How can you tell if Moglet Number 2 is listening to you? Short answer, you probably can't . In fact he gives out all the signs and symptoms of actively NOT listening - fiddling, fidgeting, slumping, spinning, etc, etc.
But take the time to ask him "What did I just say?" - often in a voice thick with exasperation and just a hint of sarcasm, if I am honest- then at least 80% of the time he can tell you.
And so it was right through Pre-school and on to 'Big' school. It freaked everyone out every time!
So Moglet Number 3 ( another blue one!)arrived. And he was different again. Laid back and cuddly, but not keen on kisses. A bum shuffler, who cost us a fortune in trousers and washing powder, he loved trains and had a serious houmous habit!
He was followed two years later by Moglet number 4, a pink one!! A young lady born with her eyes wide open in every sense, who sent us on whole new adorable learning curve!
With four children under 6 years, a family who lived a goodly distance away and a husband who worked away a reasonable amount, life was pretty full on. I allowed any concerns I had had about Moglet #2 to be locked away and I got on with surviving.
He started school and it was OK. It was more than OK, he loved it. In Nursery and Reception he consumed the messy play areas, outside play, sand and water. The sensory seeking theme continued. There were many comments about his over enthusiasm in the water tray and numerous "I bumped my head today!" stickers. When he broke his nose in his first week in reception, tripping over his own feet and head planting the Tarmac, my old doubts began to resurface.
His teachers weren't unsympathetic, but there was that phrase again "Let's wait and see. He's probably just a boy! After all he is very bright!"
And that was true. He was very bright. He was like a sponge, he collected facts like he collected dirt, willingly and easily. He asked interesting questions and took it upon himself to find the answers. He also learnt to read very quickly. For a boy who liked to be doing, his enthusiasm for books was surprising but very welcome.
We come to writing... Writing happened, slowly! Let's say it wasn't his favourite! But he managed. It was poorly formed, untidy and quite large. And it improved very slowly. By year 2 we were hearing things like "If only he could get down on paper what's in his head!" Alarm bells! "But it's very common with boys." Alarm bells quieten!
Looking back now, with that wonderful gift of hindsight it was all so obvious! Except it wasn't- life was busy and we were busy living it.
But back to hindsight, all those quirks of toddlerhood were still there, clumsiness, messiness, but now add in forgetfulness and problems with organising his self. All a lot worse when he was tired, which was becoming more frequent. Since starting school and his brain really kicking in, a chronic inability to fall asleep had raised it's very ugly head. It seemed the busier his brain was in the day the harder it was to switch him off at night.
We would have a full on physical day, and some well meaning soul would say to me "He'll sleep well tonight!". On good days I would smile politely, on bad days I would grunt!! If only! The thing was Moglet #1 was a notoriously early riser, frequently singing along with the dawn chorus. So both ends of the day were stretched to their limits. I was tired- well, a bit beyond tired if truth be told. I remember one rainy New Years Day at my In laws house, lying on the bed with Moglet #2, watching Tractor Ted in a desperate attempt to keep him still. I remember thinking how was it actually possible to be that tired ! So tired that even my hair ached!
I was on my knees, so when the doubts started to creep back in I was just too tired to deal with them.
But they did creep back in and slowly I started to face them. The problem was that on paper he was progressing. The school he attended was reasonably large and it had quite a sizeable SEN cohort, no particular reason, just one of those quirks. They were stretched and trying to get them to look at my boy based on a 'feeling I had' wasn't going to happen. I had no real evidence that Moglet #2 should be seen or assessed other than I felt he wasn't doing as well as he could or should.
Then, suddenly, the progress in writing slowed to a halt. Two things happened, one, they started joining up their letters. He couldn't - every small thing he had grasped about letter formation flew out the window when he tried. Secondly, he had reached the stage where his writing needed more development to move up the next sub level. It needed more content, needed to be longer, more WOW words etc etc.
Moglet number 2's handwriting was legible if he took his time but ask him to produce a work of Shakespeare and it detoriated so badly it became unreadable.
Suddenly there were more and more discussions between ourselves and the school as to why things weren't moving forwards. Why wasn't he making the progress we knew he was capable of ?
"It's just Moglet #2. He'll get there in his own time!"
"It's not uncommon for boys."
"He is a great reader. Writing is just taking longer."
And to be fair we didn't push too hard. I was still happy to be convinced that everything was fine.
But I was becoming more sure, deep down there was something. By this time I had returned to work and my SEN radar was back in gear and starting to twitch, but it was operating in a thick fog.
The honest truth is that I was too emotionally involved to be objective. I just couldn't join the dots and find the answer.