When the familiar becomes unfamiliar

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As a family we regularly visit our local Heritage museum. It’s a fantastic place in most types of weather. It has lots of outdoor space, a spacious indoor museum area, a playground (with the ever-important swings), a path through the woods, a tram, a canal and most importantly – trains! Our boys love it here. In fact, it’s probably one of J’s favourite places.

Our last visit started off as normal with a happy dash for the gates when we got out of the car. J then started off in the direction of the tram line, which he loves to walk alongside (and across/on). We began our usual circuit of the grounds with J happliy running on ahead of us and looking back with glee to check that we were following on behind. Little did we know of the drama that lay ahead. There was a special event on in the Museum and the place was a lot busier than usual. This meant J having to dodge people on the paths, as well as not being able to just use his usual favourite machines and things. Waiting and sharing are not really J’s bag. He seemed to cope fairly well at this point, with only a few exasperated wails along the way.
People being on his trains and in his way became more frequent as we went further round and then the heavens opened! We weren’t really properly dressed for this latest development and decided to head indoors. This was not a great idea. We hadn’t fully realised before that J had a set way of exploring these surroundings. He did not react well to the unplanned diversion in his route. He angrily marched around the indoor museum, crying out and wailing at regular intervals. It too was busy, which did not help matters. All of his usual exhibits had a person already playing with them and the toy area was filled with other children. If I am honest, I don’t cope well with J crying and wailing, particularly not in full public view. It is very hard to settle him once this cycle begins and for me passers-by only see a badly behaved child who is not getting his way. My ‘flight’ reaction to the stress comes into play and I just want to run away/leave the situation behind.
Thankfully the rain passed and we were finally able to take J back outside and to the playground for his usual extended play on the swings. This eventually helped to settle him and my nerves began to ease. Just who do these people think they are invading our space and using J’s stuff? I suppose, if nothing else, this visit helped us to see how J had beaten a particular path around a familiar setting and we had unwittingly allowed him to do this. We now try to vary the path we take or the things we look at, in the hope that it will help him to cope a little better with unexpected change in future. Fingers crossed!

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