I have written recently about Joshua’s greater appreciation of what is going on around him and his being less passive than he once was. Another thing that he has started to do is pay close attention to his surroundings, when being driven about in the car. He seems to be constantly trying to second guess where he is going and what he might be likely to do when he arrives. He has always perked up about 2 miles from home, usually when we passed the local garden centre, leaving us in no doubt that he recognised where he was and is endearing that he is always delighted to get home, no matter where he has been. We have often joked that even if he has been on an amazing holiday, he is always happiest when he gets home. That is a great way to be of course, given that he spends more time there than anywhere else.
But I notice him scanning his surroundings in the car, trying to work out where he might be going and what he might be about to do. If we are going somewhere familiar, once he recognises his surroundings, he gets excited. As we park up he begins to pull at his seat belt to get out and repeats ‘Thank you, thank you!’ if it is somewhere that he approves of. If we are travelling and stop at a McDonald’s for a break for example , one that he has not been to before, he recognises either the familiar logo or the building from the outside, but again he either thanks us or excitedly shouts out ‘Donalds!!’ in approval. Even less exciting destinations, such as outpatients at hospital or the surgery, are still greeted with some enthusiasm.
When we are en route somewhere and we pass an eatery that he knows, he will point at it and turn his head to look directly at it, asking to go in. We were on at errand at the weekend, and drove past the garden centre cafe, where we had taken him during the week before. On both the way out and back again, he gestured that he would like to go inside and was firmly told no, it would be far too busy at a weekend. He did not make a fuss, he had just thought that it was worth a try.
But when we go somewhere new for the first time, as we are doing later today, he has a puzzled look on his face and is looking around all the time for visual clues as to where I might be taking him. This morning we are going to see the Daycare provision that we chose 3 years ago, so he is unlikely to remember it, even though he did come with us to look around twice. I will be discussing the possibility of him finally taking up his place there, so it will be important that he responds positively. He certainly makes it clear, by stamping on the floor and refusing to get out of the car, if he recognises somewhere that he does not want to go. This is why I am confident that , as we will be chauffeuring him there, initially at least, I will be able to tell if he likes it or not. As Joshua could not tell me if he was happy somewhere, I have to rely on his body language to assess his reaction and this was always effective for school and his respite provision. The only place in fact that he did kick off when he arrived was at nursery, when his childminder was on maternity leave when he was pre-school age. I was left in no doubt that he did not like it there at all, but thankfully it was only a temporary arrangement.
There were times when all Joshua would do was sleep in the car, but not now. Now he is too busy to sleep as he has become an active back seat driver and navigator and I welcome the change.