Blessed with a different child (A caravan holiday in peak season with a disabled 9 year old)

Back home we live in our own world: You go to school in a town far away and I take you to quiet places where few people go, like the park early in the morning or swimming much later after dinner.

Here we can’t do that.

Here it is obvious that I am blessed with a different child.

Caravan parks don’t isolate the disabled children like education does. Caravan parks don’t give you preferential treatment or appointments like the health service does. Caravan park restaurants won’t let you order mashed potato for breakfast like I make you at home. Here you are the same, but different. A bit like the caravans which on the surface all seem similar yet every single one is different.

When we arrive and unpack those around see I am blessed with a different child even before I park the car. There you sit in the back flapping with excitement and chewing on the nose of your cuddly toy. It’s not something 9 year olds do really and you look…odd.

I forget that others see you and stare. It makes me uncomfortable and reminds me why I don’t take you out as often as I should.

Is taking a disabled child to a busy caravan park in the summer holidays the right thing to do?

I think it is.

I take you to the on-site pool. Other 9 year olds are swimming unaided, playing with friends, drying and dressing themselves and doing hand stands in the water. You are lead by the hand by your mum, still using swimming nappies and a rubber ring and you giggle just sitting at the side dipping your feet in the shallow toddler splash pool. You are every bit as happy as all the other children, just in a different way.

I watch you and smile. Being blessed with a different child has taught me to enjoy your happiness every single day. As I look about I notice a life guard watching and smiling. Your different-ness has made them smile too.

I take you to the busy park. Other parents sit nearby chatting and drinking. I am lifting your legs, guiding you to the steps each time, and encouraging you down the smallest of slides so that children 7 years younger than you can take their turn. You make happy baby noises and wave your hands with excitement. Some parents move their children away, some children leave of their own decision but some carry on regardless. I am not embarrassed by my child but I am embarrassed at how others respond to him.

What’s so bad about seeing someone blessed with a different child?

Being in a busy caravan park with a child who is noticeably different to his peers has made me realise something:

My child is not the issue, the issue is how others respond.

I have not helped my son or my community by going to places others don’t. So from now on I promise to change that.

I am blessed with a different child and I won’t hide that anymore. If he wants to swim at peak times that’s where I will take him. If the park is busy what have I got to be afraid of?

I’m done with the isolation. If I can cope with a busy caravan park in summer season with a nine year old who can’t dress himself, can’t speak, can’t jump and still eats with his fingers then I can do the same back home. If he has a seizure in public so what? If he has a meltdown why should I apologise? He is a child just like any other child. He is beautiful, funny, full of mischief and entitled to play just like any other child.

I thought I was making things easier for my son by protecting him from comments and stares but in reality I have made both more likely because children like my son need to be seen more to be accepted more.

I am blessed with a different child and it’s about time the world saw a lot more of him!

I’m so glad I took him to a busy caravan park in the height of summer season. It gave me confidence and delight to be the one blessed with the different child.


4 thoughts on “Blessed with a different child (A caravan holiday in peak season with a disabled 9 year old)

  1. Bravo!! If he can tolerate the crowds and the noise, forget all the Judgey McJudgeypants out there. You and your son have the same rights to enjoy yourselves as anyone else.
    I’ve never been embarrassed by Ben or the things he does. Maybe it’s because I’m his grandma so I’ve already got years of mothering behind me. I’d love to take Ben out more places but with us, it’s a safety issue. He’s a runner. He just takes off running without a care for any danger. He’s getting better as he gets older so I’m hoping we can do more outings.
    Forget everyone else! You and your wonderful son go have fun!!🌻💌

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I took a big gulp reading this and know I should do the same.
    I’ll follow your lead and vow this summer holidays to be seen more and to just “go”.
    Truth is, I hate the pity stares. Our world isn’t like anyone else’s but life’s different in so many ways for so many people. I need to remember that more. If my sons happy, I will be too. If a meltdown happens I’ll deal with it- we all will. The world won’t stop spinning if people see this, my son would be oblivious to their stares so it’s just me I’ve got to pick up and dust down and show the world life is like this for some of us, but I will not hide it this summer.
    Nothing should stop us from venturing out if it’s something that will make our children happy. We deserve to enjoy their childhood too. After all, this time won’t come back for any of us.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always taken mine wherever they wanted whenever they wanted. The reactions of some bother me some days, when I’m tired for example but I can’t let some people ruin my children’s enjoyment and rights to be out. We are only here once, we have to make the most of it.
    Sounds like he had a great time 🙂


  4. Good for you Miriam! Neither you nor your children have anything to be ashamed of. It is about time that children who are different are seen by society and are allowed to take their place in the world

    Liked by 1 person

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