Lending an Ear and a Shoulder

We went out  yesterday for a beach walk with the dogs as it was a bright, breezy day with blue skies. We parked close to the beach and Joshua virtually ran to the shore. It was busy with dog walkers as we had all had the same idea, so Kevin got some socialisation training. We went at Joshua’s pace and turned around when he was ready to, but close to the slop back to the car, Joshua struggled in the soft sand. He protested by throwing himself on the ground and lying down on the sand. I threw sticks and stones for the dogs to fetch for a while and then I used bribery to encourage him to get up, by saying ” Oh well, if you are too tired for Donalds then, we could just go home again?” The magic word had him shrieking with joy and he willingly accepted assistance to get up again as he rushed to the car, shouting for ‘Donalds’.

So we went to Donalds for lunch and it appeared that he was ravenous. He could not bear the wait for his food to be ready and so he shuffled along his bench seat to get closer to the table next to us, where a girl with cerebal palsy was enjoying a Happy Meal with her mum. Joshua was stretching out to try to reach her fries and of course I apologised and swapped seats with him so as to block his view and reach. Finally his own chicken strips and chips arrived and he tucked in, eating everything.

As the lady next to us stood up to put on her daughter’s coat, my husband remarked at the wheels on her wheelchair and it was as though he had opened some flood gates : she told us all about the wheelchair assessment that had been made, the cost savings that Wheelchair Services had tried to make, the battle that she had had to get what she wanted and how much worse Adult Services were than children’s services. She hardly stopped for breath and my husband nodded sympathetically, then ran off to a neighbouring shop leaving me to listen to her, while Joshua finished his lunch. She told me about the other battles that she had had during Becca’s life, how she did not realise at the outset that nappies were provided free of charge and how her social worker had left her to struggle as she had appeared to be coping. I heard about how her husband had left her and the difficulties that she had had returning the motability car as she did not drive.

I gave her as much of an audience as I could as she clearly needed to unburden herself, but once Joshua had eaten his last chip, he was ready to go too. She continued to talk as I struggled to keep him still to put his coat on and finally I managed to jump in to tell her that it had been good to meet them both and that we were leaving. This mother had needed to talk yesterday and so I was happy to listen for as long as I could. She apologised for talking so much as we were leaving and said that she was famous in the town, that social workers allowed double appointments for her home visits. I know what an isolating experience being the mother of a child with special needs can be and clearly she had a need to unburden herself at that time and I looked like a willing listener.   I hope that I was able to leave her feeling as though her problems had been shared and halved.

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