The first time Aunty M came to take my little Pwdin for a three hour respite session I blubbed like a baby. Hubby and I had met Aunty M and were thoroughly confident she could cope with whatever the Pwd could throw at her and we both agreed, “What a lovely lady.” Aunty M brought my boy home to me safe and sound and exhausted. The second time she took him out, I waved them off with a smile, happy that Pwd would be having great fun and that I could take care of a few things that were just impossible to get done with him around (Like hassling estate agents – were we house hunting at the time).
The little Pwdin grew fast (he keeps doing that) and it became clear that the not so little Pwdin was a bit too much for one woman. He needed two to one care and we were granted an additional three hour session on top of his existing one. In fact, apart from their Sunday morning buggy (stroller) ride to see the ducks in the nearby park, it’s rare that either hubby or I take our speedy escapologist out alone. Sadly, Aunty M couldn’t co-ordinate with any available childminders so Aunty D, Aunty P (one session) and Aunty S (the other session) were assigned the Pwd. The boy was well known to Aunty D who had covered Aunty M’s holidays. She was very excited to find out that the boy would now be her’s to care for on a regular basis.
Of all the professionals we have dealt with in relation to our precious child, these ladies have been the most valuable. Make no mistake, they are professionals. Just because they are warm and always ready to reassure a blubbing mammy, are quick to share a joke or a good old fashioned moan on Facebook doesn’t mean they are anything but professional. I’ve lost count of the times I have called on the experience of one of Pwd’s ladies, as we call them. These remarkable ladies aren’t babysitters. They have specialist knowledge and between them decades of experience with disabled children. They put all of that to good use to help with therapies, attend multi disciplinary team (MDT) meetings and even advocate on behalf of us parents and our children.
They are always ready with a story of an experience just like the absolutely crappy one you might be going through right now and can tell you it’s going to be OK. They do plenty that isn’t in the job description purely out of love of their work. When we came to the realisation that we’d have to re-home KaBoom, Aunty D returned a filthy, happy child to me and an additional big bar of chocolate. I do love it when Pwd comes home from being out with his ladies or from school messy and dirty – it’s a sure sign he’s had a ball.
Their’s is a job I could never do. Aside from my Pwdin, I’m not fond of children, for a start. The ladies and gentlemen childminders who take special needs children for respite have to know how to manage a wide range of health issues. They have to cope with challenging behaviour from the kids they look after, their parents (occasionally) and, depressingly often, from strangers whose reactions to disabled children can be, let’s just say, unkind. More than other child minders, this special and specialist group of professionals experience the death of children for whom they care. In spite of all of this, other professionals have been known to look down on these child minders. I’ve heard of an instance where, in an MDT meeting, one special needs child minder who attended, in her professional capacity to give report on the progress of a child in her care, was ordered by a paediatrician to go an look after that child’s sibling while the meeting took place.
No professional knows my child like his ladies. They know his little ways, where we are with therapy, his current and all his previous fads. As professionals they can compare him with other children and make suggestions based on what worked for those children of whom they have or had similar in depth knowledge. Of course, it would be ridiculous to expect everyone involved in Pwdin’s care to know him so well but I have attended meetings where therapists didn’t know his name and his former paediatrician couldn’t recall what was discussed at the last meeting and had no notes. These ladies, Pwdin’s ladies, are the example to be followed.
This week is National Child Minding Week. Thank you ladies for all you do for Pwd and for hubby and I. We love you.