end of it) when it dawned on me that my reptile hindbrain is running (figuratively. Even my inner lizard feels podgy) before my higher thought processes have finished deciding whether to walk or not. Againagainagain. 

 Here’s the thing: Nice Consultant, having had a damn good rummage about in my innards, peered closely at everything, blitzed a wee bit of endometriosis on my left uterus, performed a polypectomy (benign) in my right uterus (that was the ‘synechia’ seen on scan, I expect and hope) and taken two biopsies that came back showing proliferative endometrium with no sign of atypia (the letter said atopia, mind you) has pronounced the Harry-Housed Uterus Of Doom, attached to my one decent-ish ovary, fit for purpose – and would like us ‘to try for a baby now.’

I stared miserably at her, sat in the plush surroundings of the local private hospital (as the NHS kindly gave me a surgery follow-up appointment in late March) and tried my best to explain to her why I have such deep-rooted misgivings. I am darkly convinced that the blood supply to my right uterus is borked. I’ve never, in the 25 years I’ve been suffering this shit, had a proper bleed from that uterus, pregnancy excepted; primordial brown-black gunk is all I ever get. (That thud you just heard was likely my father slamming the laptop lid shut in hasty recoil, btw.) My right-uterus pregnancy with Harry was successful only in that he survived with what appears to be very minimal brain damage. I started spotting at 9 weeks, and had increasingly heavy episodes of bleeding every few days, eventually accompanied by contractions. His heartbeat on the doppler was terrifying to listen to, because, every couple of hours (I spent a lot of time listening. A lot.) it would stutter, hiccup, and decrease from its gallop to a throttled set of slow – very, very slow – thuds. It was a while before Harry obliged me (and vindicated my slew of worried phone calls to my midwife – ‘your own abdominal sounds, I expect, dear’) by performing this particular trick in the presence of medical equipment operated by someone with an MD, but when he finally did, Consultants Were Urgently Summoned. Ultrasounds Were Ordered, Stat.

I had over 20 scans during my 33 week pregnancy with Harry, and was in and out of hospital like a fiddler’s elbow, but at no point was a cord or placental abnormality spotted, and I wish I’d had the presence of mind to ask for my placenta to be properly examined after birth. Harry gradually fell away from the growth charts, and was born with symmetrical IUGR. He became very unstable shortly after birth, required fully ventilating, and had atypical seizures accompanied by massive desaturations in NICU. He did not, evidently, manage to dodge all the bullets. But you know all this.

I blame my right uterus. I blame the crappy endometrium. I blame my faulty housing. It seems so inescapable to me that evidence indicative of a poorly oxygenated child, added to evidence indicative of a poorly oxygenated uterus, should equal CONCLUSION in the eyes of the medical world. How is it just me that thinks this?

And it is just me, you see. Everyone around me thinks I’m wrong about the uterus, and I am marooned by my fears, painted into a corner alone, bleakly conspicuous as the one who is expected to do all the bleeding if I am right and they are wrong, and it all goes totally tits. I am defensive, bewildered and afraid.

John has never shared my view of Right’s poor performance, stoutly citing the tally of my 3 miscarriages in Left. As far as he is concerned: only one uterus has produced a living baby; quod erat demonstrandum.

VIP Consultant was of the opinion, when we last spoke, that Harry’s difficulties are probably co-incidental.

In response to my expressed worries, Nice Consultant reassuringly (in manner. Not, regrettably, in effect) told me that the biopsy on Right is clear, and that it was a ‘lovely looking uterus!’ before she began talking about aspirin and heparin therapy and those bloody awful progesterone lard torpedos. I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to ask her explicitly while I was there, but I suspect that she would not countenance performing an expensive and quite major procedure – IVF – when there is no medical evidence, apart from my dark forebodings and probably-brain-damaged son, that it is required. Ethically grey, I think.

And, as John does not forget to point out, I swore I’d never have IVF again, in any case. I responded inversely to downregulatory drugs and gonadotrophins half the time, and it was the hormonal shock of chemical menopause that started my pesky heart palpitations in the first place.

 Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame. I am under no obligation to believe either my doctors or my husband – only pressure, of an oblique and partially self-imposed sort. If I let myself, and myself alone, take this risk – because I want another child – in the face of what I believe to be great danger, then how could I avoid great bitterness and blame to myself if my child is born severely brain damaged, or dies?

And then, of course, there is the fact that I appear to have some type of auto-immune or clotting disorder, which has, thus far, declined to be identified by blood test. My first-ever pregnancy went so very, very heart-beatingly well (right up until the point where it abruptly, unfortunately and probably-chromosomally didn’t)… and all my subsequent pregnancies have been distinctly troubled affairs, a fact which I brood upon, darkly.

I am having a lot of dark-brooding type thoughts all round, in fact, because I have a lot of reasons not to have another child. The chances of my carrying a baby to term are, we know, pretty much zero. My terror of prematurity is fairly profound. We’re not rich (and surrogacy, although a logical suggestion, is not the solution for me.) John and I are both sporting a shocking amount of grey hair lately. Harry’s behaviour, although in no way his fault, often puts our relationship under strain. Coping with a newborn as challenging as Harry, as well as looking after Harry himself, would be… an utter impossibility. My forebrain backs wildly away, waving frantic *jazz hands*.

I am firmly of the opinion that when the archaeologists dig me up in a few hundred years’ time, the fancy-pants futuristic bone-mineral-density-type scan they do of my skeleton will reveal a tree-ring of complete devastation caused to my frame by sleep-deprivation, fear and stress during that time of pregnancy and early motherhood. I dread future baby sleep-deprivation to my very marrow, because prem babies generally aren’t restful. With colic, reflux, hole-in-heart, alarming apnoeic-distress episodes at EVERY nappy change due to (what, with hindsight, was fairly sodding pronounced) sensory processing disorder, and it’s unsurprising I was so battered, that, on a couple of occasions I actually hallucinated, which was interesting and un-fun.

And, when Harry was 2 or 3 months old and breastfeeding for England every two hours, my immune system fell through the floor and I came down with the most God-awful illness; flu symptoms, multiple cold sores all over my lips, tongue and up my nose, searing 40 degree temperature… I can remember, for the first and only time in my life, wanting to die. I wasn’t remotely depressed: I just felt so spectacularly wretched in my very febrile state that I thought that I was, in actual fact, really dying, and as the inevitable was happening it might as well get a move on and stop prolonging the agony. And I couldn’t even get anyone else to have Harry, because by that stage, he was disdainfully refusing a bottle. Emptying stomach=hurts=MOAR BOOB, MUMMY! It was quite a low point, and I am pretty sure I said I’d never do it again.

I am so horribly distressed. Harry would, I think, love to have a sibling and I would likely grieve that loss of his in later life as much as my own. Being an only child has its own peculiar set of benefits and penalties. But I just can’t bring myself to step off the edge, and commit. Commit to that Right Uterus of Doom – as opposed to the Left Uterus of Slightly Higher Numerical Doom But Markedly Better Blood Supply. Everytime I try to think about it seriously, I have a nasty mental wobble, feel quite sick, start sweating and hastily push the whole idea right to the back of my brain.

The back of my brain, where the podgy reptile lives. Lizard Hindbrain has, without consultation with higher authority, ordered the repro-friendly vitamins that Nice Consultant demanded, in the loveliest possible way, we both take. (I thoroughly enjoyed John’s expression when she told him she expected him to take Well Man Conception vitamins, but my smile sank out of sight when I discovered these particular vits were £10 a month. Each!)  Plus, Hindbrain also ordered some easy-dosages of the low-dose aspirin that I am supposed to be taking already, and aren’t. Hindbrain has also had a major re-arrange of the bedroom over Christmas to facilitate the path of multiple night-time trips to the ensuite. Hindbrain has even managed – and this was quite clever of it, working unsupported – to book an IUI cycle, commencing February. And today, it seems, Hindbrain is keen for me to quickly lose some weight.

I am still bewildered. I am still afraid. I have experienced 6 months of clomid, 2 IUIs, 2 IVFs, 4 miscarriages, a stressful pregnancy, a premature and dangerous birth and serious worries, first, about Harry’s survival, and later, his health – and withstood it, as people generally do when they have to, because being entirely overwhelmed by events is seldom a valid post-Victorian option. 

I know what lies behind and I know what might lie ahead. And the ground I’m standing on right now looks pretty damn comfy, thanks. But I’m 36 next month, so it’s now, really now, or… not. There’s nothing to gain by waiting. Refusing to choose is also a choice.

For some people the day comes
when they have to declare the great Yes
or the great No. It’s clear at once who has the Yes
ready within him; and saying it,

he goes from honour to honour, strong in his conviction.
He who refuses does not repent. Asked again,
he’d still say no. Yet that no – the right no –
drags him down all his life.
CP Cavafy

Zanter

I gotta be honest: the only reason I am blogging now, right this minute, is because these little falling snowflakes I installed on my blog (they are nifty, n’est-ce pas?) are going to vanish tomorrow.

*spreads hands, looks conscious*

And I will be stuck in the chair all bloody night typing this, because it’s one of those posts that’s primarily a diary entry for me because my memory’s totally shot to shit these days, so I shall doubtless waffle on unfunnily for 2000 words, and I really quite fancied a soak in the bath this evening. Damn it.

(***Tedium and Schmaltz warning*** It’s 2284 words, and all I talk about is Christmas and Assessments and Which School To Choose? There will be honest-to-God gory reproductive trouble featuring here soon, honest.)

If you’re still with me after such an unpromising start (it doesn’t get better, sorry!): I hope you have had a very Merry Christmas indeed, and that your New Year is looking promising. My festive season wasn’t all it could have been, to be honest, for many and varied reasons – not least among them that heavy snowfall pissed most copiously over every single plan I had for the pre-Christmas fortnight. But not that it mattered in practical terms as my plans were essentially pre-saturated with the yellow stuff anyway: Harry came down with (what we assume was, as it’s currently the dominant strain and knocking kids about particularly hard) H1N1 Oinky ‘flu on the 15th. Poor little chap, he was terribly poorly for 5 days, and a long way out of sorts for another 5, not eating a vaguely normal-sized meal until Christmas Eve.

It wasn’t the easiest or most rest-filled fortnight; I had forgotten just how much Harry has developed and matured over the last 18 months – and naturally, he completely lost his grip on the greasy rope of Sensory and Speech progress, and shot helluva long way back down into febrile fretting. The poorly piglet was constantly 39+ degrees, and only shifted down a mere degree when Calpol-ed. Screaming and crying with communication frustration every few minutes, hitting us when we couldn’t understand him, frightened of cups without lids, caressingly obsessed to the point of pain (mine) with the skin tags on my inner forearms… good times. Then John caught it, albeit an attenuated form, just as Harry got over the worst. 

But my, Harry enjoyed Christmas. Nearly as much as I enjoyed blowing truly legendary amounts of Santa-related smoke up his arse. Despite being robbed of much of my planned festive build-up, he nevertheless managed to extract maximum enjoyment from present-wrapping (although his ideas on secrecy were sketchy, and keeping the details of his chosen gift to Daddy quiet consisted of him issuing John with an urgent, saucer-eyed ‘Shssssshsshshshh!’ before portentously whispering ‘Hat!’ – followed by a final ‘Shsssssh’ for good measure), tree-decorating (I let him do three branches before ordering bedtime, stat, as his haphazard bauble distribution made my inner purist all itchy) and carrot-chopping (attention all reindeer: top-quality sustenance provided at Hairy Towers). 

Christmas morning, he jumped into our bed as usual about 6am, having apparently forgotten about the whole thing (he generally stumbles to his potty around 1am so I had placed his pillowcase discreetly. 1am on Christmas Day is an inauspicious time to fall over presents and begin festivities).

Me, solemnly: ‘Did you hear Santa’s sleigh land on the roof last night? He had jingly sleighbells!’ 

Harry, reminiscent of Fawlty Towers’ Manuel: ‘??!?’

Diffidently: ‘Has he left any presents in your pillow case?’

Frozen gaze. Faintly: ‘Zanter!’

Small form slithering off the bed and a thunder of bare feet stampeding back into his bedroom. A brief silence, before the feet returned at top speed, empty-handed, vaulting back onto the bed.

Excited exclamation: ‘Yes!’

Suppressing the memory of indigestion: ‘And has he eaten his mince pie and drunk his milk?’

Repeat of frozen-gaze, thundery-feet thing. Return of the thundery-feet, even, if possible, faster than before. Vault.

Incredulous bellow: ‘YES!’

At which point he wriggled under our duvet, seemingly not having connected that the presents were, in fact, presents.

I enquired sleepily if he would like Daddy – I am not daft, btw – to fetch his pillow-case through so he could open his presents in our room?

Sudden frantic foot-proddings at John: ‘Daddy! Airzuntz here! Daddy, out! Teeze! Out! Daddy! Airzuntz! Here! Daddy out! Teeze! TEEEZE! Airzuntz!’

 And so it went on. And it went on so successfully, in fact, that when he eventually learnt that ‘Zanter’ would not be coming again until next Christmas, it ended predictibly in several episodes of tears, and stolid refusal to accept the truth. He was cheered momentarily by the promise of a handful of presents still to trickle in from outlying friends and relatives, but these latecoming gifts were not without their attending embarrassment: Harry tugging on the givers’ trousers immediately after unwrapping his gift and urgently requesting ‘Moar airzuntz teeze! Moar! Teeze!’

I haven’t blogged here much about his improving speech, as my joy would likely render me wearisome on the topic; my lack of words has been directly inversely proportional to his. Not that it is unalloyed satisfaction as such; his syllable range is still limited and his pronunciation is execrable. Instead of failing to make out individual words, we are now struggling with a flow of impenetrable sentences, and Context Is Everything.

He is discernably improving day-by-day, however, so we are very hopeful that by the time he starts school in September he will be able to converse more intelligibly.

 I waited until we had the results of his developmental assessment before deciding that Harry will be going to mainstream primary school, as opposed to moving upwards from nursery at his current special school or attending the local specialist language unit (attached to a primary school in a pretty damn mediocre part of town, although he would likely be taught in Year 1 by a lovely friend of mine), although we have left his name on the language unit shortlist for the time being. The assessment process is gargantuan, and despite being finished in practical terms, we won’t officially know until late spring if Harry has a formal Statement of Educational Need or not – but the Educational Psychologist (I accord her Capitalisation happily, she being a thoroughly clever, exceedingly non-woo-woo soul who was complimentary about my parenting – never hurts to flatter the mother, I suppose – and charmed to bits by Harry) quietly tipped me the wink that it was 95% certain that he will; his language skills as they currently stand represent a significant disability.

Harry’s special-needs nursery staff, the Ed. Psych and I have written the educational side of his assessment; for the health side, he has attended an assessment nursery 2 mornings a week for several weeks so child development advisers, physiotherapists, speech therapists, and clinical psychologists could all have a good butchers at him. (His Paediatrician was supposed to be involved but never materialised – our three month recall from our June appointment has, yet a-bloody-gain, not happened, and I need to chew someone about it.) 

I forget why, but I was in a stonking bad mood the day I was given Harry’s clinical psychology questionaire to fill in – possibly because I had discovered that parents are not invited to the whole final case-review meeting, as apparently the terminology can sometimes be confusing for them (!) and are trotted in for a 2-minute precis at the end. (You will be unsurprised to learn that after some dust-beneath-my-chariot-wheels type phone calls, I was present from the beginning of Harry’s.) Anyhoo, they gave me an Achenbach questionaire, most of which was fair enough, but about 20% of the questions drove me absolutely potty. I could, in all cases, broadly see what the question was trying to elicit from me; I merely took very marked exception to the semantics, including the US vocabulary, which was so pronounced as to actually skew the meaning of one or two questions to a non-cosmopolitan UK reader. I decided at first to play dumb, but finally, incensed by the projectional nature of ‘Does your child play with his private parts too much?’ (italics mine) I began to annotate, expostulate and comment madly over the whole tick-one-box-only document. They blinked a bit when I handed it back. 

Of course, I’d forgotten about my liberal daubings by the time the actual Clinical Psychologist tipped up the next week to formally assess Harry. Said CPsych was about my age, and, thankfully, a delightful and exceedingly acute chap, who wasn’t phased by my miffedness, and concurred that several sections could be better phrased. He then proceeded to give Harry what I thought was a very fair developmental assessment indeed (Griffiths Scales) although Harry, aggravatingly, failed to complete some of the very easiest tasks as his own imagination was supplying Better Instructions. I asked at the end how Harry did, and was vaguely concerned when CPsych explained that he’d stopped giving in-the-session broad-brush feedback, as he found it was easy to be distracted by high levels of co-operation from the child, and be misled into thinking the child had performed better than they actually had. Given that Harry’s co-operation had actually been pretty hit and miss, I had a nervous fortnight waiting for the case review meeting.

 The upshot of which was: Harry has a honking great expressive language delay, which is resolving. The physiotherapist reported Harry as having balance issues, hypermobility and low tone (Finally! A physio who isn’t blind!). I have some exercises now to help improve his core stability, but apart from that, his high activity level renders him his own best physiotherapist. The Child Development Advisers and School Fabulous all reported him as… well, pretty normal really. Cognitive skills good. Fine motor skills excellent. Happy playing alone. Initiates play with others. Enthusiastic. Social. Likes to be first: bit pushy. Has difficulties transitioning, and needs visual timetable and prompting to move him on. Concentrates very well when motivated. Flitty butterfly when not.

And I knew all that already, with the sole exception of the comment made by the centre Speech & Lang therapist, who thought Harry was very facially impassive when playing, but lighting up hugely when pleased. Sharp eyes: I watched him afterwards and she’s quite right.

The CPsych said he was a little undecided on how to score Harry’s Griffiths assessment, because he approached several of the sections very unconventionally, and it was unclear to him (although not to me!), due to Harry’s lack of speech, whether it was an issue of not understanding the instruction or simply wanting to do his own thing. He eventually scored him sternly at absolutely average for his age – Harry was 39 months, and scored 39, 40 or 41 months for every section – but gave his opinion following observation that Harry was cognitively above average.

Which was reassuring to hear. No-one can tell me, at the grand old age of 41 months today, odds on whether he will have difficulties with reading and writing or significant concentration issues, but this assessment process is the best thing I have to build the assumption on, that Harry is not looking like a strong candidate for significant educational special needs at present. Which is important, as the abilities of our local schools to meet a severe special need vary. Although meeting a Statement is a legal requirement for a school, individual funding does not necessarily accompany the Statement, as schools are already allocated a set sum for ‘educational’ special needs. This topic is a minefield, which I do not fully understand, by any means. I do not even appreciate yet if managing Harry’s language delay will essentially convey a financial penalty to a school – whether, essentially, they must rob Peter pupils to pay our Paul. The smaller the school, the smaller the overall pot available to rob, certainly.

Our catchment, closest, primary has the highest exam results in the whole county, although I’m not a huge believer in exams as a barometer. The atmos in the school is lovely, and I know several other (satisfied) parents well. The parents are predominantly wealthy villagers, or reassuringly scruffy isolated rural types like us. We were very impressed with the Head, who took a good deal of time to meet with us and address our concerns about Harry, so all in all, you’d think it would be a no-brainer for us. But we had to meet with the Head, because our first show-round resulted in a distinctly less-than-encouraging conversation with the reception teacher, who made a number of verbal mis-steps with us – although we interpreted a couple of them rather too severely, I think with hindsight. The school is tiny and the building itself very old, with several sets of steep-ish steps. The parking isn’t fabulous. I haven’t met with their SENCO. They are our only local school not to have a dedicated nearby (closely adjacent is an awfully good idea aged 4!) reception class toilet.  

Slightly further away, and with significantly evil parking, is another excellent school, a much bigger school. A richer school. Harry is just starting a split-placement in the mainstream nursery there, and loving it. We are a little out of catchment, but Harry’s statement could have gained us priority access. I don’t know the Head, except to nod at, and have heard mixed reports of her, but I know their wonderful SENCO. They have outstanding facilities: laptops, whereas most other schools have PCs. Finger-print technology (!?) for borrowing library books. Excellent Ofsted report. They have the odd set of steps, but not as many or as steep. They even have one of those rare and precious beings, a youngish, presentable, genial male teacher.

Whichever one he goes to, Harry will, in fact, receive a first-class education. It’s so close to call that John isn’t really bothered either way. I have – I think – made up my mind, and I must register him by 17th January or be in Heap Big Trouble. He will go to Catchment School that boasts the best exam results, the lovely atmos, the slightly worrying teacher, the steps he will brain himself on, and the Pennine Way to the toilets. I hope I’m doing right.

I have such frivolous, first-world worries, it’s very nearly embarrassing.

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