Mog attends our local special school. The hours are 8.40 - 3.10 daily; she leaves by bus at 8.30 and is dropped off first at the end of the day.
Little Fish attends our next-to-local primary school. It is the perfect school for her, and is about half a mile away. Its hours are 8.45 - 3.10, daily.
Anyone spot a problem there?
The mornings work just fine, most of the time, when Mog's not unwell or unable to sit in her wheelchair. The lie-flat chair will help with keeping her comfortable for both of those reasons as we do the morning dash,.
But I can't be at school collecting Little Fish and at home meeting Mog. Mog rides in a bus with seven other pupils, four of whom are wheelchair users. I'm not exactly sure how the driver manages to load eight children, clamp four wheelchairs down, and still manage to be here by 3.15 most days, but he does. Some days the bus is here at 3.10. And, sometimes there's the inevitable delay, a child needs the loo or doesn't want to get onto the bus or is throwing shoes at the driver, and so Mog doesn't land back here until a bit later.
I have to be here to meet Mog; she can't just sit on the doorstep waiting for us. And we have to keep Mog's transport time down to a minimum, as the escort staff don't give medication or do suction.
We live too close to Little Fish's school for transport to be provided automatically. There are no accessible buses going her way, and no company wants to do the job for the money they'd get for such a small run. We've advertised for parents walking our way who might be interested in letting her tag along with them for a small fee. We've approached local childminders. Little Fish's TA walked her home for a while, but had to stop as this meant she missed out on planning time and class staff meetings. As LF's key liaison, it's important she is at those meetings.
So, I've been collecting her early. Running home with her, racing Mog's bus back. And it's worked quite well. It's not ideal; she should not have to miss out on the end of her school day to meet her sister's needs, but it's meant she has been able to get home, have a few minutes to play before starting the whole tea and evening routine thing. It's not been perfect; when Mog's ill LF can stay on at school but then I have to drag a poorly Mog out again to collect her. And LF objects to having to the early departure from the place she loves so much. But it has more or less just about been workable.
It's also been understood this was a temporary solution. With the hope that transport would be available next year.
And now it appears that not only is transport not going to be available next year, but that it is no longer acceptable for LF to be missing school. And she must not be collected early any more. Which is understandable, except that I still can't be in two places at once, and if I could find someone else willing to do the walk, I'd already be using them.
So it seems we have two options, neither one really acceptable. Little Fish can hang around in the classroom and I can collect her late. This is a really kind offer from the staff who support her, and I do appreciate the thought. But it means she gets to watch everyone else leave and then wait. And if Mog's bus is on the slower side, it means she gets to wait and wait and wait. And I can see the support staff getting tired of that. It means we won't get home until later ourselves, which means she won't have time to play before needing food and her evening stuff. And it means that I will have to grab Mog from her bus and trundle her straight off to meet LF, not ideal if Mog gets off the bus in a bit of a state, not great for Mog if she's ill, and not wonderful if it's raining.
Or, we can try and get Little Fish into the afterschool club. Which is expensive. And we'd either be paying for a session we didn't fully use, or be picking her up even later than needed. Every single day. It's mainly for children of working parents, and priority is given to these children. So there probably aren't spaces anyway. And she'd still be late home, she'd still have her evening truncated, and Mog would still have to turn out to collect her.
It's a twelve minute walk with Little Fish, faster if you take her wheels out of gear and push, but that's like taking one of her classmates and shoving them in a buggy. How can it be this difficult to find a solution?
I'm thinking about finding one of these
which might shave precious minutes off the run. If I could be sure Little Fish were always the first out every day, if she could be released as soon as the others go to collect coats, if we could load her faster than we can into the bus, if I could know for sure Mog's bus wouldn't begin to be loaded until ten past, oh and if I could justify the £6000 asking price, that is.
But apart from that I think it's either TARDIS or cloning.