No-one today should be caring alone

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No-one today should be caring alone

Middle aged man, commuting by train
Thoughts turn to his sister he left crying in pain
He’s off to a meeting, while she struggles at home
Both of them left to face it alone

Teenage mum struggling, pushing a chair
The child is yelling, people just stare
She is begging for help as she picks up the phone
She cares for her child, but does it alone

The couple at the cafe, sharing their tea
One of them lost yet no-one can see
He lives in the past, a mind not his own
Forgetting her name, they both grieve alone

The parents of a child who may never walk
They sing to a baby who still can not talk
Kissing a hand, though it’s all skin and bone
Everyday precious, weeping alone

Little eight year old, should be out to play
Instead she is feeding her dad everyday
Doing his care as the nurses have shown
With no one to tell her she isn’t alone

The next door neighbour, bringing some meals
Staying and listening to ask how she feels
Filling out forms while letting her moan
Determined his friend should not feel alone

The father sitting at the hospital bed
Digesting the words that the doctor just said
A new diagnosis, his mind has been thrown
Needing support so he isn’t alone

So many people with stories to tell
Caring for others, and doing it well
Yet they all need support, to know they are not on their own
Because no-one today should be caring alone.

Miriam Gwynne

The day he chose his own birthday present

imageI had waited for this day for many years.

He has yet to tell me what he would like for Christmas or a birthday. He has yet to speak, period. He isn’t able to look through a toy catalogue and mark the things he likes. He has no concept of adverts and no interest in toy shops other than the automatic doors or the lift.

Birthdays and Christmas are therefore hard. We basically guess what he might like based on observation and knowledge of his sensory preferences. Sometimes we get it right. More often than not we completely waste our money on things he never goes near.

If we find it hard how much harder do relatives and friends find buying for a child who never plays with toys?

So at his birthday party this year lots of people opted to give him money. And I totally understood why.

But that left me with an even bigger problem: now we HAVE to do something and get something for him.

I was stuck.

So in desperation I decided to venture into a shop with him. That meant pushing him beyond his comfort zone of the automatic doors at the entrance. It meant picking a time when the shop would be most quiet, not only in terms of people but also in terms of tannoy announcements, music, and noisy technology. It meant risking a huge public meltdown.

I tried to prepare him. It’s not like I can tell him he has birthday money and he can come choose a toy. He has no concept of what a birthday is let alone what money is. I am not entirely sure he even realises what a shop is? So I kept it simple and told him he was coming somewhere special with mummy to get something he would really like.

He loves his mummy does that boy.

So I searched for his socks and shoes and lifted him into the car. At seven this gets harder by the day. I took him to a shop we have been to many times before. The whole journey I kept repeating that today we were going into the shop and he could chose himself something nice. As I glanced at him flapping in the mirror I thought for a moment he may actually have understood me.

I think I was right.

He took my hand. He walked right through those beloved doors and he smiled and laughed and flapped like he had just won a coveted prize.

Then he stopped right where he was. He picked something off the shelf and he took my hand and dragged me to the checkout.

I was so utterly in love with him. I was bursting with pride! I wanted to shout about this magical achievement to the ends of the world.

My son has just chosen his own birthday present!

I had no need to worry about the cost. Or wether he needed batteries. Or even if I needed scissors or a screwdriver to get through the packaging. I never even needed to purchase a carrier bag!

He held his prized possession all the way home in the car, turning it, licking it, and smiling at it.

He knew he had chosen well. And so did I.

I actually wonder why I never thought of this before…

After all surely every seven year old wants a tin of baked beans for their birthday present!

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