My last post was a bit downbeat so I always feel it’s good to redress the balance with a little positivity.
This time last summer we spent a lot of time in Pinner with my in-laws. If you don’t know Pinner, it’s a leafy London suburb filled with swathes of 1930s houses. Lots of dreamy Metroland property to swoon over. Not a bad place for respite, and respite was exactly what our visits were.
Despite being a long, hot summer and all the joys that brings, I remember it being a time of great sadness and loneliness. The mood of my previous post pretty much defined my life back then and I needed a place to come and be looked after, a break from the endless appointments and questions, from the worry, from the feeling that your child is failing and falling behind in every way and missing every milestone and how that is all very far from OK.
But with the help of family and friends, and crying and talking and escaping, we got through it. And now, a year on, we returned for a visit, and I could see a huge difference in us both.
The few days we spent there last week were scorchers! Wiltshire’s weather has been warm and pleasant lately but I’d forgotten just how roasting London can be.
So what do you do with a small boy on a sweltering day? Relax in the shady garden? Swim? Splash in the nearest river? Or take a Tube for an hour into Central London to have lunch with your old work chums, followed by a trip to your hairdresser in Brixton and a Tube ride home on the cusp of rush hour? Yep, we went for that last one.
Maybe not the most sensible/enjoyable way for the pair of us to spend a day, but Ted was fantastic – he was brilliant on the Tube (he used to scream the whole way), loved it when a whole office of ladies crowded round for a coo and a cuddle, slept in the restaurant, watched the iPad at the hairdressers and only grizzled near the end of the return journey.
That, people, is progression. And it’s sort of progress that means more to me than meeting milestones right now. Calmer behaviour means we have the possibility to do ‘normal’ things.
I used to feel fearful of public transport because it was so unpleasant with Ted. He would cry the whole time in the sling or the pram and commuters would tut and frown. And almost every time, people would try to tell me what was wrong with him. They all thought they knew best.
No, he doesn’t want a drink, he’s just had one and no, the tongue thrusting isn’t thirst, it’s a brain injury; no he doesn’t want a snack, he can’t eat yet; no, being able to see out of the window won’t make any difference because he Just. Hates. The. Bus. I see why they tried to help. If the old me saw us on the way home today, I would have been thinking, ‘I’m sure that little boy would happier if she just gave him a toy or a book. No wonder he’s crying, he’s clearly bored. Can’t she see it?’ While it may be true that he’s bored, I know Ted playing with a book or a toy in his buggy is outside the realms of possibility for now. He is almost two but lacks the motor skills to be able to play and amuse himself. It was a good reminder to me to fight the instinct to judge – you may think you can read a situation, but you can’t. Help is often appreciated but not when it’s offered purely because you think you know best.
Ted’s ability to handle noise and crowds also seems to also be improving slowly. And now I know he can cope with more, I am more relaxed too. It’s opening up a new, more inclusive world to us. Where before I would feel cut off from many experiences, now at least some things are possible and I am less fearful and more inclined to give it a go.
Now, if only he would improve in the car…