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.





Every Wednesday Oscar’s school has Shop. Shop is their version of canteen. Each class comes in an orderly fashion and the kids can buy some lunch or a treat.

Yesterday was the first time I helped out and as the boys’ primary school doesn’t have a canteen I was pretty darn excited.

Along with four other mums we got the various offerings ready and then the kids came.

Oscar’s class and some of the girls in it who know we were positively apoplectic with excitement about me being there and well, it was just an awesome experience.

These kids. With all their challenges and deficits and impediments and whatever other speed hump their body and mind decided to throw at themselves. Up at the counter. Saying hello, saying who they were (so if they’d ordered something we knew to get it) and then working out the correct money to hand over. Mr B and each classroom’s aide were there helping them if need be.

I just felt like my heart was going to explode and turned to one of the other mums and said as much. Then made a comment about what a special place this school is.

And then proceeded to cause both of us to burst into tears.

So while M from 9M was trying to hand over the correct coinage for his sausage roll and strawberry milk I was facing the other way frantically fanning my face and wiping away tears.

Because I’m an absolute idiot for this place.



Big night in

Tuesday saw us at Oscar’s school – St Edmund’s – for its annual Big Night In.

This is an annual event when parents of the students meet with their child’s homeroom teacher to hear about the curriculum and various routines and other matters of classroom business.

Then there are two sessions when you can go and hear about what is happening in a specific subject area, be that technology, woodwork, work placement and so on.

Then there are drinks and nibbles and then a sit-down dinner with some speeches but really, just the chance to meet (in the instance of the Year 7 families for the first time) the other parents in the class and your child’s teacher in a less formal arena.

One family runs a mobile pizza business so they donated their services, another has a yoghurt business so they donated mini tubs of yoghurt for dessert while another parent sourced all the wine. Families brought in salads for each of the tables and other slices to go with tea and coffee.

Each table was decorated with balloons – Year 7 tables had purple, which seems so appropriate as it’s Oscar’s favourite colour.


I know you all know exactly what this night was like.


A night full of wonderful wonderful families, all basking in the knowledge of this remarkable treasure that is this school for their special kids. Families willing to give and give some more – be that time, be that their skills, be that whatever is needed – to ensure this remarkable place keeps on for children well into the future.


I can safely say I have never ever felt a part of something so special. The support I had from all of you through Oscar’s surgeries last year comes a very close second. In fact, probably equal billing. And actually it is a tie with the donations that have come in for Team Oscar.
I’ve been trying to write this post all week but you know what, I guess I just have no words. Just a deep deep gratitude, love, appreciation and absolute treasuring of what we have in our life.


No words. Just thanks.


End of an era

In two days time an era for this family will come to an end. A major chapter in Oscar’s life will finish as a whole new exciting one begins.

Starting school for a child with additional needs is a monumental undertaking. We started a good 18 months out from when it would finally happen. We desperately wanted him in a wonderful program offered by a specialist special needs primary school in a satellite class at a school literally a few blocks from our home. An anxious wait ended beautifully with two fabulous years in a program called Start Right. Indeed.

And yet, we had barely drawn breath and relaxed with that decision that the whole process had to start again with finding the best school for Oscar to then transition to. Unbelievably that school ended up being our local public primary school. He started there in Year 2, aged 8. (and look at how dinky and cute Felix was on his first day of school too!)

To say this school has gone above and beyond is an understatement. This school has treasured Oscar. They have seen him as ‘just’ another student in his year group all the while making the adjustments and allowances so many schools and anti-integration voices say are impossible. He has had the same opportunities and experiences as his peers plus more. He has been taught, loved and celebrated just as any child should be. They have regularly taken my breath away with their can-do attitude and soothed my worried heart through their zero-tolerance approach to bullying and their capacity to celebrate Oscar’s achievements as the Everest they sometimes are for our boy.

Tonight was Oscar’s Year 6 Farewell Dinner. This is a wonderful evening at the school, where the Year 5 and Year 6 students get all dressed up and have a good time.

I had been marvelling how unsentimental I’d been feeling about Oscar finishing primary school. I had put it down to the fact that Felix will still be there and Jasper is starting there next year. And then this happened:

Oscar’s Year 6 Farewell Dinner presentation from Kim at allconsuming on Vimeo.

I think it was the cheering that did it. Or maybe how he bounded up there. Who knows but once that happened I was a blubbering mess. Through the tears and snot and breaking voice I managed to get the teachers and Aides of Awesome who have taught Oscar at the school:

Our life? Full of wonderful people.

On more important matters…

Yesterday my biggest boy turned nine. 9. NINE.

its been quite a ride.

but his joy has kept me going every.single.step.of.the.way
I love you my beautiful Ogga Boy. May the world always be as big as your heart is as full of love.