Voting with his Feet

Joshua does not have many means of objecting in his life and he used several of his best strategies last night at Riding for the Disabled. We have not been for months, with hospital and then Mum dying and then more latterly, Joshua has been unwell or too tired to go. So I hoped that after a lie in and a lazy day with Yorkshire Grandma, that he would be able to make it last night. It was the hottest day of the year here yesterday, touching 28 degrees, which is unheard of in these parts. So he was unimpressed changing into his jogging bottoms from his shorts in the first place. Then I came home from work and bustled him out of the door almost immediately.

He enjoyed the 20 minute drive there, with the windows down and loud music blasting out, so he was happy in the car. So he was unimpressed when we drew up at the stables, so he began to kick the car, reluctant to get out. So we sat waiting our turn, until his kicking became too vigorous.But he has become more impatient than he once was and the class before his was still riding, so he tried to kick me instead, then he went back to sit in the car. He was pretty hot and bothered.

When it came to his turn to mount his horse, he was again reluctant to get out of the car but was bundled onto the waiting horse. We explained that in the time since he had ridden last, he had become more likely to kick out and that he would not like standing still. As the riders began to move around the yard, every time Joshua passed the mounting block, he tried to stand up in his stirrups, he was clearly trying to get off. But on the rest of the ride, he was smiling and waving and looked as though he was having fun. Joshua sits really straight in horseback, much straighter than in a chair, so it is really good for his posture I am sure.

Riding has now finished for the summer and will re-start up again in September, so we need to decide whether or not to continue after so many years riding : he made it pretty clear last night that he did not want to ride, even though he seemed to enjoy it once he was on horseback. There is a waiting list of children who would perhaps get more out of their half hour of riding than Joshua seems to be doing, but it is the only extra curricular activity that he does outside of school and I feel as though it is good for him.

We have some thinking time, but he definitely voted with his feet last night.

Stepping Out

I think that I have written before that Joshua uses his feet to communicate a lot and unfortunately has developed a habit of kicking, with his big NHS boots and splints on. He will kick at doors when he is impatient and ready to go out as an expression of ‘come on, lets go’ or sometimes it is to attract attention. Joshua also kicks out at ankles as a protest, not too hard but he is pretty accurate. Yesterday we went out for the day and our first stop was a supermarket to get some provisions. Joshua pushed the trolley with me as he likes to do and occasionally he would let go, when I was distracted by reaching something off a shelf, and he would make a run for it, giggling. I would chase him and bring him back to the trolley. He enjoys this game, making Mum run.

He began to kick the wheels of the trolley as he was pushing it and I told him that he was only hurting his own toes, nothing else. So he escalated, and he took a swipe at my ankles instead, while still pushing the trolley. I objected and passed him onto his Dad who walked arm in arm with him. As we reached the end of an aisle, he kicked out at an elderly lady walking passed. I do not know if he actually made contact, as she did not react, but the intention was certainly there and we both saw it. That is the first time that I have known him to try to injure a stranger in a public place. My husband took him straight to the car – which might well have been what he wanted of course, although he usually enjoys a brief supermarket shop. I continued without them and when I got back to the car, Joshua was certainly subdued, as though he had been told off and understood that he had misbehaved. I gave him only my very disappointed face and we drove to our next destination, with him continually turning around and grinning at me, trying to win his way back into my good books.

I really hope that this kick was just a¬† one -off, or else we will struggle to take him out to public places as his reactions are so quick and unpredictable. I still do not think that it was malicious, it was part of his attention-seeking game, but the end result was the same and I may be giving the benefit of too much doubt. But did he get the message yesterday that such behaviour would not be tolerated? Or did he learn that if you don’t want to do something, then just kick an old lady and you’ll get taken away?

Only time will tell how he interprets our response but he behaved beautifully for the rest of the day, walking  a long way, pushing his own wheelchair with no hint of kicking out. He made us laugh as he was rushing along the prom, clearly thinking that there was a cafe reward at the end, so he was disappointed when we turned around to walk back the way we had come. He made it very clear what he had in mind as every establishment that looked like a cafe, whether it was closed or not, he tried to get in their door. He was a man on a mission and he was so relieved when we finally reached our destination, where he was happy to sit and to warm up his cold hands, while waiting patiently for his lunch.