I keep seeing on social media how others are using their creativity during this enforced lockdown : musicians are performing to entertain us, people are learning new skills and so many talented individuals are making valuable masks and gowns for the NHS. We cannot boast anything quite as generous or creative in our household. Most of my energy and imagination is absorbed by taking care of Joshua and in keeping him stimulated and interested. This week we were discussing how we could create a new environment for him as he is beginning to tire of the delights of his much-loved home and we were regretting selling our old motorhome, as this would have been a fun playground. We have been blessed with good weather these last few weeks but Joshua is not really an outdoorsy-type, so it can be a struggle to keep him outside, so I tend to take food and the dogs with us to keep him on the rug with me.
We decided to erect our tent as far away from the house as possible – it was last used for the Isle of Wight festival! We wanted to create a new destination for him and I have been calling it our ‘canvas cafe’ as that is one of the activities that he misses most. He was reluctant as I took him by the hand and led him outside after lunch, on the east coast we always have had a bracing breeze off the North Sea, despite the sunshine. He even told me ‘Don’t mess’ as I led him across the grass, trying to get him excited, or at least curious, about the red canvas structure that had appeared since he was last in the field, but if he was excited, he hid it very well.
It was a struggle to get him into the tent, as he had to crawl inside, so I removed his boots and splints in the outer area, then wriggled/dragged him into the cosier sleeping area where we had already laid out a mattress, quilt and cushions to make it more inviting. He was suspicious at first, scowling at me, but he warmed to it and yesterday we spent two hours in there together this afternoon : playing musical instruments, looking through books, eating Jaffa cakes and dozing, before we turned to YouTube on my phone for some music. It was a different, fun afternoon, when so many have been the same lately, and we both enjoyed the new addition to our pretty limited repertoire. I have been trying to mix up the days more this week but essentially the activities are the same, just in a different order to keep Joshua guessing.
It is challenging to entertain Joshua, without the option of going out, and sadly he lacks the capacity to amuse himself. We enjoy playing on his keyboard and tambourine in the lounge, but he will not go in there on his own. He slams the door continuously when he wants me to go with him to play, and try as I might, when I am busy cooking, which is his preferred time it seems, he will not be persuaded to go in there without me. So Joshua, from the moment he wakes up, is like my shadow. He should have been at his respite provision this weekend, but we continue to self-isolate for his protection. So even though he would be delighted by the change of scene and faces I am sure , and I would welcome the break too, we have decided to keep him with us at home, for the second month in a row now.
Staying safe is our priority for the foreseeable future and with the tent now as an additional venue, we will have some new entertainment options and over time, hopefully we will develop better ways to get in and out of it more easily.