I think that I have written before that Joshua uses his feet to communicate a lot and unfortunately has developed a habit of kicking, with his big NHS boots and splints on. He will kick at doors when he is impatient and ready to go out as an expression of ‘come on, lets go’ or sometimes it is to attract attention. Joshua also kicks out at ankles as a protest, not too hard but he is pretty accurate. Yesterday we went out for the day and our first stop was a supermarket to get some provisions. Joshua pushed the trolley with me as he likes to do and occasionally he would let go, when I was distracted by reaching something off a shelf, and he would make a run for it, giggling. I would chase him and bring him back to the trolley. He enjoys this game, making Mum run.
He began to kick the wheels of the trolley as he was pushing it and I told him that he was only hurting his own toes, nothing else. So he escalated, and he took a swipe at my ankles instead, while still pushing the trolley. I objected and passed him onto his Dad who walked arm in arm with him. As we reached the end of an aisle, he kicked out at an elderly lady walking passed. I do not know if he actually made contact, as she did not react, but the intention was certainly there and we both saw it. That is the first time that I have known him to try to injure a stranger in a public place. My husband took him straight to the car – which might well have been what he wanted of course, although he usually enjoys a brief supermarket shop. I continued without them and when I got back to the car, Joshua was certainly subdued, as though he had been told off and understood that he had misbehaved. I gave him only my very disappointed face and we drove to our next destination, with him continually turning around and grinning at me, trying to win his way back into my good books.
I really hope that this kick was just a one -off, or else we will struggle to take him out to public places as his reactions are so quick and unpredictable. I still do not think that it was malicious, it was part of his attention-seeking game, but the end result was the same and I may be giving the benefit of too much doubt. But did he get the message yesterday that such behaviour would not be tolerated? Or did he learn that if you don’t want to do something, then just kick an old lady and you’ll get taken away?
Only time will tell how he interprets our response but he behaved beautifully for the rest of the day, walking a long way, pushing his own wheelchair with no hint of kicking out. He made us laugh as he was rushing along the prom, clearly thinking that there was a cafe reward at the end, so he was disappointed when we turned around to walk back the way we had come. He made it very clear what he had in mind as every establishment that looked like a cafe, whether it was closed or not, he tried to get in their door. He was a man on a mission and he was so relieved when we finally reached our destination, where he was happy to sit and to warm up his cold hands, while waiting patiently for his lunch.