Life’s a beach

Making the most of the nice weather, we took a wee trip to the beach yesterday. J took his obligatory small toys to bury in the sand and I packed snacks and the inevitable change of clothes.

We headed to Prestwick and after waking up our sleeping beauties, made our way onto the beach. J proceeded to bury his toys in the sand, dig them up and bury them again. He then saw a little hill made out of sand and stones so he and B set off to climb up and slide down it. This occupied them for a short time before J took advantage of us not being right at his side and made off to the sea. To begin with he just paddled and walked in at the edge, moving slowly along towards the small pier. With his dad following him they disappeared behind the wall for a while before I saw them return, with J being carried as he writhed around like a baby seal, trying to escape. He then set off to the play park, despite being soaking wet. Eventually we were able to herd/wrestle him to the car to change his wet clothes and then took him to the swing park.

As usual he wanted to swing for ages then had a brief play on the slide and climbing frame. He gets so caught up in his fun and what he’s doing that he doesn’t really pay attention to the other children around him. This can be difficult, as he runs in front of them, takes someone else’s turn, spins them round at high speed on the roundabout and runs in front of swings crying to get back on. I try to ignore other people as they look in either amazement or disgust. ‘They don’t understand’ I tell myself. ‘Just ignore it’, ‘Why do you care what they think?’, ‘If only they knew he can’t help it’ and ‘I just want to leave and be anywhere but here!’ are just some of the thoughts that go through my head as we run around after him, trying to keep him safe and minimise what’s left in his wake. Thank you to the man who didn’t have the judgey face but smiled and cut short his son’s turn on the swing so that J could get on. It made a big difference to the whimpering and wailing that would surely have followed.

The National Autistic Society are highlighting ‘judgey faces’ as part of their recent campaign and I think it’s an important thing. We are all guilty of judging people based on small snippets we see or things we hear. It’s hard not to. Next time though, before you judge or make assumptions think about walking a mile in that person’s shoes. Would you want to experience what’s happening to them? How would you react/cope if you did? Would you want their life or their problems? I see plenty of people who cross my path, some indistinct whilst others are very hard to miss or ignore. Lately I’m a bit more philosophical about it. I think about what could have happened to result in what I have seen. I saw a quote recently that has stuck with me; ‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.’ I’m trying to do this now and I hope for my J’s sake others will too. Life is hard for all of us, why would we want to make it harder than it needs to be for anyone else?

We try really hard to make sure our kids get out, have fun, see things and get to play. I’m sure many parents do. We love to see them enjoy themselves and the smiles on their faces as they run around having fun. It’s exhausting though. J isn’t able to control his reactions to things well and when he gets excited he can become over stimulated. The result of this can mean over-excited play, lack of awareness of people or danger and refusal to follow instructions or leave when it’s time. This meant that after the park we had to wrestle him back to the car.

Does everyone have this experience of a day out? At times I feel like I need a day off afterwards to recover, my husband certainly must as he does most of the wrestling and chasing. Today’s result for him was wet trainers, as he had to wade into the sea to retrieve J when he went in too deep! Still, the kids enjoyed it and we are lucky that we are able to take them to these lovely places and that they are able to enjoy them and experience them. A change of clothes, a strained shoulder and some soggy trainers are just the price we pay for the joy they get. Who wouldn’t do that? 😱

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