A Splashing Time

When Joshua had come downstairs yesterday, sounding hoarse, I understood why he might have been in an unusually bad mood the day before, he may well have been battling a sore throat. That fitted with his lack of appetite too. So I hesitated that my Sunday morning plan included a swim for our young overnight guest, but Joshua seemed to be content enough after his breakfast.

I had not been to this particular swimming pool for years, not since Joshua was small and it has recently undergone a modernisation, so I was keen to see how it had changed. Firstly it had only cost £6 for all three of us to swim, which seemed to be a bargain – I was free as Joshua’s carer. Joshua and I had plenty of room to get changed in a private family changing room and the lockers were large enough for us to fit all three of our clothes and bags into, as well as Joshua’s large boots and splints.

The foot spray on the way into the pool area was unusually warm and the pool area was light and bright, rather like a small Center Parcs dome. The water was lovely and warm so there was no trouble persuading Joshua to enter the pool, as we often get in our local council pool, which always feels cold at first. Joshua bounced off in the warm water, always within his depth, as the deep end was only 5’3″ ,so he could always touch his feet on the floor of the pool. Joshua was beaming, clearly really happy; he kept on giving me the thumbs up and patting his chest to tell me that he loved it. He waved at the other families and groups of young people who were swimming and was just very happy and relaxed in the water, which was wonderful to see.

Our young companion went on the slide  several times and we watched from the shallow end. While we were there one time, the wave machine came on and Joshua loved having the waves crash over him and being wafted about by the rough water. He laughed as the water splashed him in the face, no fear of getting his face wet or of being knocked backwards by the artificial waves.  We enjoyed  50 minutes of play in the pool and Joshua never made any attempt to leave the pool early, which is good for him. He even tolerated the warm shower afterwards too, which is not his favourite activity, but as he was relaxed and happy, he was content to stand under the spray of water for a while.

I am so glad that we went swimming, I will definitely be using this pool again and Sunday morning seemed like a good time and day to go, as there were people there to wave at, but it was not so busy as he was bumping into anyone and we got access to family changing, both times that we needed it. Joshua used to have swimming lessons at our local pool and so he is confident in  the water, considering that he cannot swim, but the cold local pool always made it a battle, so now I am pleased to have found a convenient alternative. He is timetabled to swim in the hydrotherapy pool 2-3 times a week at school but lately his swimming stuff has been returned to me dry, so I queried it and as he is 2:1 staffing, they have been too short staffed to take him recently. Judging by yesterday’s experience, he has missed it and I am pleased to find a fun activity that he enjoys ,that we can do together. It is Riding for the Disabled again tonight after school; he has not been since before Mum died, so I am hoping that he has missed, and enjoys, that too.

Live Love Laugh

Life is fragile and can be snatched away from us at any time, so we need to make the most of the life that we are given. We need to find time for the things and people that we love and to try hard not to get bogged down in the minutiae. It is important to tell the people that we care for, what and how much they mean to us ,as none of us are going to be around forever. When our loved ones have gone, we do not want to have regrets about the things that we said or indeed, about the important things that we never said to them when we could. I can be over-emotional and rather soppy, but it is just so that the people that I care for, are left in no doubt how I feel about them.

Life is precious and we all know how quickly it flies by, one minute Joshua was born and the next we have celebrated his 18th birthday and he is an adult. So I am going to try to do the things that I want to do now, plan them in, rather than saying I would like to go to Rome one day or that I must get back in touch with that old friend that I have not heard from. That motto goes for Joshua too, I need to enable him to do things that he enjoys, as none of us know how much time we have and how fit and well we will be to enjoy it either. We hear too often of hard working  people who defer all of their travelling and hobbies until they retire, and then they are struck down by ill health once they reach their magical retirement age. I am determined not to be that person, but to grab opportunities whenever they come my way. I have worked hard since I left University in 1990 and so now I am thinking more about playing too.

Joshua is  a well-travelled young man, even though he is a home-bird really, and  we try to enrich his life with trips to the theatre , meals out, family parties and exciting visits to Tesco. Within the confines of his disability, I hope that he enjoys life to the full. I know that he feels loved, and he loves in return, and he likes to laugh, even if it is at other’s expense as he trips them up or kicks them. When Joshua leaves school next summer, it is important that we find alternative daycare that makes him as happy as school does and where he can feel as loved and safe as he currently does. It will not just be about getting him out of the house, he needs to be stimulated and to have the social interaction that he craves, so we will have our work cut out in finding him that placement; but it is critical that we get it right as he deserves the best that we can find.


International Day of Happiness

Lots of things made me happy yesterday and I am grateful for all of them:

  • Joshua woke up happily and he started to come downstairs to greet me, he stood at the top of the stares smiling and waving. There can be no better way to start the day of happiness. But to be honest, he has almost always woken up happily, even when he has to be woken up before he is ready, he hesitates for a moment, then will usually smile and say something cheery like ” I like you!”. He greeted his taxi driver and escort in the same happy way as he headed off to school. It would be so much harder waving good bye each morning if I knew he was miserable at school, but he is always keen to go and to make mischief there.
  • I had a productive day at work and that is always satisfying. I was busy enough, without drowning, and I have got a new challenge to work at for the next week, which is testing my brain too, so that makes me happy.
  • I went home for lunch and the sun was shining and we had a quick walk together. Dogs are fabulous pets as they are always pleased to see you and are always grateful for a walk. So it is no wonder that they say owning a dog is good for our mental health, and we have three so you can imagine how happy they make us. They are an important part of our family and I am so lucky that I can go home at lunchtime to take them for a walk.
  • I left work early as I was driving across to Mum’s house, to be there ready for work locally to her the next day. We had organised that Joshua would go to After School Club until my friend was ready to take him home with her overnight. I was rather anxious about that as he might have got cross not to be going home on time, but she rang me in the car to say that he had behaved beautifully, had enjoyed himself, had been charming and had even thanked them as he was leaving! This news made me laugh out loud in the car. I had regular updates and photographs of his evening and so I was reassured that he was behaving himself on his sleepover.
  • Finally I arrived at Mum’s house – the three and a half hour journey with rush hour queues did not make me happy – and we had a lovely evening. My Aunt and Uncle were staying too and we had  a great time catching up and reminiscing too. Later I had a bath then rang home, then I was the first to go to bed.

So while it was not an exceptional day, I am happy with how it all turned out and thankfully , there is not just one day of happiness a year in my life!

Time flies

Today is the last day of the first half of the spring term, so we have a week’s holiday before the run up to Easter already. As somebody pointed out to me yesterday, that means that we are halfway through the academic year already! How does this time fly away so quickly? We are galloping through time and whatever I do, I am not able to slow time down and halt the approach to Joshua’s fast-approaching adulthood.

So rather than resisting it, I must face time’s inevitable passing, and simply try to make each moment count. I certainly try to inject fun into our lives, with holidays, short breaks, trips to the theatre for instance, but of course there are also the everyday activities  – school, work, supermarket shopping, laundry..- and it can be tougher to make these fun on occasions. But Joshua gets his joy from people and their reaction to him and so even our weekly visit to Tesco can be an adventure for him : he loves to push the trolley with me, and can really get some speed up. He enjoys interacting with other customers and he often likes to snack on a treat as we walk around. He will , on occasions, sit beautifully at the end of the tills while I pack and pay for the shopping – more often than not he finds it hilarious to accost other people’s trolleys or to run off when I have my hands full!

My point is , however, that Joshua sees most activities as an opportunity to interact with someone or to enjoy some food, both of which he loves. We both collected him from school yesterday and my husband wanted to stop at a garden centre on the way home, whereas I was intent on getting back. Initially I suggested that we waited in the car and then we agreed to come too, but under protest. We started to walk towards the plants , when my husband asked ‘would you rather go in the cafe?’ With that, Joshua heard the magic word and instantly put his brakes on and spun around, the decision was made. That detour became a treat where he enjoyed a glass of orange juice and a slab of chocolate cake. and he consumed both with great relish, while waving at the other customers.

Joshua is somehow able to turn the mundane into a fun treat and that is a great skill that he has there, and one that I am going to try harder to achieve too.