I find that much of the pleasure of treats – like holidays, days out and birthdays – is in the anticipation. We look forward to our weekends away or nights out, before they happen as our imagination plays out what it will be like and how it is going to feel. I am already excited about our half term holiday in less than three weeks time and that will definitely be some of the pleasure of the break away. But Joshua is deprived of that anticipation as he does not really understand the concept of time or the future tense. If I told him that we were going on holiday soon, if he understood at all, he would expect it to happen immediately.I am not even sure how much he reads into signals such as packing suitcases or getting dressed up smart for a family party either, so most things must come as a surprise to him and we are fortunate that he takes most things in his stride.
I try to explain what is happening to him, so that he can share some of my excitement at treats, but I cannot be sure how much he understands. Even when we have gone on holiday and he has seen the packing, I think he only really appreciates what is going on when we get on the ferry – that seems to be when his excitement shows. He has always loved the 40 minute ferry crossing, and I have to admit that it still gives me butterflies too, having made that crossing all of my life. It is as though the words do not really relate, but the ferry is something tangible and immediate and he knows from experience now , what follows on from that crossing.
But in having no concept of the future tense, Joshua is missing out on the fun of anticipation. I know that many children count down until Christmas or their birthday, crossing off the nights that are still left to go but Joshua has never had that feeling of anticipation or impatient excitement. The advent calendar, that I am already starting to see displayed in shops, should give that sense of counting down the days of December until Christmas Day, but Joshua has never really related to that concept.
I am not really sure what else I can try to be able to share the excitement of anticipation with him, as I do get excited about my birthday, holidays and treats. Perhaps I should try to share photographs with him to help him visualise what I mean by the words that I am using, I could share photographs of our summer holiday with him, to remind him of the fun that we enjoyed at the same place that we will be heading to in less than three weeks time; I am already counting the days, and I would love for him to share in my excitement if he could.