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!

image

 

meetings, mice and playing nice…

Strange title I know but it sums up my week! It has been interesting to say the least.

I’m such a people person and I like to talk. Funny how God does things and I have two children, one who can not speak and one who doesn’t like people being near her! If I hadn’t given birth to them I would wonder if they were mine some days. God certainly has a sense of humour I believe. And if there is something I really love it is meeting other families, other parents who can relate to my journey of raising two additional needs children. So I like to frequent carers support groups, children’s clubs for special needs children and training meetings whenever I can. I tell folk it’s for the children but most often it’s me who benefits most. There’s something comforting to be surrounded by other people who do not judge, who accept your children for who they are and who want to support you. So if I hear about such groups I quickly get the diary out and see how many I can squeeze in around hospital appointments, speech and language appointments, pediatrician appointments and all the other multiple professionals who are involved with my children. And if the children can come with me all the better. It’s good for them to socialise but does me even more good to get out the house. It’s not good to be isolated. This week I have been to parent support meetings, a meet up at soft play and two children’s clubs with the kids..and it’s only wednesday! I have also taken the children to friends houses to visit too.

My daughter did announce in disgust to her dad this week though that “mummy talks too much”. Ok point taken Naomi. There are advantages to having a non verbal child…!

So if I am honest my sudden desire to attend everything and anything hasn’t just been motivated by my desire to be around people. We have had mice! And I have been terrified. We probably had them for a few days before we really knew for certain. My son has pica and chews and bites EVERYTHING. So when we called out someone to visit he wanted to have a good look around for signs of mice. The conversation went a bit like this:

“Oh there’s been some jigsaws chewed. That could be mice.” No sorry that was my son.

“I have found some chewed chocolate under the couch. That’ll definitely be mice.” Ermmm I think that was my son too.

“In your kitchen I have found what could be mice dropping.” Actually that’s looks like coco pops my son dropped. You have no idea how far those blighters can get!

“And could your son have gotten behind your kitchen bin and bitten tiny holes in a discarded tomato ketchup sachet? Oh we might actually have mice then!

Unsurprisingly he never suggested putting poison down. Oh yes Isaac would have eaten that for sure! So we lured our dear mice ‘friends’ in with chocolate spread and hide the traps as far away from sight as possible (I knew there would be an advantage to my son only seeing out one eye!) And rather than the infestation the chewed toys and food suggested we caught just 5 tiny mice. The majority of the chewing was indeed my son. But I was still terrified of those creepy mice! At least I had a funny story to tell at my next meeting!

Three days have passed now and although there is still plenty chewing and biting going on in the house it certainly isn’t those pesky creatures with four legs…just the bouncy, playful, cheery two legged kind called children.
We never mentioned our little visitors to the children. One would have perhaps thought it was a new delicious sounding meal, the other would have been traumatised. I’m with the second one personally.
And in all this the kids have been…well behaved! They have had a friend over to play and been to others houses and they have played nicely (all be it not talking or looking much at the other kids) and not screamed or had a public tantrum for days.
Maybe there is something to be said about going out more and keeping busy. And having the ability to laugh. When I ask God for more visitors in future though I think I will be more specific…

Laughing at Life

img_6074

I put my little boy to bed tonight and put the monitor on. His room was dark and the house was quiet. He can not yet speak a single word and this last week he has been covered in chicken pox, but when I came downstairs my whole house was filled with the sound of laughter. Isaac was laughing: loud, contagious and hearty laughs. I ought not to be surprised as his very name means laughter!

When I was pregnant with my twins my husband and myself talked often about names. We had a girl’s name picked early on and when we found out we were having boy/girl twins the search was on for a matching boys name. We read through books of names and discussed various options before settling on Isaac. Naomi and Isaac. Together they mean ‘pleasant’ and ‘laughter’. We thought this sounded heavenly. And they both live up to their names. In the first two years I often joked that I should have renamed them ‘sleepless’ and ‘nights’ though!

But there is something remarkable about hearing Isaac laugh himself to sleep. His laughter is my therapy. While he is laughing I am downstairs reading yet another report about him. A report listing his ‘problems’ his ‘concerns’ his ‘difficulties’, his ‘challenges’. Tonights report is about how he requires specialist provision for his up and coming transition to school in August. It is not easy to read and will then be filed in a metal filing box rapidly filling up even though he is only 4. He has what they call ‘severe and complex needs’ but these people need to hear my boy laugh like he is laughing tonight! No-one knows what he is finding so hilarious but it is catching. I look over to my husband quietly reading, enjoying some well earned relaxation, and he is smiling too. If only I could record this laughter to let you hear it. I would love to see you smile too.

I have decided I need to laugh more too. I have been through so much in life that I don’t find at all funny but I can now think of funny moments during those hard times.

My dad died over 11 years ago when he quite suddenly found out he had cancer.He was working one day and 4 weeks later died.He was only in his forties. But I can think tonight of a very funny memory of him sitting sewing buttons onto one of his work shirts and proudly holding the shirt up for us all to see, only for all the buttons to fall off onto the floor! He had missed the holes every time he was threading. Boy did the whole family laugh that night.

I didn’t find it funny when my twins were first born and I was utterly sleep deprived and found it hard to function. But then I think of a funny moment when my health visitor visited and I was crying changing my daughters nappy because I thought she has lost a vital bit and he pointed out it was Naomi I was changing and not her brother! I laughed at that one for weeks.

And then there’s the funny things children says all the time. Today’s one from my daughter was “if you can’t think of things mummy and your brain doesn’t work then you need to change your batteries!” And one time my mum caught my younger brother laughing when he was a child and when asked what he was laughing at he said “I’ve just told myself a joke I didn’t know!”

So here I am thinking of all these funny things and I still have this report in front of me. And then I see a line in the midst of a very serious report that reads “Isaac tolerates his parents”. At any other time I would be questioning what this meant, what is implied by this or even being annoyed at such a silly statement but tonight I am going to take a leaf out of my disabled son’s book of life and laugh at these four words written in the midst of this otherwise depressing and serious report.

They’ll be plenty of time for tears later but for tonight I’m just going to laugh at life and enjoy the journey. I hope you have laughed a little with me.