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Thursday 3 November 2011

A conductive sleep-over continued

 Ready, steady, cooking

Ready, steady, go!

 "Getting on withthe job!"

 "Ready for a long walk before breakfast"

 "Nearly made it"

"Arty breakfast scene!" 

 "Fruits of the days"
"Homeward bound, alone, by bike!"
(There is a suitcase under the bag!)

How can one sleep conductively?

That is what someone asked me yesterday evening. It was a conductor, we were just wondering about things. I said conductive sleeping probably means reading with a torch under the bed covers, midnight feasts and snoring.

That just about sums it up doesn’t it?

We will see, after this weekend is over when our children have, on their own request, conductively slept-over for the first time.

There is a lot of excitement, suitcases are being packed, meals have been discussed and we are really looking forward to the great event.

I hope there will be at least a couple of hours of conductive-sleeping going on.

Making plans for the future

At our end-of-term meeting for parents, family members, school assistants, teachers and children many subjects came up for discussion. Lots of praise was given from all sides, lots of ideas were exchanged and recommendations. The children were asked what they wanted to see happen in the future in their conductive sessions.

Not only one of the children but three of them, quite independently of each other, asked whether we could have a sleep-over in the conductive group just as they had all done at the end of years two and three at school.

An idea is hatched

So that was how the idea for a conductive sleep-over was born. Since that moment the children have not stopped asking about it and before I went off for my resent autumn holiday a date had already been set, last Friday!

Gradually, step-by-step we have helped the children to plan the time at the sleep-over.

On one occasion that we were all together we discussed the menu for the supper, breakfast and lunch that we would eat together and decided on any drinks that were needed. There was a unanimous decision to spend a bit more money on breakfast and not just walk to the baker’s to fetch it, but to sit down to eat it right there in the café with hot chocolate to get us warmed up for the walk home again.

The children all wanted to bake pizzas for Friday night’s supper and chose their individual toppings from salami, pepperoni, tomatoes, mushrooms, tuna fish and sweet-corn, all agreeing to piling  lots of cheese on the top of everything. In case there was not enough pizza left for Saturday lunch, potatoes and apples would be brought to bake in the oven and eaten with the rest of the toppings! Of course the apples would be baked with sultanas and honey!

Évi was in charge of the food, being the chef amongst us, while I got to work on the arts and crafts activities.

We decided that we would use the hours together to carry on with our furniture-making project, to make some autumn decorations to take home, then, if we had time we would also make some horse-chestnut creatures. The materials for all of these activities I slowly collected and piled them high in the office!

As well as the planning of all of this there was a list of what must be put in the suitcase to be written. This was done in the group one day after school. Now there would only be the decisions to make on which teddies to bring, what game to choose, what book to pack and whether one or two torches would be needed.

All of this has given us all enough food for thought for the past few weeks. We all had just long enough to enjoy the anticipation and not too long so that the fun wore off.

Late on a Friday evening in October we were ready to receive our wards for the night. Évi and I had asked our faithful helper, Mario to join us.  During the year that he has been with us, the children have really grown to love him and we knew it would make their day when they got to know that he would be snuggling down in a sleeping bag too. The weekend would not have been the same without him, for both the children and for us.

The children arrived one by one. The first arrived with her father, ten minutes early and, despite a very bad cold, she was raring to go. Another child cycled to the centre on her own with her suitcase in the back of her bike. She was followed close on her heels by her breathless Mum who had rushed behind as she had forgotten to give her medicine! A third child rushed into the room like a breath of wind with his brand-new, man-size sleeping-bag in his hand. He looked as if he had just jumped off the bus. His mum was still in the car, this over-nighter had been in such a rush that he had got out before mum had had a chance to switch off the engine.

All of this boded well for a happy time to be had by all. And that is exactly what it was. We had dry eyes, smiling faces and lots and lots of fun. We were busy from dusk till dawn and on through the next day until the afternoon. Twenty-two hours of business.

Our Mario took all the gear upstairs for us, leaving it all lined up for the children to unpack later.

First we had some cooking to do then don the painting overalls

With the pizzas prepared with sections of each of the three carefully sectioned off for the adults to eat. 

Mine with everything but no meat, Évi’s full with mushrooms and Mario’s without sweet corn.

With the food in the oven and the timer set we went over to the painting corner. Then in protective clothing from neck to toes, leaving our hair free to get a bit punky, we mixed some glorious pastel colours. We then set to work painting the Ikea chairs, the chairs that the children had put together themselves, with great enthusiasm and showing amazing skills, a week earlier. They could hardly wait to get their hands on the paints. I think they still found it hard to believe that these were their own chairs to do whatever they liked with!

The attraction of cuddly toys and a cosy sleeping bag

We had a hard job to tear the children away from their work and  the eating of delicious pizzas and persuade them to prepare for bed, but we did it eventually. I expect that when a little bit tired the thought of being able to try out their torches, unpack their millions of cuddly toys and snuggle down to sleep in a bag was in the end more attractive than painting chairs.

These littlies proved just how independent they have become. It is only in such situations, in the real real-life, that we as conductors can truly observe just what these children can do. Whether it is in a school visit, a swimming lesson or at a sleep-over we are always, just as on this occasion, pleasantly surprised. We know what they can do but we rarely get the chance to see them putting on pyjamas all alone, stuffing a sleeping-bag full with cuddly toys, or leaping on an adult to wake him, as they did to poor Mario!

These sleep-over children did nothing all weekend but laugh and joke and smile. We played on the top of the sleeping bags, I read stories while Évi cleared up our mess, and when she arrived back again we scared her with the torches. It is funny how children of all generations, all over the world, put their torch in their mouths and always look so scary!

With just one word, and Mario’s quick exit before he got jumped on again, the children were in their beds and settled for the night.

It would be nice to say that there was not a squeak all night

From one little girl we did not hear a word till seven-thirty in the morning, a little boy stirred just once when he went to the bathroom, but the girl with a very bad cold, who so desperately wanted to be there, coughed a lot and was restless. She needed tissues passed and re-covering with her bed-clothes much of the night, but the first thing she told us in the morning was how well she had slept!

We had slept less well, but we did not mind because the children were so cheery. Évi and I are not used to waking to such activity in the morning and we loved it. The children were soon up and dressed, suitcases were packed and we were ready for a quick cup of tea before we braved the misty-moisty morning outside.

Before all of this happened two of the children took themselves off on hands and knees as quietly as they could to jump start Mario awake. The shrieks from his room probably woke the whole house; thank goodness it was not Sunday!

Off out for breakfast, but first a bit of sport!

Breakfast was half a mile away, and first we had to get there. One littlie was on her bike, one  was walking with a rolator and another was on Shanks’s pony. He actually jogged most of the way as he was trying to keep up with his favourite friend on her trike!

I could not believe what appetites these children had when they at last arrived at the baker’s.

I thought at first that they would not be able to eat all that they had ordered but I  had misjudged them all as we ended up going back for more!

At first it was difficult for them to decide what they wanted but they managed in the end to choose something tasty from the huge array of bread and cakes. Drinking chocolate was on the menu for us all and with our meals in front of us we tucked in. We had to store up lots of reserve energy for our long journey back home, a journey that actually did not seem half as far with our tummies full and plans of action for the hours ahead to look forward to.

We painted some more then ate the left-over pizza for lunch. The children did not want to eat anything else, preferring to eat their pizzas rather than to take the rest home for brothers and sister.

As we did not have to cook this left us time to create some autumn decorations using the gifts  that we had found in the autumn hedgerows, hips and haws, and flower pots, before playing a last round of card games that the children had brought tucked away in a corner of their suitcases.

Time to go home

The cyclist took herself off home with suitcase and sleeping-bag all piled up behind her and the others bundled themselves into parents' cars. One little boy ignored his mum rushing to the back seat to cuddle his baby sister.

It had only been twenty-two hours but it has been long enough to miss a lovely baby sister, or a twin sister, or an older brother.

I thank the people who I work for, and the parents of these really happy children for allowing me to organise and take part in this conductive sleep-over. The children all wish to do it again sometime and so do all three adults.

It was an absolute pleasure for me to sleep conductively, to play conductively, to paint conductively and to walk in the misty-moisty morning to breakfast conductively with these children.

This was one of my best “work” experiences ever! It was a combination of so many lovely special times and the children showed so much enjoyment while taking part in everything that we offered them. How could it have been anything but a whole lot of fun for us all.

It was definitely food for our souls.

Thank you children for conductively sleeping-over, let us do it again sometime, soon!


Kasey Gray said...

I love it!

Susie Mallett said...


It was written with you in mind!

I am glad that you enjoyed it.