Hayley finds timescales really difficult. She knows that her birthday is in October, she knows that it's on the 19th and she knows that this year it's on a Monday. Problem is that she is getting a bit muddled about which Monday it's on and being away from home this time has made it a bit more difficult for her.
Birthdays are so important to her. Each year as soon as the day is actually over, she begins the countdown to the next one. The rest of us get fed up of clocking up the years but not our Hayley! We have always tried to make birthdays special for each of our children. After all, when you are one of four there aren't many occasions that you can call your own.
I always find that I become very reflective when I recall the day that each one of my children came into this world. None more so than with my youngest. All the emotions of that day come flooding back and I wonder how we ever got through that difficult time.
So here we are twenty years on and for the first time we will not be together on Hayleys special day. We will visit her and take her out the day before but the day will be for her to celebrate with her new friends.
My phone rang at 8 o'clock this morning. I knew it was Hayley straight away, but why so early? She normally rings much later and is usually very busy getting ready for the start of the college day this early in the morning.
"Hi sweetie, are you okay?"
She sounded a bit sad and deflated on the other end of the phone. I knew that she had problems sleeping some nights and she had just started sharing her room with another student. She was trying hard not to complain, but she has never shared a room in her life. But this wasn't the problem.
"Mum, it is October isn't it?"
"Yes Hayley, but it's not your birthday today. It's next Monday! Did you think it was today?"
"Oh dear, I am silly!"
"Never mind Hayley, next Sunday we are coming over to take you out to celebrate. Andi and Jess might come too"
"How many sleeps left Mum?"
"Seven darling, and then it really is your birthday"
As I put the phone down a lump came into my throat. She had woken up thinking it was her birthday today and that everyone had forgotten. Bless her.
Counting sleeps is one thing but keeping track is another. She'll learn, but in the meantime I will help her by reminding her each time she rings. Days like this can be hard, but one day we will both feel more comfortable. Little by little the ties are being cut.