Now the end is near…

I swapped my Friday-off yesterday for a Monday, so that I could spend the penultimate day of the holidays with Joshua and so that I could be here to welcome the window installers on the first day of their installation too, so it worked out well. Being off, I also offered to have a friend’s son round to play  as his parents were both due back at work. I managed to make some 9 am phone calls on Mum’s estate before Joshua awoke and anyone arrived, so that was timely and productive.  It was pretty chaotic once the window installers arrived as the dogs barked at them as they moved around the house, Joshua kept standing in their way and the phone kept ringing.

So we took the dogs for a walk on the way to the swimming pool. It was fun walking along the old railway line with two boys and 4 excited dogs. We went to the pool that I had raved about at the start of the summer again, but it was much busier this time as everyone must have had the same idea. That meant that we had to wait for a family changing room both to get undressed and dressed again, and Joshua is not a very patient waiter. But it was worth it once we got into the pool, he grinned as we waded out into the water and splashed around happily. Our young friend had several goes on the slide, while we bobbed about in the water, trying to avoid other swimmers, then he took care of Joshua while I had a go on the slide too. I watched the pair of young men from the slide queue and smiled as I saw them interacting, so much so that Joshua did not miss me at all. We splashed about  when the wave machine came on and then we decided that we were hungry, so we got out of the pool. It is quite hard work dressing both yourself and Joshua after a swim, keeping all of his dry clothes off the wet floor and keeping him from getting cold, but we managed.

We ended up in a fish and chip shop for our late lunch, where I did not expect sleepy Joshua  to eat much but when his scampi arrived, he devoured it all. We were home again just before 3 pm when our companion was being collected by his Dad, and I was delighted to find that we had two new windows installed and the brightness in the snug was instantly noticeable. I made the workers another mug of tea for their efforts and they left an hour later, leaving Joshua and I to catch a siesta. So all in all, it was a good penultimate holiday day and today, Joshua will spend his final day with Yorkshire Grandma, as I return to work today and then the new term begins on Wednesday.

Many SEN parents struggle in the long summer holiday, having their children home 24/7, and social media is full of comments longing for the start of term and  a return to normality. I however, do not feel that way : Joshua has been on great form this summer and has certainly enjoyed his time off and some freedom from the school routine. My only complaint is that I do not feel as though I have seen enough of him, only our family fortnight away and the long august bank holiday weekend, but I am really grateful to Yorkshire Grandma who has held the childcare -fort and taken him out everyday.

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Fond Farewell

We got back home at midnight last night so it was a long day; we were 8.5 hours in the car, door to door which was a trial for all of us. I had my sunrise beach walk with the dogs as I did everyday this holiday, which is the perfect way to start the day. When I got back at 7.30, Joshua and my husband were both awake so we had breakfast. Joshua watched his Show  while we were engaged in packing, laundry and tidying up. We left the bedding on the washing line to dry, while we went for a final  beach walk en famille. It was a glorious day, with clear blue skies – no sign of the thick fog from the day before – and so the beach and prom were crowded with families and dog walkers.

We got onto the sand and it was like a Summer’s day: Joshua threw stones happily into the sea for Ruby, our cocker spaniel , to fetch, which amused them both until he needed to sit on the sea wall to rest. My husband went for a paddle and threw a stick for Max, our elderly but courageous dog, who had a spring swim in the sea. Even our puppy , Kevin, had a sea swim, though he was more reluctant. We had a very happy time on the sand and Joshua did not even complain when the tide came in and caught him, soaking one of his feet and his trouser leg, even though the sea must have been cold. We walked back along the prom and it was even warm enough to sit outside a cafe and enjoy our lunch, taking a last look at the turquoise sea and bright, blue sky.

After that treat, it was back to hoovering and dusting, while my husband loaded the car. Joshua was determined to help out, he followed me around, trying to grab at the vacuum cleaner and when that failed, he found a broom and began sweeping the hall for me. He made hoovering the stairs much harder, by hovering on the step behind me. But eventually we got straight and said our goodbyes to the cottage and headed for the ferry home. There was a delay and Joshua is not a very patient waiter, so he began to kick the car in frustration as we waited in the queue to board. Once on board, he climbed over 60 steps to get to the designated dog-deck, where he was not keen to stand still on the open deck, waving goodbye to our holiday island. He broke free and found a door to the lounge, which was crowded, but a kind couple invited us to sit at their table and tried to engage in conversation with grumpy Joshua. But he sat well for the hour long crossing, watching films on his iPad and eating snacks. We found a lift to get us back to the car deck, which was much easier, as the stairs were very steep.

I fell asleep once back in the car, nicely passing over an hour of the journey, but Joshua did not shut his eyes once and we did not get home until long after his bedtime. We had to stop to re-fuel and Joshua spotted his beloved Donalds, so he kept trying to escape and get there while we were at the adjoining garage. When we did move the car next door, he ran into the fast food restaurant and grinned widely as he waited for his food – it seems he has more patience for waiting when there is Chicken Selects and fries at the end of the wait! He devoured everything and went back in the car more meekly, now that he had a full stomach. Our journey was made 30 minutes longer by the motorway being closed pretty close to home and we were diverted through endless villages, which did not help us to feel that we had been a very long way away.

When we did get home, Joshua was delighted to get out of the car and explore, but I had him tucked up in bed almost straight away and we were not very far behind. Glad that that journey is behind us, we can chill out today and get organised ready for our return to work and school.

Home is where the Heart is

We arrived home from our holiday around 5pm yesterday, so we just missed arriving in the daylight. Joshua was excited from when he recognised the roads 20 minutes away and he kept pointing up ahead, as though he was navigating and directing the driver. By the time we turned up our lane, he was bouncing in his seat, shouting ‘I like you’ excitedly. I was carrrying bags into the house , when he got himself out of the truck – my husband had undone his seat belt – and ran into the house, he could not wait a moment longer. He then went from room to room, checking all was well. It was very cold at home as we have run out of oil while we were away, so luckily we have a log burning stove which soon made the snug cosy and generated enough hot water for a bath. Room inspections over, Joshua grabbed at his apron hanging on the back of the kitchen door, indicating that he was hungry – despite a stop at Donalds en route home! So I set about making an evening meal.

While I love my home, coming back to it after a holiday is always tough as it indicates back to the normal routine for me : back to work, back to school, washing machine on, meals to prepare with less eating out, meetings about Joshua to attend…..That is all suspended while we are away on holiday together – except that I had some work to do and the washing machine ran everyday! But it implies that family fun is over and back to the grindstone, so apparently I was grumpy yesterday while packing up! It is just a period of adjustment, that is all. I know that in the weekend after next, while Joshua is in respite, we have a long weekend at Center Parcs booked, so I do not have to wait long to get back into holiday mode. I also know that Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye, as the end of October half term always indicates that countdown. We are fortunate that our offices close from 21 December through to the new year, so I will soon be on another break, almost having school holidays. So I really have no need to feel sorry for myself and I know that once I have adjusted, I will be fine again, I just did not share Joshua’s innocent delightand unadulterated joy at being home again.

Back to School, back to books……

I see from parents’ Facebook posts, that this long summer holiday has been diffcult for some families to handle and so this will be a week of mixed emotions for them :

There are those whose autistic children have not been able to understand the change and have asked for school for everyday of the holidays. I know that some parents have had to drive to the school, to prove that it was really closed! There are those who have not been able to express their confusion, but have simply responded to the change by displaying challenging behaviour at home and when out in public.

There are those who will struggle to get back into school routine this week, who have got out of the way of an early bed and early rising routine – this used to be us! I could never imagine by September how I ever got Joshua up and dressed by 8am! However this summer, Joshua has maintained his 9pm-7/8am sleep pattern during the holidays, which will suit well, so no adjustment should be needed.

There will be last minute school shoe shopping, which most Mums seem to do but I have never really understood, as it has only been six weeks, so why would their feet expand in that time? Joshua has worn big, clumpy NHS boots over his splints  for years now and so, shoe shopping has not been a necessity for us for a very long time. If I get time, I will polish them though.

I enjoy Joshua’s company, so the main thing for me will be the adjustment to not having him around as much : I will see him for an hour maximum in the morning and that getting ready time is usually pretty full on! Then on work days, Yorkshire Grandma will meet him from school and I will see him for a couple of hours when I get home from work. As that after-work time also has to involve preparing and eating an evening meal – Yorkshire Grandma feeds Joshua almost as soon as he gets in from school – and the bathtime routine, that is also a busy time of day.

Joshua goes back to school on Wednesday this week, so he is having a day out with his Dad, Aunt and two younger cousins today ,to cram some last minute fun in. So he will only have a three day week to adjust in this week. In the old days, he was always extra-sleepy after a holiday, but I am not expecting that drowsiness at school this year. Judging by how lively he has been over the holidays, I think , and hope, he will continue to approach life at 100mph!