A trip to a soft play centre. A typical, mundane parenting situation.
For us it was more like one small step for Josh, one giant leap for a Mummy like me!
I can’t explain the nerves I get when I take Josh somewhere new or unfamiliar. So many times on the drive to somewhere new I’ve considered just going home again, back to safety. I think a year ago, before we really knew what was going on with Josh but were being hit with daily outbursts and meltdowns, I actually did turn the car round and come home a couple of times. I was tired, heavily pregnant and had no idea what was going on other than Josh was finding things extremely overwhelming for reasons I was yet to really learn about.
But as time has gone on and we’ve learnt more about Josh’s condition and what he can and can’t handle, I now know when to seize the opportunity and brave somewhere new. So this morning I got the kids up, fed and dressed and we headed off to a little soft play place close to where we live. I’d only been there once before and that time my husband was with me so we could tag team the kids. But today I was flying solo. Just us and my determination that we were going to have a good morning.
And lo and behold my positive attitude paid off. We had just over an hour of playing both indoors and outside and Josh had a great time. I managed to cart Holly around with me as we followed Josh around the soft play area and she loved it.
Normally whenever I take Josh anywhere, even just the little park near our house, I have hidden bribery, usually in the form of pom bears and milk! I have to keep it hidden until that window of opportunity appears and I can get him to come with me to the car. Today, even that was a success. I could tell he was starting to tire so I said “Josh, shall we go and get you some milk” and he instantly walked off to Hollys buggy where he knew it was and waited for me to give it to him, before following me drama free to the car. I didn’t know what to be more thrilled about – his co-operation or his clear understanding of what I had said to him.
One of the many things we’ve been asked about when discussing Josh at his appointments is how his understanding of what we say to him is. Honestly, his understanding has always been quite limited. There are certain things he does get; if we say we’re going up for a bath he does come straight up to the bathroom, if I say it’s time for a snooze he knows to go up to bed. But when it came to things like “get your shoes” for when we’d go out, he would look at my blankly.
But over the last couple of months, as his attempts at talking have improved (he was even trying to sing incy wincy spider last night – my heart almost burst), his level of understanding has also improved. He knew exactly what I meant when I said about the milk – he knew the word and that it meant he’d get a drink, and he seemed to associate it with the fact we were going to the car to go home because there was no argument from him at all.
Obviously not every outing we go out on ends like this. In fact I’m planning on walking him and Holly to the park later this afternoon and there’s every chance it will end in a paddy from Josh. But I am all about celebrating the wins! I cling on to them because knowing they are possible gets me through the days when they are so far from reach.
I feel like Josh and I are a little team. We both have a lot to learn, we both find it hard some days, other days we sail through. But I love knowing that I’m his sidekick, and he’s mine. That we’re figuring all of this out together. I’m so proud of him. He has come on in leaps and bounds over the last couple of months. I mentioned earlier in this post about his attempts at singing Incy Wincy; well since then (it’s now the next day – yes it takes me a couple of days to get a blog post done sometimes. Blame the baby!) he has also sung the first few lines of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. He did this curled up on me on the sofa right before bed last night. And my God, I cried. I cried with such happiness and pride. Hearing his little voice is something I’ve dreamed about. And now we’re actually starting to hear it.
Our day together was such a simple day; the sort of day every Mum has, several times a week. A normal day. The soft play, lunch, the park. For us, it’s not always that simple or normal so it means so much to me that I had a day of such happiness and contentment with my babies. A day where there wasn’t a meltdown, there were no tears or tantrums, not once all day did I feel a concern about anyone looking at Josh for his behaviour. Josh did so well and I am so proud of him and of myself. I know I am the best person to help guide Josh through his future. I know we’ll tackle it together – good days and bad days. And I know I’ll do a good job. I am doing a good job. My happy little boy is a testament to that. And we both deserved our day of smiles, soft play and singing.