Thursday, 17 December 2009

Brrrrrr.... its minus ten this morning and the sun is shining.


Winter Images 2008, by Susie Mallett

Busy, busy, busy...

It is that busy time of the year for all of us who work in schools, or in groups with adults or children. It is also the time of year with the best opportunities to meet families and others who come in contact with our clients.

It is the time when I also enjoy all the more the social situations that I find myself in with my clients, either in public places like the Christmas Market or when I am invited to homes for Advent teas with Stollen and Lebkuchen. I use these occasions to observe the relationships in families, between carers, parents, siblings, grandparents and clients.

I enjoy observing these interactions and the reactions and compare them to when the client is working with me. When I am a guest in the home it is also a perfect opportunity for me to observe the physical layout, to see what we can work on in the group that will help specifically in the home.

I do home visits all the year round but sometimes it is easier for me to use the festive occassions for this purpose, as the atmosphere is generally more relaxed and often more members of the family are present.

I can learn much that is helpful to my work.

There are group parties planned, and trips out to play centres and to libraries for book readings, trips to the baker’s to make Christmas biscuits and to the school Christmas Market with its stalls, the singing, the traditional sausages and the mulled wine.

Auld acquaintances

The Christmas Market at the special school last week was a hive of activity. with everyone there that one could imagine. New clients and old clients, new colleagues and old colleagues, mums and dads, grandmas and grandads, physiotherapists, teachers and assistants. It was a busy afternoon and evening but there was still time to seek out the people who I needed to talk to and for the most important conversations and observations to take place.

I even found time just to hang around and chat to friends and I met a family whom I have known since I have lived here in Germany. One of my own 'Germany family' worked with them when their disabled child was a baby, and I have worked with her on and off since. She is now fifteen!

Petö pizzas

This pre-Christmas is not just a time for going out to other people’s houses or to fests in schools, it is also a time when I organise get-togethers for my clients.

On Tuesday evening it was the turn of the evening adult’s group to celebrate the festive season. We had (Pizzabacken-Petö) “pizza-baking Petö”, with an invitation to parents to join us to eat it later. A good time was had by all and it was a nice way to round off before Christmas. These adults won’t meet next Tuesday evening, as I will be doing my stint selling for children-in-need on the real, big, famous and extremely romantic, fairytale Christmas Market in Nürnberg.

Christmas past

The adults in this group are all just under forty years old. It was very interesting to hear from their mums what had happened to them at the birth of their children, and hear of complaints of no information, no incubators available and no special premature baby unit. Technology has changed in the last forty years. Even information is easier to come by, with the Internet.

They talked too about the education facilities available to choose from thirty years ago. These were slowly improving at that time but, without a car,it was virtually impossible to bring a child who used a wheelchair to school. There was no transport provided for them in those days and the trams and buses still had narrow doors and lots of steps, goodness knows why!

Christmas present

There was some physiotherapy available for these children but that too was limited. They were actually out there, lots of young mums, going it alone. Thirty-five years ago the organisation that I work for in Nürnberg was founded. It was a lifeline for these families, and here are these mums meeting up in our group, as they do three or four times each year, still giving each other moral support and encouraging their “children” in their adult lives.

Christmas is for children

On Friday it will be the turn of the littlies to have a party with a difference! An arty-crafty party.

I work alone with these children, so I have roped in the help of all the people concerned.

One Mum and a classroom assistant are practising Christmas songs and will pass out the song sheets for a sing-a-long.

Another Mum and a classroom assistant will be stationed at the arty-crafty tables to help with sticking, cutting and painting, and the creating of everything that is remotely Christmassy. And on the Christmas biscuit-baking table will be the Grandmas.

To top it all off Grandad is going to read us a children’s Christmas story while we eat the biscuits and drink Kinderpunsch.

I expect I will be buzzing around from one table to the next and walking here and there wth the children who need my assistance.

I have invited these six and seven-year-old children to bring some of their school-mates with them. This is all funded by the integrative school project and is very much appreciated by all concerned. We hope that it will be a step in the right direction, assisting these less mobile children to find their place amongst their new classmates. It is sometimes very difficult for them to find mutual interests, apart from racing around in the garden and playing with Lego, activities that many of our children find difficult to take part in.

I have organised this gathering on Friday with the hope that, by joining in all the activities together the children will find it easier to form new friendships.

I hope I haven’t forgotten anything. I have been collecting bits and pieces all week. It is difficult doing this alone but all the “guests” are very appreciative and are coming up trumps with such good ideas and assistance that it looks set to be quite a spectacular event.

That won’t be the end of the partying on Friday.

Cinderella will still go to the ball!

I hope that the children and their entourage will all be out of the door by six o’clock, because just an hour later there will begin the party for the staff!

This Nürnberg organisation employs hundreds of people and we, including the self-employed like me, are all invited every two years to a big Christmas party. We all look forward to it, as the different departments are not merely spread over the city but over the whole county of Frankonia. Many people are only names on an email and voices on a telephone until this get- together enables us to meet.

Our resident chef always puts on a wonderful spread and it is usually the Sushi that sends every one back several times to the buffet table.

Gradually on each occasion I get to know a few more people and become more established in the overall work of this organisation. Of course, this is primarily a social occasion and we dance to the live music into the night, but a lot of essential work gets done too nevertheless.

Let’s hope that I have enough time after the children have left to get the glitter out of my hair, lift the paint from under my finger-nails and get into my glad rags for a quick sprint across the courtyard to where the next action will take place.

Full reports of course at the weekend after a long sleep and making my own christmas cards! Yes, I am sorry, but my own card creations are late, yet again.!

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