Team Oscar: the year in review

I don’t think I could exaggerate what a tough start it was to 2012 for Oscar. Watching New Years Eve fireworks from a Mona Vale Hospital bed was not on anyone’s agenda and the fact we were back there for 12 days in April/May was a curve ball that took both of us months to recover from.


Do you remember the April/May stay? It was really the beginning of my downfall into the abyss that is chronic depression and anxiety. I keep going back to those posts because now? A mere seven months later? I am not there anymore and indeed am so far from that place I need to keep checking it ever happened at all.

But this year has been challenging. Parenting a 14 year old with an intellectual disability is HARD. There’s anger and energy – physical, emotional – that needs to be channelled somewhere, SOMEHOW, but as to where and how is something every parent of a teenager with a disability wrestles with

At Oscar’s School of Awesome presentation day last week the Principal spoke of exactly that. How once these kids hit high school you basically throw out all the strategies you used in early intervention and primary. It is still about communication and relating to others and all the rest but as a teenager? There is so much more at stake. Friendships come centre stage, how do you negotiate those relationships as well as all the hormones. There is violence and aggression. My GOD when Oscar loses it… the little guys are SCARED.

I mostly handle it badly. I mean, how do you treat someone like a teenager when they are essentially still a kid? How can I give him responsibility and rights and privileges when he can’t/won’t dry himself properly out of the shower. When every.single.night you have to oversee the going to bed routine or face a wet bed in the morning? When he can’t do up his school shorts or tie his laces?

I have had a lot of quiet despair this year about being Oscar’s mum. Knowing he’s at a school which comprehensively understands that makes it all a little easier.

Last weekend Oscar went to the Ignation Children’s Holiday Camp at Riverview. Four days, 30 kids with a physical or intellectual disability aged between 5 to 15. Free to families and sponsored by the Sony Foundation. Sometimes things come your way that restore your belief in the human condition to be nice to each other.

The most remarkable and heart-exploding part of all this is that students who have just finished Year 12 volunteer to be a part of it and are buddied with one of the kids for their entire stay. I’m presuming they’d already gone off and been carefree foolish teenagers on schoolies but I suspect these young adults are a bit of a special breed. Let’s say hello to Tom:

Oscar and Tom
Oscar and Tom

Tom just happened to be Head Boy at Riverview. He wants to be a doctor. Our HSC (school leaving results) came out today and he was in the honour’s list for five subjects. Yeah, Tom is probably going to be cure cancer, become Prime Minister and establish world peace. (Can you imagine being his parents. Dear GOD if they are not so proud of him their hearts explode daily… although I do wonder if he puts his dirty washing in the laundry and is, at least on occasion, a complete shit to his little brother.)

For four days he and Oscar hung out. They went on a ferry, which Oscar got to steer. They went to the aquarium, seemed to swim for about 10 hours a day, went for a ride on a Harley Davidson, dressed up as Batman for a disco and myriad other things. They made it to the nightly news:


Oscar came home with a scrapbook Tom had compiled for him which ended in a letter he wrote to us. Dude is SO going to be a doctor with THAT handwriting. This is a snippet:

I have discovered much about myself over the last few days and in Oscar I have seen the raw beauty of the human spirit.

From the roughest and most challenging of starts, 2012 came good.




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  • I could not love him more. (Oscar, I mean.) (And you.) (And maybe this Tom child as well.)

    • Dude, I just added the you tube clip of them when they made one of our nightly news bulletins! Oscar is there on the right, looking like a bouncer. He bought the sunnies with Tom. Loving himself SICK. Clearly.

  • Chantalle Taylor

    What a wonderful blog, Kim. I always enjoy reading it, as it is so you. Honest, open, raw, funny and very human. You can be very proud of yourself and your five boys. Merry Christmas and a absolutely stunning 2013!

    • Hey Chantalle, thank you so much. Can you believe we’re all still standing 14 years later! Amazing.

  • That melted my heart..and the tears that have hovered most of today are freshly arriving. I remember this year for you so well…..and its aspects that affected your health. THIS has been an amazing way to round up the year. Thank GOD (whomever she/he/it is) for these events of awesome charity where the doctor to be learns from the dude who’s Oscar. Great stuff, Kim. D x

  • Oh Kim. So hard to read this, so thankful that you wrote it. Had tear-filled eyes at the end x just beautiful x

    • I guess, for me, stumbling along while making so many mistakes and then still standing at the end – I hope others read it and go, OK, maybe I can do this…

  • Beautiful post. How wonderful for both Oscar and Tom and what a wonderful end to the year for you all.

  • Oh the tears. Just brilliant all round.

  • Pauline

    Thank you for your honesty and for your writing. Here’s to a different 2013. x

  • WooHoo – see ya 2012…..2013 – bring it on!

    Good things happen when people give a shit – LOVE the sunnies. x

  • It’s been a rotten year but whoa, what a way to end it! Beautifully written and I think you’re an AMAZING Mum. And just quietly I’d like to kidnap Tom and have him live with us for a while, If just one of my three sons turns out like him I’d die a happy Mum.

  • Oh god. crying.

  • Megan

    I’ve never met a Tom I didn’t like. They are always awesome. Beautiful post. Thank you. x

  • The world waits for Tom…and Oscar too!

  • paola

    Hope is not lost, see? There ARE wonderful people. They’re among us!

  • Crying. This is BEAUTIFUL. Wow … Kim you are an amazing mother and wonderful writer. Thank you for sharing your beautiful ways.

    Fwiw …. and of COURSE I do not know for one second what it feels like to parent a special needs teen … when my stepson Tim became a teen, the game changed. And I struggled, and thought my struggles were because he was my “step” kid. But it was sometimes because he was just being an ARSEHOLE and parenting ANY teen is hard! I just hadn’t done it before so kept second-guessing.

    I strangely felt relief knowing that Max and Rocco are going to be arseholes too! And so will Felix, Jasper and Grovey!

    (Hope that makes sense, in no way do I want to diminish what you experience with Oscar xx)

  • Wow, many a times I start to lose faith in humans and their understanding of kids, this made me so very happy x

  • OMG, how amazing is that Tom? Jeepers. I’m so proud of him and he’s not even my kid!

    Beautifully written post, Kim. Oscar will continue to rock those sunnies (and life) in 2013, especially as he has you in his corner. I’m so glad you have the School of Awesome to back you up too – I find places like that (and the amazing students and teachers in them) to be nothing short of inspirational!

    Peace and joy to you and your family this Christmas, lovely lady – you’re one of the good ones xxx

  • Dani Green

    You are an amazing woman thanks for sharing these words with us, I was tearing up like everyone else.
    The school I work in also works with the Sony Foundation Camps and EVERY single student of ours that participates, says it changes their lives – a complete transformation even in the most self conceited little so and so….
    I am always amazed how simply “caring for others” brings out the best in people
    Have a top Christmas and a great New Year! X

    • You too lovely lady, and how great your school runs/offers thast for students.

  • Ruby

    God bless Ignations

  • Laura

    Kim. Beautiful. May you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

  • I can not thankyou enough for this beautiful beautiful post. As a mum of three boys aged 19,6 and 4 who are all living with autism as well as other conditions to add to the deal I can not say how touched I was by your post. For two main reasons; firstly to know that I am not alone in the feelings you so perfectly expressed about raising a teenager with a disability but also Tom and the fact that there are some amazing, empathetic and selfless people out there that are ready to step up to the plate and be there for our kids. Thankyou again and I hope you have a wonderful new year. Much love.

    • Oh my, I am of the firm belief that *just* knowing there are others who get it and that you are not alone is hugely important. And yes, there is infinite comfort – and joy – in knowing the likes of Tom exist.

  • oh! you are SO in my tribe of peeps.How did I not know that?

    My girl is 23, dialled back a lot from Oscar but in the zone!

    Some years do suck, but its great to know they can improve. And the benefit of having a blog is that we can look back and see the places we are no longer ‘in’. I am so glad I am not in 1990, 1992, 1994, 2002 or 2003 again. What is the plural of annus horribilis? horribili? Anyway, they are outweighed by the years and months in which we are NOT in them!

    • You are so right. This year is going to have its challenges for Oscar – there’s no way we’re going to avoid surgery after 3 rounds of cellulitis in his left foot in 12 months but I think I’m softer now, not railing against it all so hard? Not beaten down, not resigned to it, just easing in to the discomfort.