We managed to get away for a few days, two different places so far – and we seem to have (mostly) got away with it. I’m feeling shattered & a bit overtired as we touch base over night at home again before another day out tomorrow for a family party. (Yes, yet again I’ve got to the ‘I can’t sleep, I can’t even rest’ state and it’s nearly 3am – anyone would think tomorrow might be making me feel nervous!)
Outfits have been picked & tried on (here’s hoping they’ll still feel comfortable & be acceptable in the morning – there are no guarantees) but I still haven’t changed what distractions and tricks I have in my bag to help us get through tomorrow. Days out are so unpredictable for us, excitement and overload seem to have a very fine line between them. And no amount of planning, preparing & talking it through will be accurate enough when it’s a day organised by others, with lots of unknowns.
When we go away just us, we try to go to familiar places and tend to repeat the same days out with pretty much the same activities. So the flat we have just been to requires us to have a cheap light us ball with us for at least one game of catch in the dark because when T was a toddler I needed to distract her one holiday in that tricky half hour before tea, and this game with her (new that year) ball was invented. I’m guessing I’ll have to find a new ball if this one breaks, it’s now part of how we do things there. Another essential is a baking kit – you know the ones in the boxes where you only have to add a few extra things (this began one holiday at this flat on a rather desperate rainy day when I needed something, anything that would occupy B & give everyone a bit of space – and has been part of every visit there since) – this year it was gingerbread men in a tub. There are games there, and puzzles, and books – and usually we look through the same ones every time we go; Hannah Hauxwell and paper modelling ideas books. There are changes to our holidays but they are subtle, and take time (& energy).
This time, the games quickly became a source of frustration. T couldn’t leave B’s trains alone, and just had to touch them and move them… A & I enjoyed a few games of Boggle and then had to explain the game to T – she found 10 words her first try & was very pleased with herself… T also wanted to play chess whenever B & A were trying to, so in the end A taught her the basics, and she had a couple of good games – her focus is intense when she is interested in something, and she worked out all the different moves and where the pieces were on the board very quickly as well as seeing the point of the game. Unfortunately by the next day she had also worked out a ‘better way’ to win, changing some of the rules whenever it was her go… ‘no A, my pawn can do it like this!’ Needless to say A was much more reluctant to sit & play after that, and of course it became quite tricky to help them work that out!
I did manage to get a bit of doodling done in the midst of it all – a very apt passage to reflect on whilst on holiday! We took the book with us that B & I have been reading still since the end of lent (‘thoughts to make your heart sing’). With her and A in the same room for the few days in the flat we read together with him too – still at the same part of her bedtime routine of course, everything has it’s own time & place.
I also managed to read to the very end of a book (‘Iris Grace’)!!! Unheard of! I did end up having to read quite a bit of it out loud to T, who was very interested in the pictures. It was a beautiful and very moving account of a mother’s experience of the early years of parenting her little girl with autism, non-verbal. I wasn’t sure how I would feel reading it, both my girls have been very early talkers and we encounter the ‘mild’/’severe’ comparison so often it feels quite painful sometimes. It can feel as if the problems and difficulties they experience fitting into the world around them are dismissed or overlooked, as if the ability to talk must mean that communication isn’t difficult for them. I guess I was nervous that the book might stir all that up in me. Actually it didn’t, so much of the girl’s mum’s experience resonated very deeply with my own and it was affirming and encouraging to read of the milestones they recognized and celebrated, and of how things moved forward for them as a family.
Of course today – leaving day/transition day – has been pretty full on and hard work. Plenty of tears, a few meltdowns, lots of anxiety – and so much less flexibility & tolerance about lots of little things, which is always hard in a car! But we’ve done it, again. Apparently a change is as good as a rest?!