Joshua and I went to the wildlife park yesterday and to go under our own steam was certainly the right decision, given the washed out state that he was in for most of the day. We arrived at 10.35 and were able to park right outside the entrance in disabled parking. As I was building the wheelchair, my sister in law , niece and nephew arrived as they live not far away and we walked in together under a very threatening sky. The school organiser kindly waited at the entrance for us with our pre-paid tickets and she was greeted with the first beam of the day from Joshua.
As we walked around the attraction, I kept forgetting that we knew people from school there : we were gazing up at the lemurs leaping from tree to tree, when Joshua’s one to one and classroom assistant from last year walked past with their families! Joshua certainly found them both more interesting than lemurs and another grin burst out for them! It was really rewarding to see that, even out of context, Joshua was pleased to see school staff who he had not seen since mid July.
The heavens opened and the black sky emptied on our heads, when I found that I had left my raincoat on the back seat of the car, but it was warm. I was highly amused to see the wallabies huddling in their shelters out of the rain, while my niece and nephew delighted in splodging in the puddles. Joshua did not object to the rain but he did start to look more cold and damp, but at least he was wearing his waterproof jacket. It continued to rain, as forecasted, while we enjoyed watching the polar bears play-fighting in the water. The rain eased as we wandered in the South American monkey enclosure where buggies and dummies were banned but there was no mention of wheelchairs, so I was wary of what might happen to Joshua as we wheeled through, but no spider monkeys jumped on-board.
We decided to stop for lunch as we queued for our food, the rain stopped and the sun came out .It became warm quickly as we sat under raffia umbrellas eating and Joshua ate more chips than I expected, given the look in his eyes. We stopped off at the play-area for Joshua’s cousins to clamber over and through a giant ladybird, spider and snail! Then we watched the giraffes munching trees and the tiger cubs and lions dozing in the afternoon sun. We enjoyed a cup of tea and cake before attending the ‘Meet the Animals’ show where a harris hawk flew very close to my head and frightened the life out of me, but where I loved seeing Willow the barn owl flying around.
As we walked towards the obligatory gift shop, the heavens opened once again. We sheltered while buying monkey masks for our hosts for an evening dinner date as well as a hologram -tiger notebook for daddy. By this time, 4pm, Joshua had his head resting on his knees so he did not see another staff member who came over for a chat. Clearly this was a much more fun day out for me than it was for Joshua, who may well have preferred to have stayed at home in bed. But my attitude is that, given the seizures and rescue medication the day before, he was always going to be wiped-out during this day. He could have spent his mum’s planned day off work lounging around at home while she did some chores or worked from home, or we could have shared an outing with family and school staff, which brought with it occasional smiles, some damp clothes and the opportunity – which was not always taken up due to closed eyes – to enjoy some wild animals at pretty close quarters. I know which was the better option for me… and that is what we did!